WatchList Species Account for Red-faced Cormorant (Phalacrocorax urile)

Qualifies for the list as a Declining Yellow List Species

Redfaced Cormorant. Photo:


The Red-faced Cormorant’s range in North America extends throughout the Aleutian Islands, Pribilof Islands, and a few sites in the Gulf of Alaska and Norton Sound. It also breeds in southeast Kamchatka, Russia, Commander Islands, Kuril Island, to northern Japan. Much of its North American breeding habitat lies within the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge.


Its inaccessible breeding sites on steep cliff faces, its wary nature and the fact that it is the least social of all the cormorants means that behavioral and ecological information on it is hard to gather; little is known of it save distribution and rudimentary ecology. Compounding the problem is the fact that many of the accounts of the bird are based on observations of mixed groups of Red-faced Cormorants the closely-related Pelagic Cormorants. It is particularly vulnerable to threats such as oil spills, chemical contamination, and near-shore fishing, since it frequents inshore and coastal waters.


One estimate of the world population of the species is 155,000 individuals, of which about a third occur in North America. The bird has been helped by efforts to eradicate introduced Arctic foxes on many of the Aleutian Islands. There is a potential for human disturbance of vulnerable colonies in the Russian Far East.