Japanese Cormorant Phalacrocorax capillatus


Justification of Red List Category
This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend is not known, but the population is not believed to be decreasing sufficiently rapidly to approach the thresholds under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification
The global population is estimated to number c.25,000-100,000 individuals (Delany and Scott 2006).

Trend justification
The population trend is difficult to determine because of uncertainty over the extent of threats to the species.

Distribution and population

This species occurs on the Pacific coast of Asia, breeding on the extreme south-east coast of Russia down to North Korea and South Korea, including central the central and northern coasts of Japan and the South Kuril Islands. During winter it can be found in small numbers off the eastern coast of China as far south as Taiwan (del Hoyo et al. 1992).


This marine species occupies rocky coastlines and islands, rarely being found inland. It feeds mostly on fish which it catches by pursuit-diving. Laying occurs between May and July in Japan in colonies on cliffs or rocks.


Disturbance from recreational activities in South-West Japan including tourism and sport-fishing has led to a complete loss of some colonies. While action is being taken to impose stricter regulations on activity around breeding colonies, recolonisation of past colonies has not yet been seen (Iguchi et al. 2015). Likewise in northern Japan, shooting and egg-collecting led to the collapse of many colonies. Although this threat is now reduced, thanks to protective measures in both Russia and Japan, the northern populations are yet to recover fully from past hunting pressures (Kameda and Tsuboi 2013).


Text account compilers
Calvert, R., Bennett, S., Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Fjagesund, T., Martin, R.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Phalacrocorax capillatus. Downloaded from on 24/09/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 24/09/2020.