Also known as Kerguelen Cormorant

Latin name: Phalacrocorax verrucosus

Population: The Kerguelen Shag has a large global population estimated to be 340,000-1,400,000 individuals.

Cites classified: not listed

Where found: The Kerguelen Shag is restricted to Iles Kerguelen.

Wingspan: 110 cm

Length: 65 cm

Weight: 1.5-2.2 kg

Mating/Breeding: The Kerguelen Shag species breeds in colonies, usually of 3 to 30 pairs but occasionally up to 400. Colonies may be near those of Rockhopper Penguins. There is a period of nest-building and displaying in late March and early April, an unusual time for a sub-Antarctic shag. Advertising males display by throwing the head back till the nape touches the tail. The Kerguelen Shag’s nests are cones of seaweed, twigs, and grass held together with mud and guano, up to 1 meter tall and 33 cm across, with a cup averaging 20 cm across and 8 cm deep. Nests that survive may be reused, perhaps not by the same pair. Breeding activity starts as early as September, but laying usually starts at some point from late October to late November and lasts till mid January; the times vary considerably among colonies. The clutch comprises 2 to 4 eggs. The second egg is laid 2 or 3 days after the first. Both Kerguelen Shag parents incubate for an average of 29 days.

Eggs: 2-4 pale green-blue eggs, about 6.2 cm long and 3.9 cm wide.

Hunting Habits: The Kerguelen Shag catches its food by pursuit-diving.

Feed on: Fish and sea-urchins.

Threats: Not reported to be affected by humans or introduced mammals.

Colour/Looks: The Kerguelen Shag’s adult’s upperparts, tail, and thighs are metallic greenish black; the underbody to the throat is white; and the wing linings are brown. Some individuals have white patches on the back and wings. The head and the back of the neck are deep blue or purple, except that a black cap reaches below the eye to the chin and ear coverts. The face and throat pouch are dark brown, ornamented with yellow-orange tubercles. The bill is horn-coloured or brown; the eyes are hazel. The legs and feet vary from dark brown to dark-blotched bright pink. Breeding adults have a little black erectile crest on the forehead, yellow or orange caruncles (large warts) above the base of the bill, and a bright blue ring around the eye. After the breeding season, the plumage fades, the eye-ring becomes lead-blue, and the caruncles become smaller and duller-coloured. Juveniles are dark brown with varying amounts of white underneath and brown iris, bill, and feet. They have no caruncles, and their eye-rings are lead-blue. The Kerguelen Shag’s acquire adult plumage gradually.

Interesting Trivia:

  • The Kerguelen Shag regularly dive deeper than 100 m.

More info:

  • Hadoram Shirihai, A complete guide to Antarctic wildlife (2002)
  • David McGonigal & Lynn Woodworth, Antarctica and the Arctic. The complete encyclopedia (2001)
  • Tony Soper, Antarctica. A guide to the wildlife (2000)