Irish Name: Seaga
Scientific name: Phalacrocorax aristotelis
Bird Family: Cormorants
Conservation status


Resident along all Irish coasts.


Medium sized, mainly all dark seabird. Long body and neck, long narrow hooked bill. Dark webbed feet. Rather short rounded wings. Swims low in the water with bill raised. Very rarely inland unlike the similar looking Cormorant. Adult breeding bird is black with a green and purple gloss to its plumage, yellow gape and a crest on its fore crown. While the Cormorant lacks a crest, instead having a sloping forehead and crown peaked at rear, the Shag has peaked fore crown at all seasons and in all plumages. The adult birds lack the crest outside of the breeding season. Juvenile and first year birds are brownish with darker upperpart.


Grunting calls at colony


A wide range of small fish taken from just below the surface.


Breeds all around the coast of Ireland where ever suitable cliffs exist. Nests on ledges, in crevases, in caves or under boulders. A colonial nester in loose colonies with prolonged breeding season. More plentiful on the west and south coasts but with notable concentrations in Co. Dublin.


Whilst young birds will disperse widely, most adults will winter in the vicinity of their breeding colonies.

Monitored by

Breeding seabirds are monitored through surveys carried out every 15-20 years, the last was Seabird 2000, which was undertaken between 1998 & 2002.

Similar Species


Irish Name:
Scientific name:
Phalacrocorax carbo
Bird Family: