LC
Razorbill Alca torda



Taxonomy

Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: #http://www.aerc.eu/DOCS/Bird_taxa_of _the_WP15.xls#.
Cramp, S. and Simmons, K.E.L. (eds). 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 1: Non-passerines. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.

IUCN Red List criteria met and history
Red List criteria met
Critically Endangered Endangered Vulnerable
- - -

Red List history
Year Category Criteria
2021 Least Concern
2018 Near Threatened A4ab
2016 Near Threatened A4ab
2015 Near Threatened A4ab
2012 Least Concern
2009 Least Concern
2008 Least Concern
2004 Least Concern
2000 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1994 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1988 Lower Risk/Least Concern
Species attributes

Migratory status full migrant Forest dependency does not normally occur in forest
Land-mass type Average mass -
Range

Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence (breeding/resident) 19,500,000 km2 medium
Extent of Occurrence (non-breeding) 22,800,000 km2 medium
Severely fragmented? no -
Population
Estimate Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
Population size 838000-1660000 mature individuals medium estimated 2021
Population trend increasing - estimated -
Generation length 14 years - - -

Population justification: The global population is estimated to number between 838,000–1,660,000 mature individuals, or 1,257,000–2,490,000 total individuals, derived from flyway population estimates (Wetlands International, 2021). The European population is estimated at 519,000–1,070,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International in prep.). This species breeds mostly in Iceland, a population that was once believed to make up 60-70% of the global population (Costa et al. 2019); now, Iceland holds the majority in Europe (41%) but not globally due to increases elsewhere. Europe holds more than 90% of the global population.

Trend justification: This species was previously thought to be declining at a rate of 25-29% over three generations (c. 43 years). This was based largely on information from Iceland, which at that time was considered to hold c. 60% of the global breeding population, and where a national decline of 17% had been estimated between counts in 1983-1986 and 2006-2008 (Gardarsson et al., 2019), as well as a 45% decline in world's largest colony (Látrabjarg) between 2006-2009 (G. Gudmundsson in litt. 2015). Since then, however, monitoring of selected colonies between 2009 and 2017 has revealed a significant increase at Látrabjarg and a slow increase elsewhere (Kolbeinsson & Poraninsson, 2017). The population at Stora Karlsö, Sweden, has been increasing since the 1970s and now hosts up to 30% of the Baltic Sea population (Olsson & Hentati-Sundberg, 2017). It has also been suggested that the earlier decline at least partly reflected a temporary redistribution, with some birds moving from Látrabjarg to Grimsey and beyond (Skarpheoinsson, 2018). 

New data collated from across Europe for the 2021 European Red List of Birds (BirdLife International in prep.) indicate that the species has increased significantly across its European range, with nine countries holding 90% of the European population reporting increases this century, and none reporting declines. Iceland still holds the largest single population in Europe (41%), but increases elsewhere (especially in the UK, Sweden, Ireland and Finland) mean it no longer holds the majority. As Europe holds >90% of the global population, and there is no sign that the small North American population is declining (Lavers et al., 2020), there is no evidence to suggest that the population is declining overall, let alone at a rate approaching 30% over three generations.


Country/territory distribution
Country/Territory Presence Origin Resident Breeding visitor Non-breeding visitor Passage migrant
Algeria extant vagrant
Austria extant vagrant
Belgium extant native yes
Canada extant native yes
Croatia extant vagrant
Czechia extant vagrant
Denmark extant native yes yes
Egypt extant vagrant
Estonia extant native yes
Faroe Islands (to Denmark) extant native yes
Finland extant native yes yes
France extant native yes yes
Germany extant native yes
Gibraltar (to UK) extant native yes yes
Greenland (to Denmark) extant native yes
Hungary extant vagrant
Iceland extant native yes
Ireland extant native yes
Italy extant vagrant
Japan extant vagrant
Latvia extant native yes yes
Lithuania extant native yes yes
Malta extant vagrant
Mauritania extant vagrant
Montenegro extant vagrant
Morocco extant native yes
Netherlands extant native yes
Norway extant native yes
Poland extant native yes
Portugal extant native yes
Russia extant native yes
Russia (European) extant native yes
Serbia extant vagrant
Slovenia extant vagrant
Spain extant native yes
St Pierre and Miquelon (to France) extant native yes yes
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) extant native yes
Sweden extant native yes
Tunisia extant vagrant
United Kingdom extant native yes
USA extant native yes

Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA)
Country/Territory IBA Name
Greenland (to Denmark) Kitsissut Avalliit (Ydre Kitsissut)
Sweden Karlsö Islands
Sweden Bonden Island
Sweden Archipelago of Stockholm
Finland Föglö southern archipelago
Finland Lågskär-Nyhamn
Finland Mulklobb
Finland Eckerö and Hammarland archipelago
Finland Korppoo and Nauvo southern archipelago
Finland Pernaja outer archipelago
Finland Itäinen Suomenlahti National Park
Finland Merenkurkku archipelago
Russia (European) Ainov islands
Russia (European) Seven islands
Greenland (to Denmark) Sermilinnguaq
Greenland (to Denmark) Islands west and north-west of Simiuttat and south of Qilangarsuit
Gibraltar (to UK) Strait of Gibraltar
Denmark Northern Kattegat
Denmark Skagerrak-Southwest Norwegian trench
Greenland (to Denmark) Taateraat in Evighedsfjorden
Greenland (to Denmark) Søndre Isortoq
Sweden Little Middelgrund
Estonia Irbe strait
Denmark Lille Middelgrund
Russia (European) Onega Bay of the White Sea
United Kingdom Foula
United Kingdom Flannan Isles
Canada Gannet Islands
Canada Grand Manan Archipelago
United Kingdom Buchan Ness to Collieston Coast
United Kingdom Caithness Cliffs
United Kingdom Cape Wrath
United Kingdom Fair Isle
United Kingdom Firth of Forth Islands
United Kingdom Flamborough Head and Bempton Cliffs
United Kingdom Fowlsheugh
United Kingdom Handa
United Kingdom Mingulay and Berneray
United Kingdom North Rona and Sula Sgeir
United Kingdom Pembrokeshire Cliffs
United Kingdom Shiant Isles
United Kingdom Rathlin Island
United Kingdom St Abbs Head to Fast Castle
United Kingdom St Kilda
United Kingdom Skokholm and Skomer
United Kingdom Sanda Island
United Kingdom Troup, Pennan and Lion Heads
Sweden Bay of Skälder
Sweden Bay of Brå – Hävringe Island
Sweden Archipelago of Nothern Hälsingland
Sweden Gnäggen Island
Ireland Horn Head cliffs
Ireland Cliffs of Moher
Ireland Saltee Islands
Ireland Tory Island
Ireland Lambay Island
Poland East Border Waters
Lithuania Marine waters along the Curonian Spit
Poland Central Polish coastal waters
Poland Pomeranian bay
Iceland Drangey
Iceland Ingolfshofdi
Iceland Grimsey ut af Eyjafirdi
Iceland Latrabjarg
Iceland Krysuvikurberg
Iceland Vestmannaeyjar
Iceland Skoruvik-Skalabjarg
Iceland Hornbjarg & Haelavikurbjarg
Norway Nord-Fugløy
Norway Slettnes
Norway Lille Kamøya & Bondøya
Norway Nykvåg
Norway Sør-Fugløy
Norway Gjesværstappan
Norway Hjelmsøy
Norway Loppa
Norway Runde
Netherlands Brown Ridge

Habitats & altitude
Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Marine Coastal/Supratidal Sea Cliffs and Rocky Offshore Islands major breeding
Marine Intertidal Rocky Shoreline major breeding
Marine Intertidal Tidepools major breeding
Marine Neritic Macroalgal/Kelp major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Macroalgal/Kelp major breeding
Marine Neritic Pelagic suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Pelagic suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Seagrass (Submerged) major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Seagrass (Submerged) major breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Loose Rock/pebble/gravel major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Loose Rock/pebble/gravel major breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Rock and Rocky Reefs major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Rock and Rocky Reefs major breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy major breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy-Mud major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy-Mud major breeding
Marine Oceanic Epipelagic (0-200m) suitable non-breeding
Marine Oceanic Mesopelagic (200-1000m) suitable non-breeding
Altitude   Occasional altitudinal limits  

Threats & impact
Threat (level 1) Threat (level 2) Impact and Stresses
Biological resource use Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources - Unintentional effects: (large scale) [harvest] Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Declines Medium Impact: 6
Stresses
Indirect ecosystem effects, Species mortality
Biological resource use Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals - Intentional use (species is the target) Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Declines Low Impact: 5
Stresses
Species mortality
Climate change & severe weather Storms & flooding Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Declines Low Impact: 5
Stresses
Indirect ecosystem effects, Species mortality
Climate change & severe weather Temperature extremes Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Declines Medium Impact: 6
Stresses
Indirect ecosystem effects, Reduced reproductive success
Energy production & mining Mining & quarrying Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Stresses
Indirect ecosystem effects, Species disturbance
Energy production & mining Renewable energy Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Causing/Could cause fluctuations Low Impact: 5
Stresses
Indirect ecosystem effects, Species disturbance
Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - Named species Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Declines Low Impact: 5
Stresses
Reduced reproductive success, Species mortality
Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - Neovison vison Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Declines Low Impact: 5
Stresses
Reduced reproductive success, Species mortality
Pollution Industrial & military effluents - Oil spills Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 5
Stresses
Ecosystem degradation, Reduced reproductive success, Species mortality
Pollution Industrial & military effluents - Type Unknown/Unrecorded Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Unknown Unknown
Stresses
Species mortality

Utilisation
Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Food - human - - non-trivial recent
Pets/display animals, horticulture - - international non-trivial recent

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Species factsheet: Alca torda. Downloaded from https://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/razorbill-alca-torda on 22/02/2024.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2024) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from https://datazone.birdlife.org on 22/02/2024.