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Japanese Cormorant - BirdForum Opus

Adult non-breeding
Photo © by Joseph Morlan
Choshi Port, Chiba Prefecture, Japan, 10 February 2015

a.k.a. Temminck's Cormorant

Phalacrocorax capillatus


81–92 cm; wingspan 152 cm.
Adult blackish with noticeable greenish or greenish-blue gloss, white throat and cheek, and a partially yellow bill. In breeding plumage has extensive white head plumes. Sexes alike.

Similar Species

Photo © by DaninJapan
Location: Amami Island, Japan, 24 April 2009

Similar to Great Cormorant. Given close views, the two may be distinguished by the extent and shape of their bare yellow facial skin which is much reduced in Japanese Cormorant which shows a pointed rear projection of the gape line unlike the rounded rear gape of Great Cormorant.


Breeds along the coasts of northeast Asia including Korea, Japan, Russia and northeast China. In winter occurs off the east coast of China as far south asTaiwan.


This is a montypic species[1].


Restricted to rocky coasts. Rare inland.



Mostly fish, captured by pursuit-diving.


Colonial breeder in summer, nesting on cliffs or rocks usually on flat areas and marine terraces.


Usually silent away from breeding colonies. Calls at nest include a low guarr.


Disperses away from breeding areas after nesting.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Brazil, M. A. 1991. The Birds of Japan. Smithsonian Inst. Press, Washington DC.
  3. Orta, J., Jutglar, F., Kirwan, G.M. & Boesman, P. (2019). Japanese Cormorant (Phalacrocorax capillatus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/52634 on 19 March 2019).

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