Re: cormorants or shags?

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Posted by Duncan on December 06, 2002 at 12:44:40 from user Duncan.

In Reply to: Re: cormorants or shags? posted by John Lambert on December 05, 2002 at 17:17:12:

Can I just check, all joking and censoriousness aside, that we're clear that the birds that AR describes on Cormorant Island are CORMORANTS: Phalacrocorax carbo, not SHAGS: phalacrocorax aristotelis.

Just to confirm, Cormorants generally nest in a pile of twigs, seaweed or flotsam but also sometimes in trees or reed-beds, shags only nest on sheltered rocky ledges.

I quote:

'Unlike its cousin, the cormorant, the shag is an entirely maritime bird, favouring deeper waters and rockier coasts than its relative.'

Cormorants and Great Northern Diver-plus sized whereas shags are red-throated-to-black-throated size.

On the water it's very easy to mistake comorants and shags for diverse divers. If you're close enough the bill gives a lot away, but from a distance the main distinguishing method is, cormorants and shags have a long tail (divers hardly have a tail although what they do have is sometimes held upright when bothered - I saw a couple red-throated divers behaving that way when confused by a poorly dolphin on the coast of Ireland once!) and GENERALLY (but not quite always) divers submerge very smoothly with hardly a splash while shags and cormorants leap quite out of the water in order to submerge.

But it is much easier to mix them up than you'd think!!


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