Long-billed Murrelet Brachyramphus perdix


Justification of Red List Category
This species qualifies as Near Threatened because it is likely to be undergoing a moderately rapid population reduction owing to logging of the old-growth forests where it nests. Future oil exploration could exacerbate these declines.

Population justification
The global population size has not been accurately quantified, however it is said to number in the 'tens of thousands' (Konyukhov and Kitaysky 1995). The population in Russia has been estimated at <100,000 breeding pairs and <1,000 individuals on migration (Brazil 2009).

Trend justification
There is no information on the population trend, however logging is likely to be driving a moderately rapid decline in this species.

Distribution and population

Brachyramphus perdix breeds in Japan through the Sea of Okhotsk to the Kamchatka peninsula, Russia. Based on observations at sea during the breeding season, it might be also breeding in Alaska (Sealy and Carter 2012). It was split from Marbled Murrelet B. marmoratus (which breeds in California to the Aleutian Islands) in 1996 (Friesen et al. 1996). The population is estimated to number in the tens of thousands (Konyukhov and Kitaysky 1995). In Japan, it is rare in eastern Hokkaido, where breeding occurred historically; it is possible that very small numbers do still breed there (Namba 2013). The species breeds more commonly along the coast of the Sea of Okhotsk, especially near the Shiretoko peninsula. There are only few areas in Russia where the species is considered common: the lower Amur River area, particularly between Baydukov Island and Aleksandra Bay, near Magadan along the Khmitievsky Peninsula, Tauyskaya Bay, and the Koni Peninsula, as well as on the Kamchatka peninsula. It appears to be uncommon in the Primorye region and on Sakhalin island (where its distribution is patchy), and it is rare on the northern coast of the Sea of Okhotsk.


It breeds in old-growth coniferous forests within 100 km of the coast, wintering in sheltered coastal waters.


Along with the Marbled Murrelet Brachyramphus marmoratus, this species is under increasing threat from habitat loss resulting from the logging of coastal old-growth forests. Small-scale logging and wood harvesting has accelerated in recent years, particularly on Sakhalin island and the Kamchatka peninsula (IUCN 2012). Intensive development of the oil industry has occurred on the Okhotsk and Bering Sea shelves, constituting a further potential threat through direct species mortality and indirect ecosystem effects. Past examples include the 1997 Nakhodka oil spill off north Honshu, Japan (Namba 2013) and the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill which killed an estimated 8,400 [Marbled] murrelets, or about 3 percent of the Alaskan population (note: the Long-billed Murrelet and Marbled Murrelet were until recently considered the same species). The impact of chronic pollution is unknown (Piatt and Naslund 1995). The species is also at risk from incidental capture in gill nets. Previous reports of Marbled Murrelets revealed 3,300 birds (0.5-2% of the population) being captured annually in gill-nets in Alaska (Carter et al. 1995, Piatt and Naslund 1995), and 175-250 birds (at least 6.2% of breeding population) captured in a single season in Barkley Sound, British Columbia (Carter and Sealy 1984). Although local regulations (e.g. California) have been implemented and contributed to reducing the incidence of bycatch in more recent years, this threat continues to impact colonies in other locations.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
None are known.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct surveys to improve knowledge of the breeding and wintering grounds. Regularly monitor the population at important sites on breeding and wintering grounds. Ensure sufficient safeguards are put in place and enforced to prevent pollution in important parts of the sea range. Protect large areas of unlogged forest in important breeding areas.


Text account compilers
Symes, A., Taylor, J., Fjagesund, T., Khwaja, N., Benstead, P., Mahood, S., Hermes, C., Martin, R., Miller, E., Moreno, R.

Carter, H.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2018) Species factsheet: Brachyramphus perdix. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 11/12/2018. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2018) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 11/12/2018.