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25 He aha tērā? Pied Shag

Four large black and white birds standing in shallow sea water.
Miraz Jordan

This large black and white bird is seen on the river, on the beach and flying overhead. It’s often observed with wings outstretched, sunning itself. There’s a whole colony of them in the trees just upstream from the footbridge. He aha tērā? What is that?

Two large black and white birds on the shore, one with wings spread.

Photo by Miraz Jordan. Used with permission.

Answer: it’s a kawau, pied shag:

Identification: Length: 65 - 85 cm; Weight: 1.3 - 2.1 kg

Similar species: Little shag, New Zealand king shag, Stewart Island shag, Black shag

A large, relatively slim black-and-white shag with white face, black feet, blue eye-rings and yellow facial skin. Black back, nape and upperwings contrast with white throat, breast and belly.

Did you know: Cormorants dive underwater to catch food. They have feathers that become easily waterlogged, which allows them to dive deeper by preventing air bubbles from getting trapped underneath their feathers. This is one reason you often see cormorants standing with their wings spread, drying their wet wings after diving.

This item was updated on Wednesday 23 March 2022

I live at Waikawa Beach and love all the wildlife, fauna and flora.