New Zealand king shag

The New Zealand king shag (Leucocarbo carunculatus), also known as the rough-faced shag, king shag or kawau, is a rare bird endemic to New Zealand. Some taxonomic authorities, including the International Ornithologists' Union, place this species in the genus Leucocarbo. Others place it in the genus Phalacrocorax.

New Zealand king shag
New Zealand king shags
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Suliformes
Family: Phalacrocoracidae
Genus: Leucocarbo
L. carunculatus
Binomial name
Leucocarbo carunculatus
Gmelin, 1789

Phalacrocorax carunculatus


Male New Zealand king shag from the collection of Auckland Museum

It is a large (76 cm long, 2.5 kg in weight) black and white cormorant with pink feet. White patches on the wings appear as bars when the wings are folded. Yellow-orange swellings (caruncles) are found above the base of the bill. The grey gular pouch is reddish in the breeding season. A blue eye-ring indicates its kinship with the other blue-eyed shags.[2]


New Zealand king shags can be seen from the Cook Strait ferries in Queen Charlotte Sound opposite the beginning of the Tory Channel. They live in the coastal waters of the Marlborough Sounds where they are known to breed only on rocky islets at four small sites.[3]


  1. BirdLife International (2012). "Phalacrocorax carunculatus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2012. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  2. Schuckard, R. (2017). "New Zealand king shag". Retrieved 2019-05-17.
  3. "Species factsheet: Leucocarbo carunculatus". BirdLife International. Retrieved 18 May 2019.