Cormorant (or Shag)

The name cormorant comes from old French and translates as ‘sea raven.’ These plain black or black and white land birds are very fond of fish. Only one species (the Black-Faced Cormorant) of the five found here is regarded as a seabird.

Lacking the natural waterproofing, and hence buoyancy, that their aquatic feathered friends have, Cormorants sink easily to the bottom where they feed. Before they can fly again, these birds have to dry out afterwards, and are often seen perched on a rock or the shore, wings outstretched as if displaying the size of the ‘one that got away’.

In several Dreamings, Cormorants (and sometimes Crow, Whale and other creatures) are linked with the release of fire. It is due to inadvertently getting burnt and singed that these birds now have their black colouring. There are many black and white birds in Australia, and in many Dreamings this is attributed to damage in fire.

In one Dreaming, the Cormorants and Bats are created at the same time.[1]

The iridescent magical nature of the Cormorant’s black feathers reflects this land bird’s ability to enter another dimension; to be part of it yet separate. The Dreaming cause of the black feathers, fire, brings this element into the air (flight), land and water aspects of this bird. In fact, Cormorant is a symbol of exploring the four levels or realms of existence, possessing the quality of adaptability.  If you encounter a Cormorant, let the opportunity remind you of your Cormorant qualities and the need for their expression. It is time to take the plunge, or dry out on land, or go for a flight – or play with fire? There are many choices and it is time to do something differently.

Cormorant is comfortable in three elements – air, water and land. This can point to a deeper understanding of the different dimensions of reality and a heightened development of spirituality in a way which is grounded and ‘down to earth’, or practical and adaptable. Cormorants are messengers – so be open to a really amazing insight or dream lesson!

[1]               Reed, A.W.  “Aboriginal Myths, Legends & Fables.”



Comments 4


    I found two cormorant feathers on my way back home, after been looking for the cormorant I saw few days ago. I said out loud “Ok I didn’t see you today ” as I approached the exit of the park I always waked around in. They were 2 feathers from the same side, so I know they were not a pair.

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  2. keith mchugh

    it was unfortunate that ran into a dead one on the shore while walking my dogs, so I stopped and dug it a nice grave and prayed for it I just wondered if it has different meaning than whats been already stated. it couldn’t have been long as it was still limber. I pray I did it justice.

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      Hi Keith,

      Sorry for the late reply – I need to sort out my settings and notifications. I think with a connection with a dead ‘symbol’ it means looking into where that part of your life the ‘symbol’ (cormorant meanings) have been lost or dramatically changed in your life. I also think, anything is done with justice if it is from the heart and with respect. Intention counts for a lot!

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