Identifying Cormorant and Shag

A black, reptilian-looking bird swims by low to the water - but is it a Cormorant or a Shag? Cormorants are more familiar and wide-spread, although Shags are more numerous. Let us help you to separate these two similar-looking species of water bird.

If you value the video guides that BTO produces, consider donating to help us continue our work.

Browse videos by species

Recent Bird ID videos

Herring Gull. Photograph by Edmund Fellowes
Build up your gull ID skills by learning to recognise two ideal reference species: Common Gull and Herring Gull.
Corn Bunting. Photograph by John Harding
Yellowhammer, Cirl and Corn Bunting all breed in farmland in the UK, and can all present identification challenges.
Reed Bunting. Photograph by Liz Cutting
Brown, streaky buntings can be an ID headache! This video tackles four species that can be found in coastal areas in winter: Reed, Little, Snow and Lapland Buntings.