BIRDS OF ICELAND : Shag, Phalacrocorax aristotelis

Phalacrocorax aristotelisshags are a bit smaller than cormorants (=Ph. carbo); 75 cm.(Shag) vs. 90 cm.(Cormorant). Both can be found breeding along the coast. The cormorant can occasionally be found inland (like in Europe where it is common along fish-rich rivers and lakes) but the shag is strictly a marine bird. Apart from a yellowish spot behind the beaks shags are all black birds. They also have a feathered-crest on top of their heads. However, outside mating rituals this is rarely seen as they retract these feathers. Cormorants have more glossy reddish-brown/black backs and yellow lower face (under their eyes). Depending on maturity and season cormorants also have grey and white necks. Shags typically breed on (steep) sea cliffs. Cormorant on Iceland breed on top of small islands where they build their nests. In the rest of Europe though cormorants build nests in trees (and kill the trees by their faeces droppings). Both shag and cormorant breed in the Breiðfjörður region of Iceland. During the winter they can be found all along the coast.

A brief introduction to Iceland birds
Text & Photographs by Dick Vuijk
- unless stated otherwise
Other petrel-related species and seabirds

Other petrel-related species and seabirds

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Natural History of Iceland Site  in Dutch

Natural History of Iceland Site  Dutch