Japanese Waxwing Bombycilla japonica


Justification of Red List Category
This scarce species is thought to have a moderately small global population size, and is threatened by both habitat loss and persecution for the wild bird trade. It is therefore currently considered Near Threatened, and should be carefully monitored.

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is described as generally uncommon, although locally common in suitable habitat (del Hoyo et al. 2007), while national population estimates include: c.100-10,000 breeding pairs, c.50-1,000 individuals on migration and c.50-1,000 wintering individuals in China; c.50-10,000 individuals on migration and c.50-10,000 wintering individuals in Japan and c.100-10,000 breeding pairs and c.50-1,000 individuals on migration in Russia (Brazil 2009).

Trend justification
This species is suspected to be declining, although the magnitude of this trend is poorly known. Declines are likely to be caused by trapping for the wild bird trade, as well as habitat loss.

Distribution and population

Bombycilla japonica breeds only in the far east of Russia, where it has been found nesting in eastern Yakutia, Khabarovsk and Amur (BirdLife International 2001). It is generally uncommon, but locally common on the breeding grounds, and its total population may be moderately small. It is a non-breeding visitor to Japan, where it is uncommon and sporadic, North and South Korea, where it is irregular and uncommon, mainland China, where it is uncommon in the north and rare in the south, and Taiwan (China).


It breeds in forested areas (favouring conifers), requiring fruiting trees to meet its dietary requirements. In winter, it occurs in deciduous and mixed forest but also more open habitats including parks and gardens if fruit trees are present. Also feeds on insects while breeding. The species breeds late in the boreal summer, laying eggs in June-July. It undertakes a relatively short migration, appearing to move in response to variable fruit crops.


It has presumably been affected by the logging and development of its forest habitat, particularly on the breeding grounds. Since 1998, 5,390 wild individuals have been imported into EU countries alone, the majority exported from China (UNEP-WCMC CITES Trade Database, January 2005), a level of trade that might be a significant threat to the species.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
The species is listed in Annex D of the EU Wildlife Trade Regulations and therefore EU import levels are monitored.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Continue to monitor levels of international trade in this species. Monitor rates of forest loss on the species's breeding grounds. Conduct ecological studies to determine habitat requirements throughout the annual cycle. Protect areas of suitable habitat and safeguard against logging and development.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Gilroy, J., Taylor, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Bombycilla japonica. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 15/08/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 15/08/2020.