Family Cormorants (Phalacrocoracidae)

Least Concern

European Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)


French: Cormoran huppé German: Krähenscharbe Spanish: Cormorán moñudo

Pelecanus aristotelis


, 1761,



Sometimes placed in genus Stictocarbo or occasionally in Leucocarbo. Race riggenbachi may be inseparable from desmarestii; further investigation required. Three subspecies tentatively recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. a. aristotelis (Linnaeus, 1761) – Iceland and N Scandinavia S on coasts to Iberian Peninsula.
  • P. a. desmarestii (Payraudeau, 1826) – C Mediterranean E to Black Sea.
  • P. a. riggenbachi E. J. O. Hartert, 1923 – coast of Morocco.
  • Descriptive notes

    65–80 cm; c. 2000 g; wingspan 90–105 cm. Breeding adult of nominate race is glossy blackish overall, head and neck having brightest green to green-blue gloss,... read more


    Usually silent away from breeding colonies. Inflying males may start calling 100–200m from nest.... read more


    Marine; rarely in estuaries and only exceptionally inland. Has strong preference for rocky coasts... read more

    Food and feeding

    Almost exclusively fish, taken chiefly near sea bed or at intermediate depths, and principally of the families Ammodytidae (sandeels),... read more


    Forms sparse colonies. Nests in crevices or caves, on ledges or among boulders, often a few metres above sea-level. Nests are piles of... read more


    Most populations sedentary, often with some, mainly limited, post-breeding dispersal, principally... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Global population estimated at c. 100,000 pairs in 1990s. Some 40–45% of these were in Britain and Ireland, where numbers... read more

    Recommended citation

    Orta, J., Garcia, E.F.J., Jutglar, F., Kirwan, G.M. & Boesman, P. (2018). European Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 21 October 2018).