Cormorant (shag)

Meaning, Messages & Magic

Cormorant symbolizes taking action, bravery, and resourcefulness.

This regal bird knows exactly what it wants and how to get it. Cormorant is asking you to dive deep to catch your desires. Once a Cormorant commits to something they are usually able to achieve it because of their resourceful behavior and willingness to embrace the unknown.

Cormorants bravely choose to experience heavy challenges because they understand that doing uncomfortable things is necessary in order to achieve their goals. Cormorant is telling you that hard times are actually gifts that are leading you to your soul’s needs.

As a bird, you might find yourself getting caught in mental loops in your head as you soar through the air, but remember the Cormorant finds food and nourishment in the sea (heart & emotions). Try navigating your feelings through your heart more often than your head and you’ll fill your soul with abundance.

Cormorants have a shorter wingspan than other birds, which helps them swim better. This creates the need for more energy during flight. Deep breath work will help you gather the power you need for longer flight and to dive deeper into the waters of your heart field.


Cormorant is also referred to as a sea raven. I recommend studying Raven as it is strongly connected to the Cormorant (especially in their brave resourcefulness). Cormorants often swallow stones on purpose to help them dive deeper while fishing. Know that when you’re doing “what it takes” you will not choke. The stones/challenges will hold you down but only temporarily; you consciously chose to take it on knowing that you can let go of it once you’ve achieved a new level of growth. You are clever enough to know that bravely choosing to swallow heavy tasks leads to the deepest growth possible.


The Cormorant is often seen spreading their wings out to dry. This is because they don’t secrete enough oil to keep their feathers completely waterproof like other aquatic birds do. They are cleverly designed this way. Cormorants have an advantage over the other fish-diving birds because the water weighs down their feathers, making it more efficient for them to dive faster and deeper than others. You have this advantage too when you go for what you want. Drying off the wings reminds you to take a moment to open your heart and bask in gratitude after each success, instead of diving immediately into the next thing.


Besides fish, Cormorants actually eat a lot of eels and water snakes. Study Snake to help you better understand the predator/prey relationship you have with Snake. Snake has balancing qualities to offer you.


Cormorants produce pellets just like Owl, Hawk, and Eagle. This means that if you take on more than you can chew, swallow it anyway because you will be able to learn from what’s needed and let go off what’s no longer serving you.

-Tanya Casteel


Cormorant bird meaning symbolism dreams

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I want to hear about your Cormorant experiences. What stories or dreams have you had? Please share and join in the conversation below!


  1. Janet Jephcott

    I was out in my kayak tonight in the gathering dark enjoying to the peace, when I felt to look to my left. Two birds sat up very high in the trees on shore: an Osprey flew off and across the water with a pee pee pee call. While a cormorant started behind in beautiful silhouette against the clear sky.

    She looked small and young. And acted curious and relaxed twisting her head to look up and around and back again. She seeemed settled in for the night on her branch.

    I also encountered two beavers swimming in front of me and slapping their tails.

    I have been very very ill and trying to see a new healer plus move to a healthy home. But I need to complete an inheritance for the money it would help me with. There have been some hoops to jump through and I had been busy all day trying to find answers. Very trying time. Yet I know clearly that I want to move ahead in my life-no linger disabled. And doing my heart career. And living in an oasis of a home and land-a retreat for me and for my future partner and for clients, family and friends.

    • Nina Androski

      Hello, I was just watching 2 cormorants swimming and diving in a lake near me. I loved watching them look around. They kept moving their heads side to side. I was fascinated by them so I came home and googled cormorants and animal symbolism and came across your website. I love what you wrote about what they mean and I love your watercolor painting. I also paint watercolors! We can learn so much from these birds and their bravery and courage.

      • Tanya Casteel

        Thank you! Yes, I love observing nature and learning from them too

    • Tanya Casteel

      I’m glad you have clarity within yourself about what you want and need, and I love hearing about your connection with nature. Sending you many blessings on your journey.

  2. Margott A Mattison

    Was ilout at a local pond saw a cormorant come up with a fish eat it whole in in gulp?I have named him George?George Cormorant sounds like a ex Navy man?✌

  3. Liz

    Got up this morning to find an injured Cormorant in the fountain at the condo complex where I live. He was swimming in the fountain underneath the main entrance and I was worried because I grew up in the wilderness so I know that wild animals don’t choose to be near humans unless they are in distress. So I came out numerous times during the day (and by numerous, I mean more than 20 times by 10AM.) I observed him swimming in the fountain and noticed he was only using his right leg to swim. Later, I managed to get close enough to him when he was out of the the fountain to observe him walking along the edge of the fountain and noticed he was “limping” on his left leg. I got quiet and managed to get closer so he wouldn’t get back into the fountain and was able to see that his left web was partially sliced off. He had about 1/2 of his left web remaining. i decided to run my Sunday errands and see how he was when I got back. When I got back, he was still in the fountain and looking more stressed. I decided to call around to see if I could find a wildlife rescue. After many, many calls I got a call back. The moment I was about to pick up the call, Charlemagne (that’s what I named him) flew out of the fountain and squeezed his body through the fence to the back courtyard behind the complex next to the lagoon. Unfortunately, the fence around the back courtyard to the lagoon is a chainlink fence so he couldn’t get into the lagoon, although he kept trying! I went back with him and saw a gate that led to the lagoon. I have a gate key that opens every outside door to the complex and figured, “What the hell, let’s see if works” AND IT DID!!!! I took off my shirt (no worries, sports bra underneath,) and managed to “shoo” him to the gate that led to the lagoon. He went through and started swimming. Once I knew he was in his own habitat, I collapsed into tears. I cried so hard that a neighbor from the next complex over, yelled out his window, “Are you ok?” Yes, I said. Just having a feels.”

