red-faced cormorant

Exploring the Red-faced cormorant: [Urile urile]

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Scientific Classification

AnimaliaChordataVertebrataAvesNeornithesNeognathaeNeoavesSuliformesPhalacrocoracidaePhalacrocoraxPhalacrocorax urile

Red-faced cormorant

The Red-faced Cormorant (Phalacrocorax urile) also referred to as the red-faced shag or violet shag, is a species of bird in the Phalacrocoracidae family. The characteristic red skin on its faces is what distinguishes this kind of bird. From the eastern tip of Hokkaido in Japan and the northern Korean

Peninsula, across the Kuril Islands, to the southern tip of the Kamchatka Peninsula and the Aleutian Arc, and further along the Alaska Peninsula to the Gulf of Alaska, the habitat of their spans a vast geographic area. Within this wide range, the species has adapted to a variety of coastal settings.

Red-faced Cormorant


  • Species: Phalacrocorax urile
  • Family: Phalacrocoracidae
  • Common Names: Red-faced shag or violet shag
  • Distinctive Feature: Red facial skin
  • Geographical Range:
    • From the eastern tip of Hokkaido in Japan
    • Northern Korean Peninsula
    • Kuril Islands
    • Southern tip of the Kamchatka Peninsula
    • Aleutian Arc
    • Alaska Peninsula
    • Gulf of Alaska
  • Habitat: Diverse coastal environments within its range
  • Description
  • A bird of medium size with dark plumage
  • It stands out because to its prominent red face skin.
  • has unique physical traits during it’s breeding season.
  • Behaviour:
  • competent diver and swimmer
  • Swimming with just its head and neck above the water is a common sight.
  • Adaptable in the air, with powerful, straight flying patterns
  • Colonies of social birds may form, particularly during the breeding season.
  • Breeding:
  • Establishes breeding colonies, frequently near cliffs
  • Breeding season is distinguished by lavish displays of wooing
  • stick and seaweed nests perched atop cliffs or other rocky outcrops
  • The care and incubation of the chicks is assisted by both parents.
  • Food and Feeding:
  • Carnivorous diet, primarily fish
  • expert undersea hunter, making use of its dexterous diving and swimming skills
  • Captures prey with its hooked bill
  • eats a wide range of marine creatures, which helps it adapt to coastal habitats.


Formal DescriptionThey was formally described in 1789 by German naturalist Johann Friedrich Gmelin.
He used the binomial name Pelecanus urile, placing it in the genus Pelecanus in his revised edition of Linnaeus’s Systema Naturae.
Source of DescriptionGmelin based his description on John Latham’s “red-faced shag” and Thomas Pennant’s “red-faced corvarant.”
Historical ContextDifferent translations of Georg Wilhelm Steller’s exploration of the Kamchatka Peninsula were cited by the authors.
Taxonomic RevisionsFormerly classified in the genus Phalacrocorax, the species was moved to the resurrected genus Urile in 2014.
The genus Urile was initially introduced in 1856 by French naturalist Charles Lucien Bonaparte.
Phylogenetic StudyThe reclassification was based on a molecular phylogenetic study.
Specific EpithetThe epithet “urile” possibly originates from the Russian vernacular name, referring to the Kuril Islands.
MonotypicThe Phalacrocorax urile is monotypic, meaning no subspecies are recognized.
Relationship with OthersWithin the genus Urile, the Phalacrocorax urile is closely related to the Pelagic Cormorant (Urile pelagicus).
Red-faced Cormorant


The adult bird displays glossy feathers with a deep greenish-blue color that fades to a purplish or bronze tone on the back and flanks of the bird. In the breeding season, it has a characteristic double crown with white feathers on the sides, throat, and rump. The bird gets its name because of the striking orange or

red coloration of the skin on its face around its eyes and in the lores areas. While its coloring becomes less vibrant outside of the breeding season, its red face skin is still a distinctive characteristic that helps to differentiate it from the relatively similar pelagic cormorant.

This bird-like creature has brownish-black legs and feet. Wingspans range from 25 to 29 cm, with females generally having wings that are about 5 cm shorter. The adult individuals report weights between 1.5 and 2.3 kg, with females weighing 350 g less on average than males does.



They have a tendency to have better breeding success in areas that they share with pelagic cormorants. As a result, their population is currently trending increasing, especially in the eastern parts of their habitat. Even with this encouraging trend, the species is still considered to be of conservation concern; this is partly because to the paucity of information regarding its biology and ecological needs.

