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Shags are goose-sized dark long-necked birds similar to cormorants but smaller and generally slimmer with a characteristic steep forehead. In the breeding season adults develop a dark glossy green plumage and prominent recurved crest on the front of their head.
In the UK they breed on coastal sites, mainly in the north and west, and over half their population is found at fewer than 10 sites, making them an Amber List species. Shags usually stay within 100-200km of their breeding grounds. During the breeding season at their large Scottish colonies on Orkney, Shetland, the Inner Hebrides and the Firth of Forth. Elsewhere they can be seen commonly around the coasts of Wales and South West England (especially Devon and Cornwall).