Red-faced cormorant

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Red-faced cormorant
Red-faced Cormorant on St. Paul Island by Lisa Hupp USFWS.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Suliformes
Family: Phalacrocoracidae
Genus: Urile
U. urile
Binomial name
Urile urile
(Gmelin, 1789)
Phalacrocorax urile range map.png
Approximate range

Phalacrocorax urile

The red-faced cormorant (Urile urile), red-faced shag or violet shag, is a bird species of the family Phalacrocoracidae.

Its range spans from the eastern tip of Hokkaidō in Japan, northern korean peninsula, via the Kuril Islands, the southern tip of the Kamchatka Peninsula and the Aleutian Arc to the Alaska Peninsula and Gulf of Alaska.

The red-faced cormorant is closely related to the pelagic cormorant (U. pelagicus), which has a similar range, and like the pelagic cormorant is placed in the genus Urile. It was formerly classified in the genus Phalacrocorax, but a 2014 study supported reclassifying it and several other Pacific cormorant species into Urile.[2] The IOC followed this classification in 2021.[3]

Where it nests alongside the pelagic cormorant, the red-faced cormorant generally breeds the more successfully of the two species, and it is currently increasing in numbers, at least in the easterly parts of its range. It is however listed as being of conservation concern,[4] partly because relatively little is so far known about it.

The adult bird has glossy plumage that is a deep greenish blue in color, becoming purplish or bronze on the back and sides. In breeding condition it has a double crest, and white plumes on the flanks, neck and rump, and the bare facial skin of the lores and around the eyes is a bright orange or red, giving the bird its name; although the coloration is less vivid outside the breeding season, the red facial skin is enough to distinguish it from the otherwise rather similar pelagic cormorant. Its legs and feet are brownish black. Its wings range from 25 to 29 cm in extent, with females having on average about 5 cm shorter wings. Adults weigh between 1.5 and 2.3 kg, with females averaging 350 g less than males.

Analysis of stomach contents suggests that the red-faced cormorant is mainly a bottom feeder, taking cottids especially. Adults have few predators, though river otters may attempt to take them, as will corvids of various species, bald eagles and golden eagles. Gulls and corvids are common predators on eggs and chicks.


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2018). "Urile urile". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2018: e.T22696887A133509553. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2018-2.RLTS.T22696887A133509553.en. Retrieved 11 November 2021.
  2. ^ Kennedy, Martyn; Spencer, Hamish G. (2014-10-01). "Classification of the cormorants of the world". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 79: 249–257. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2014.06.020. ISSN 1055-7903. PMID 24994028.
  3. ^ "Taxonomic Updates – IOC World Bird List". Retrieved 2021-07-28.
  4. ^ "RED-FACED CORMORANT Phalacrocorax urile" (PDF). U.S Fish & Wildlife Service.
  • Johnsgaard, P. A. (1993). Cormorants, Darters and Pelicans of the World. Washington DC, Smithsonian Institution Press.