Phalacrocorax aristotelis - European Shag

Phylum: Chordata - Class: Aves - Order: Pelecaniformes - Family: Phalacrocoracidae

Closeup of head of a European Shag

Usually referred to in Britain and Ireland simply as the Shag, this member of the cormorant family is very much a coastal species and rarely strays far inland. Shags are large, long-necked blackish birds that swim low in the water and are very effective at diving and catching fish, on which they feed. The yellow throat patch and thin bill are features that help differentiate the Shag from the somewhat larger and stockier Great Cormorant. In the breeding season Shags also have a small crest.

European Shag

You will see European Shags in the British Isles all the year round. They nest on coastal cliffs and on offshore islands.


This page includes pictures kindly contributed by David Kelly.

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