    • Tanya Casteel

      Wow, that sounds like a profound experience. I love how much compassion you have for Charlemagne. Thank you for sharing.

    • Satu

      Oh, I felt that I should have done more for my cormorant, because you are so correct. Wild animals don’t come near human if not in need of help! But the odds were really against me in doing anything else last night. If there had been a clearly something wrong with my cormorant I would have rescued him. I still feel maybe I should have done it. But also, maybe I did all what he needed. It is not easy to be alone in the wide world not feeling that nobody cares about you. Maybe he just needed somebody standing over him while he fell to sleep. I wish it was so.

  4. Satu

    I was walking down on the beach collecting crystals. I noticed a black cormorant on the beach acting funny. He was hopping around like a penguin and did seem to follow me. I walked slowly down the beach wondering if he needed help.

    He then went to the water and I noticed two seagulls following his actions. I turned and walked towards the seagulls who decided to move off, because of me. The cormorant was swimming around and seemed to be ok diving too. So I continued my crystal picking.

    Then I noticed the cormorant following me in the water. He was swimming beside me. I thought I have lost my mind. Why would a wild bird follow me? I thought I was just imagining it. I turned around to walk back on the beach to see if he was REALLY following me. Sure enough he got out of the water to the beach and waddled 2 metres away from me. He did stand there watching me and I did not know what to do. I asked if he needed some help, but did not get any definite answer (he did not speak human). While I did stand there transfixed he started to groom his feathers.

    A couple stopped by and asked who is my new friend. I got a phone number from them so I could call for animal rescue for help.

    After they left, my cormorant friend put his head under his wing and started to sleep. I felt that he was feeling safe, because I was watching over him. The tide was rising and darkness was falling. I did not know what to do.

    I called to the animal rescue number for advice. My cormorant woke up for my voice talking over the phone. He decided to jump to a higher perch on the rocks and promptly fell to sleep. Advice was to leave him to be. He probably wasn’t in any real trouble. Just an youngster who did not know how to be a real cormorant yet and he needed to dry his feathers before he could dive again.
    It all sounded so reasonable and my cormorant seemed so content sleeping on his high perch. I promised to return the next day if he was still there needing my help.
    But today the storm hit the coast and it’s been too bad to go for the beach. I wish that my cormorant is all ok out there, weathering this storm and I hope that he got his feathers dry before the storm did hit the coast.
    I feel very strong bond to him now. I probably will never know how things ended with him, but it was truly magical encounter. I am a bit shaken afterwards. How did he trust me so much to look after him while he fell to sleep?

  5. Zuzana

    Reading about Cormorant, as if I was reading about me.
    I have been taking advantage of pictures occuring on my espresso for years, I have decided lately to write about them on my blog. I found your amazing page thanks to todays cormorant appearance. Thank you!

  6. Tamilyn

    What does it mean when a massive amount come flying around in circles into a tree then out in circles back to same tree probably around 100 of them poss more 5-6 pm every day… sometimes they fly really close to my head while walking dog…it is very odd to see so many they literally fill up a huge big tree over a small man made lake. Since they have been coming the crows that used to come at that time no longer come.

  7. JLT

    My wife and I were riding bikes on Kelleys Island, Ohio (Lake Erie) and we came upon a sight: 2 large trees out on a VERY thin stretch of earth from the shore out into the lake – one tree was dead (all bare branches) – the other living – and in these 2 trees were over 70 cormorants (the dead tree was FULL of them) (we have some wonderful pics….) anyway it was the last day of our short (4 dy.) vacation – and this day was somewhat magical – or simply wonderful… it was a great trip, but we also had our own challenges (personal and interpersonal) that we seemingly successfully waded through – persevered through – (in our own, alternately, skillful and unskillful (or awkward) way : ) ) — This day seemed to be a fitting and very positive concluding day to this short – but long (in distance covered (?)) – trip (or journey (or part thereof…)(?))

  8. Anne

    My dream was as follows:
    I was walking with my middle daughter on the roads around a hillside near my house. We went into a shop which (in my dream!) was owned by a couple I met a few years ago at a festival. The lady, K, makes clothes and her partner D is a businessman. They live life on their own terms and we got on well when we met and stayed in touch on social media.

    Anyway, we went into their clothes shop (which was pretty deserted) and looked around, we ended up searching for a loo for my daughter! D was in the bathroom having a wash and when he came out – still wet from the bath – she went into the toilet. D and I had a chat outside.

    As we were chatting I noticed what I thought was a black coloured bird flying over the hill but as I looked closer I noticed it was actually a CORMORANT but it was sitting ON TOP OF a SWAN. The swan was flying and the cormorant was just sitting on its back, being flown….
    D was still talking but I told him to look, and we both watched as they flew around the hill and then came into land just behind us in a field to the rear, ON TOP OF a black and white friesan-type cow (it was a cow not a bull). These cows are farmed a lot where I live, for their milk…

    That’s the dream…. I feel like it was really important but I haven’t figured out the meaning! All help appreciated. Thanks for your great article!

  9. Leila

    I met one today, he was there basking in the sun.
    This evening I was called to look up their meaning and found this page straight away, every word resonates, it’s as if my angels and guides have written it.

    And you’re free of all those awful adverts so thank you so much! Xx



  1. On a Quest . – Lens of Thought - […] by swans through the archway to London, I was on my way. Two herons and a cormorant sat on…

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