Species in same Genus

GenusSpeciesScientific Name
PhalacrocoraxRed-faced cormorantPhalacrocorax urile
PhalacrocoraxPelagic cormorantPhalacrocorax pelagicus
PhalacrocoraxDouble-crested cormorantPhalacrocorax auritus
PhalacrocoraxNeotropic cormorantPhalacrocorax brasilianus
PhalacrocoraxGreat cormorantPhalacrocorax carbo
PhalacrocoraxIndian cormorantPhalacrocorax fuscicollis
PhalacrocoraxJapanese cormorantPhalacrocorax capillatus
PhalacrocoraxCape cormorantPhalacrocorax capensis
Red-faced Cormorant


An analysis of the contents of the stomach indicates that bottom-feeding is the primary mode of feeding for the Phalacrocorax urile, and it has a penchant for cottids. Threats from predators are minor for adults, though river otters may try to feed on them on occasion. Furthermore, a number of corvid

species, including golden and bald eagles, are recognized as possible threats. Phalacrocorax urile eggs and chicks are vulnerable to gull and corvid predation, illustrating the wide range of difficulties encountered by this bird species at different phases of its life cycle.


The Phalacrocorax urile has a variable lifespan, although on average, it is known that these birds can live anywhere from 10 to 15 years in the wild. There are several factors that might affect a bird’s total lifespan, including the environment, predation, and food availability.


Although cormorants are generally recognized to be skilled aviators, their flying distance and speed can vary based on a variety of circumstances, including age, health, and wind speed. Usually flying at low speeds, cormorants are known for their powerful, straight wing beats.

Red-faced Cormorant


  1. Predation: Adult they are threatened by river otters, bald eagles, golden eagles, and other corvid species.
  2. Egg and Chick Predation: Phalacrocorax urile eggs and chicks are frequently preyed upon by gulls and corvids.
  3. Habitat Changes: Their areas of foraging and nesting may be impacted by changes in their habitat brought about by human activity and climate change.
  4. Food Source Availability: Their success in feeding can be impacted by variations in the quantity of their favorite prey, such as cottids.
  5. Human Disturbance: Human activities have the potential to stress the population and affect their mating habits, particularly during nesting seasons.
  6. Pollution: They may have negative health effects from pollution in their habitat, especially from water pollution.
  7. Climate Change: Changes in climatic patterns can have an impact on prey availability and distribution, which can therefore have an impact on the species’ general health.


The guttural and croaking sounds made by them include low growls and grunts. Communication is facilitated by these vocalizations, particularly during nesting and breeding activity. The species’ sounds are easily recognized.

Common Names in Different Languages

LanguageCommon Name
EnglishRed-faced Cormorant
FrenchCormoran à face rouge
SpanishCormorán Carirrojo
RussianКраснолицый баклан (Krasnolitsyy baklan)
Japaneseアカオヒガン (Akaohigan)
Chinese (Mandarin)红脸鸬鹚 (Hóngliǎn lúcí)
Korean붉은머리가마우지 (Bulgeunmeorigama-uji)
Red-faced Cormorant


  1. Q: Where is the red-faced cormorant commonly found?
    • The North Pacific, which includes portions of Asia and North America, is home to the Phalacrocorax urile primary breeding grounds—coastal regions and islands.
  2. Q: What does they eat?
    • Based on an analysis of stomach contents, it appears that the red-faced cormorant primarily feeds on the bottom, preferring cottids in particular.
  3. Q: Are Phalacrocorax urile endangered?
    • The Phalacrocorax urile is designated as a species of conservation concern even though it is not currently considered endangered, in part because of our inadequate understanding of its biology.
  4. Q: What are the main predators of adult red-faced cormorants?
    • A number of corvid species, including golden and bald eagles, river otters, and other adults, can prey on red-faced cormorants.
  5. Q: How long do Phalacrocorax urile live?
    • Phalacrocorax urile typically live between 10 and 15 years in the wild.
  6. Q: What threats do they face in their environment?
    • Predation, habitat loss, changes in the availability of food sources, human disturbance, pollution, and possible effects of climate change are among the threats.
  7. Q: How can I identify a Phalacrocorax urile?
    • Shiny plumage, a characteristic double crest when breeding, and brilliant orange or red facial skin are the characteristics of Phalacrocorax urile. They can be distinguished from other cormorant species by their size, color, and characteristics.
  8. Q: What is the breeding behavior of Phalacrocorax urile?
    • Building nests atop cliffs or steep ledges is a breeding habit. Both parents help with the incubation and upbringing of the chicks after they lay their eggs.
  9. Q: Do they migrate?
    • It is known that some Phalacrocorax urile populations migrate to new locations during the non-breeding seasons.
  10. Q: How can I contribute to the conservation of Phalacrocorax urile?
    • Their populations can be kept healthy by aiding conservation efforts, preventing disturbance to nesting locations, and raising public awareness of the value of protecting their habitats.

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