shag



shag defined in 1930 year

shag - Shag;
shag - Bill black; base of the under mandible yellow, the black skin about the gape thickly studded with small yellow spots; iris emerald-green; crown, neck, upper and under parts dark green with purple and bronze reflections; wing and tail-feathers, legs and feet, black; a crest, curling forwards, grows on the forehead in early spring, and is lost by the end of May. Length, twenty-seven inches.

The shag may be easily mistaken for the cormorant, which it closely resembles, but when near at hand is seen to differ in its smaller size and its prevailing green colour, which appears black at a distance; and, in the breeding season, by the absence of the white patch on the flank. In its habits it is more strictly marine than the cormorant, but resembles that bird in its manner of swimming and flight. It prefers bays and inlets to the open sea, and deep water near rocks to the shallow sea, where there is a low beach. In diving after fish it springs upwards almost out of the water, and goes down head first. Beneath the water it propels itself wholly by its feet; the auks, and some other diving birds, use their wings as fins to assist progression. After capturing a fish the shag brings it to the surface to swallow it, then swims on for a space, and dives again, and so on, and finally returns to the rock, where it proceeds to disgorge its prey, to devour it at leisure. The shag breeds on sea- cliffs, sometimes building on the ledges or in crevices, but caves, where they exist, are preferred. The eggs are three in number, in shape and colour like those of the cormorant, and the nests, which are placed close together, are also like those of that bird.

The shag is found in certain localities all round the coasts of Great Britain and Ireland, but is less numerous and more local than the cormorant.

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