Phalacrocorax aristotelis


Shags are large, dark waterbirds, a little bit smaller than Cormorants. They feed on fish, which they catch with their long, hook-tipped bills while swimming underwater. Shags nest on cliffs around our coasts but are very rarely seen inland. They can often be spotted perched with their wings held stretched out to dry their feathers off which are not waterproof.

How to identify

Smaller than a Cormorant, a Shag has dark green, shiny plumage, a crest and a narrower bill with a yellow gape.

Where to find it

Found on rocky shores all around our coasts.


When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

The survival of our seabirds is threatened by the pollution and degradation of our marine and coastal habitats. The Wildlife Trusts are working with fishermen, researchers, politicians and local people towards a vision of 'Living Seas', where marine wildlife thrives. This work has recently had a massive boost with the passing of the Marine Bill, promising sustainable development of the UK's marine environment. Do your bit for our Living Seas by supporting your local Wildlife Trust.

Species information

Common name
Latin name
Phalacrocorax aristotelis
Gulls and seabirds
Length: 72-80cm Wingspan: up to 1m Weight: 1.9kg
Conservation status
Classified in the UK as an Amber List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review.