New reports on ruru nesting and Island conservation

Date posted: 02-Oct-2017

Two new reports have been added to the website. The first gives details of a summer students..

2018 calendars now available

Date posted: 27-Sep-2017

Our latest calendar, beautifully illustrated with images taken on the Island, is now available fo..

Guided walks for photographers

Date posted: 21-Jun-2017

For a wonderful day of wildlife photography please join us on Tiritiri Matangi Island for a Ph..

Ferry discounts for Supporters

Date posted: 18-May-2017

Tiritiri Matangi Island, the perfect winter's day trip. The birds are at their best, warm up w..

More kiwi for the Island

Date posted: 04-Apr-2017

In 1993 and 1995, sixteen little spotted kiwi were released on Tiritiri Matangi Island. The ma..

2017 Photo Competition

Date posted: 22-Mar-2017

It is that time of year again when we are looking for entries for our photo competition (and phot..

The 2017 concert

Date posted: 05-Feb-2017

This year's concert promises to be another wonderful and unique experience. Click here (/concert-..

Shorebird Film Festival at Devonport

Date posted: 26-Oct-2016

Click here (/miscellaneous documents/DevWaderFilms.jpg) for details of a forthcoming film festival c..

Extra Dawn Chorus Trip

Date posted: 20-Oct-2016

Stop Press: Extra Dawn Chorus trip now scheduled for Thursday 27th October 2016. ..

2016 AGM

Date posted: 06-Sep-2016

The 2016 AGM was held at the Kohia Centre at 7:30 pm on Monday 19th September. Click here (/..

Black Shag

Scientific name:

 Phalacrocorax carbo 

Maori name:




Conservation status

Naturally uncommon

Mainland status:

Sparsely widespread 


88 cm, 2.2 kg


Up to 20 years (record from Europe) 


Timing variable according to area   


Fish, crayfish, large invertebrates, molluscs 

Total population:

Estimated at 5,000-10,000 individuals (2012) 

The black shag is widely distributed throughout the world. The sub-species that breeds in New Zealand (novaehollandiae) is also found throughout Australia and New Guinea. 

It is our largest shag, and is sparsely distributed throughout the country. Black shags feed on small-medium fish in both fresh and marine water; they also eat crustaceans and molluscs. Because of their preference for fish, they have in the past been persecuted by fishermen, though this happens less often nowadays.

They breed in colonies, usually in trees overhanging or close to water, inland or at the coast. They build a large nest of twigs and lay 2-5 eggs, usually three, in autumn or winter, though timing is highly variable; they have been found nesting at all times of the year. Incubation lasts 27-31 days and chicks fledge at around seven weeks old. Most start to breed when they are three years old.

Black shags can turn up anywhere around the coast or on inland waters and are seen occasionally in the vicinity of Tiritiri Matangi, though they do not breed on the Island.

Find out more about the black shag at New Zealand Birds Online.

Photograph by Simon Fordham ©

Reference: Heather, B and Robertson, H. The Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand, Viking 2005.