LITTLE PIED SHAG _____________________________________________________________________
At Opua Marina we have a lovely resident 'Little pied cormorant, little shag or kawaupaka (Microcarbo melanoleucos)'.
It seems to keep to itself and not join in with the other shags hanging around the marina - there are a lot of them on the outer pontoons, however this little one sticks right up close to the shore. Whenever I see it, it's fishing or preening. I love it's cute little punky topknot, don't you?
ABOUT: The species is known as the little pied cormorant in Australia, and as the little shag or by the Māori name of kawaupaka in New Zealand. The term white-throated shag is also reserved for the melanistic form there.
The little pied cormorant was originally described by French naturalist Louis Jean Pierre Vieillot in 1817. Its specific epithet is derived from the Ancient Greek words melano- "black", and leukos "white".
The little pied cormorant is a benthic feeder, i.e. it finds its prey on the sea floor. It is a solitary feeder, normally diving in relatively shallow water, often near the shore. Dive times are short, around 15 to 20 seconds, with recovery times on the surface of 5 to 10 seconds unless prey are being swallowed. It takes a variety of fish prey but an unusually high proportion (nearly 30% by weight on average, and up to 80% in some individuals) of crustaceans. In New Zealand waters it is most often seen preying on the local flounder and other small flatfish. Eels and insect larvae are also consumed. These are brought to the surface to be swallowed: the bird will sometimes put a fish down on the surface of the water in order to re-orient it and swallow it head first.