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European Shag
European Shag
European Shag sites cared for by the Trust
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Fair Isle

Fair Isle

Large colonies of European Shags can be found on Fair Isle.

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Although a common sight around Scotland, estimating the breeding population is difficult because of their habit of nesting under boulders and in dark, inaccessible caves.

One of the largest colonies in the UK was on Canna, though it declined in the 1990s due to predation by rats. Other large NTS colonies are to be found at Fair Isle, St Abbs and Mingulay.


Mainly fish, sometimes swallowing prey before reaching the surface. Mainly surface diver but can also plunge dive, staying under for up to 3-4 minutes.

Nest site

Prefers more sheltered and shady overhung sites to that of cormorant on ledges, fissures, caves and under boulders. Nest material heap of vegetation such as bracken, seaweed, using grasses for finer lining.


Mid March to mid June where 1-6 eggs are laid.


Scottish population move north to Norway and other UK populations move Irish Sea, Bristol Channel, and south to Brittany.


UK, southern Ireland, Norway, Russia, Iceland, Faeroes, Spain and southern Europe.

Other Cormorant family birds at Trust sites