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Common name European shag
Scientific name Phalacrocorax aristotelis
Type Seabirds
Status Dispersive

Large seabird (approx 80 cm or 31.5 in), very physically similar to the Great Cormorant, although a little smaller and more stylized. Black plumage in general except for the corner of the bill, that stands out for its yellow colour. This feature in the bill and the presence of a small crest of feathers in the shape of a topknot on the forehead, presented by males and used for courtship, are the keys to identify it. The head and bill are smaller than in the Great Cormorant.


Marine environment

Where it lives

Marine areas with rocks and cliffs not far from the coast.

How it lives

Species resident in the Iberian Peninsula, present mainly in the Cantabrian coast and in Almeria and Gibraltar. In Malaga the European Shag is a vagrant bird, present above all as wintering on the coasts during its dispersive processes. It makes one annual laying of 1 to 6 eggs. Nest in rocky ledges and in colonies. This seabird feeds mainly on fish, although it also consumes crustaceans.

Where it can be seen in Malaga

Uncommon and irregular species. It has been observed in Punta de Calaburras (Mijas), mouth of the Guadalhorce and the Port of Malaga.

Curious facts

Those known as sea crows are used in Chinese and Japanese culture in a similar way to how birds of prey are used here to hunt. They are trained for fishing and are put a ring around their necks that prevents them from swallowing the fish but not from filling the crop. By means of a leash the fisherman recovers the cormorant and thus benefits from the bird's fishing capacity.

Similar birds
Wintering Summer Resident Migration