Hihi volunteer needed

Date posted: 18-Oct-2018

Would you like to volunteer with the Island's hihi team and learn from them how ..

2019 Calendars now available

Date posted: 05-Sep-2018

The new 2019 calendars are now available and this year's is better than ever! Th..

Winners of kokako photo competition

Date posted: 02-Sep-2018

The stunning winning photographs from those submitted to the competition as part..

Kokako Celebration

Date posted: 21-Jul-2018


Kokako Photographic Competition

Date posted: 20-Jul-2018

KĊŒKAKO PHOTOGRAPHIC COMPETITION Celebrating 21 years on Tiritiri Matangi To ce..

New monitoring reports published

Date posted: 19-Jul-2018

Reports on monitoring studies carried out over the past year have now been poste..

2018 Concert coming up soon

Date posted: 15-Feb-2018

Our 2018 concert will feature an afternoon of light classics and jazz courtesy of the Auckland Ph..

Wetapunga talk coming soon

Date posted: 05-Feb-2018

For the Social on 19 March the speaker will be Ben Goodwin of Auckland Zoo, who will talk about t..

Rat caught and now takahe released from pens

Date posted: 28-Jan-2018

Thankfully DOC staff Andre de Graaf and Polly Hall and their assistants have trapped the rat whic..

Your Christmas Shopping for a Song

Date posted: 04-Dec-2017

Aka - The Grand Christmas Shopping Expedition to Tiritiri Matangi Island Shop Dreading..

Spotted Shag

Scientific name:

 Stictobarbo punctatus punctatus

Maori Name:




Conservation status:

 Endemic, not threatened

Mainland status:

 Widespread and common but patchy distribution in  the N.I.


 70cm, 1200g 


 10+ years


 All year


 Small fish and marine invertebrates

This slender grey shag has small black spots on the back and wings and a black rump, tail and thighs. The brown bill is long and slender and the feet are yellow. During the breeding season the bird sports a broad white stripe from above the eye, down the sides of the neck and sparse white streaks (filo plumes) on the neck and thighs. A conspicuous double head crest is curled forward and the facial skin is green. The non–breeding adult lacks crests and has an obscure white stripe on the neck, yellow facial skin and paler underparts. 

Silent away from their colonies, displaying males make noisy grunts and guttural sounds, but females remain silent.

Small fish (ahuru, red cod, gudgeon, bullies, sprat, squid) and marine invertebrates make up their diet.

The Spotted Shag nests in colonies of 10–700 pairs on coastal cliff edges or rocky islets. The breeding season is variable from year to year and in different parts of New Zealand. The main breeding areas are around the coasts of the South Island. In the Hauraki Gulf peaks of laying are in March, August and December. The nest is a platform about 0.6m across made of seaweed, grass and iceplants. The clutch of 1–4 pale blue eggs is incubated for 28–35 days. The chicks fledge at 57–71 days.

Although they nest in the Hauraki Gulf in small numbers, spotted shags are not often seen around Tiritiri Matangi.

Learn more about the spotted shag at New Zealand Birds Online.

Photography by:  Dr Kerry Rodgers ©

References: Heather, B.D.; Robertson, H.A. 2000 The Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand. Auckland, Viking.
Moon, G The Reed Field Guide to New Zealand Birds.