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Conservation status: Red

Shags are goose-sized dark long-necked birds similar to cormorants but smaller and generally slimmer with a characteristic steep forehead. In the breeding season adults develop a dark glossy green plumage and prominent recurved crest on the front of their head. In the UK they breed on coastal sites, mainly in the north and west, and over half their population is found at fewer than 10 sites, making them an Red List species. Shags usually stay within 100-200km of their breeding grounds.



Latin name

Phalacrocorax aristotelis


Cormorants and shags (Phalacrocoracidae)

Where to see them

During the breeding season at their large Scottish colonies on Orkney, Shetland, the Inner Hebrides and the Firth of Forth. Elsewhere they can be seen commonly around the coasts of Wales and South West England (especially Devon and Cornwall).

When to see them

All year round

What they eat

Fish and occasionally crustacea and molluscs.


EuropeUK breeding*UK wintering*UK passage*
-27,000 pairs110,000 birds-



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