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Auckland Shag - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by MariettaBirder
Enderby Island, New Zealand, 8 January 2007

Alternative name: Auckland Islands Shag

Leucocarbo colensoi

Phalacrocorax colensoi


Length: 63 cm (24¾ in)

  • Black upperparts with a metallic blue sheen
  • White underparts and throat
  • Pink legs and feet,
  • White wing bar
  • Some males have a white patch on the back
  • Short black crest


  • Similar to adult but black areas brownish.
Photo © by MariettaBirder
Enderby Island, New Zealand, 8 January 2007

Similar Species

These are the only shags on the Auckland Islands. Very similar to the Campbell Island Shag, the Auckland Island Shag has a variable neck pattern with the black sometimes meeting across the foreneck, sometimes mottled and sometimes completely separated by white.


Restricted to the Auckland Islands and surrounding waters, New Zealand, with colonies present on Auckland, Enderby, Rose, Ewing and Adams Islands.


This is a monotypic species[1]. This taxon is considered a subspecies of New Zealand King Shag (sensu lato) and is lumped with the Campbell Island Shagand Bounty Islands Shag by by some authors[6]
Sometimes placed in genus Phalacrocorax.


Open sea and sheltered coastal waters. Breeds and roosts on rocky cliffs.


Photo © by MariettaBirder
Enderby Island, New Zealand, 8 January 2007


They nests in colonies on ledges, the tops of sea cliffs, in hollows, and also sometimes on flat ground among grass tussock or in the shelter of overhanging rocks, bushes or trees. Females usually lay a clutch of three eggs between November and February, followed by an incubation period of around 28 to 32 days. However, a brood of only two chicks is normally successfully raised.


The diet includes small fish and marine invertebrates.


Male advertises with rough barking borr or orr-orrgh and threatens with erh-erh-erh. Also male makes ticking sounds, while the female gives a soft purr.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Marchant, S. & Higgins, P.J. (coordinating editors) 1990. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand & Antarctic Birds. Volume 1, Ratites to ducks. Melbourne, Oxford University Press.
  3. Orta, J., Christie, D.A., Jutglar, F. & Kirwan, G.M. (2017). Auckland Shag (Phalacrocorax colensoi). 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 http://www.hbw.com/node/52646 on 27 February 2017).
  4. Shirihai, H. (2007) A Complete Guide to Antarctic Wildlife. The Birds and Marine Mammals of the Antarctic Continent and the Southern Ocean. 2nd edition. A&C Black, London.
  5. Szabo, M.J. 2013 [updated 2015]. Auckland Islands shag. In Miskelly, C.M. (ed.) New Zealand Birds Online. http;//www.nzbirdsonline.org.nz
  6. Avibase
  7. ArKive
  8. BirdForum Member observations

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