Gulosus aristotelis (European shag)

What do they look like?

Large, long-necked birds, shags are around the same size as a goose. Although easily confused with cormorants, their smaller size, delicate beak, and slimmer build sets them apart. In breeding season, they develop a characteristic tuft on the back of their head and a metallic, bottle-green sheen on their dark feathers.

When can I see them in Scotland?

All year

Where can I see them in Scotland?

Shags can be seen around the majority of the Scottish coast, and places like Orkney, Shetland, the Inner Hebrides and the Firth of Forth boast large breeding colonies.

Conservation Status:

In the UK, bird species with breeding, passage or wintering populations are assessed by experts and assigned to the Red, Amber or Green lists of conservation concern. Shags are currently a ‘Red’ listed species.

98 cm
30 - 31 days
48 - 58 days
12 years
Average Lifespan

Close-up of a shag on the nest
© Susan Davies