Japan

Azure-winged Magpie Cyanopica cyanus ©Ian Merrill Website
Birding Japan

Japan is located in the northwest Pacific Ocean. Being latitudinally long, the island chain covers a wide climatic range; from the boreal to the sub-tropical climate zone. There are also two ecological lines which divide the countries flora and fauna. These are Blakiston’s Line (between Hokkaido and Honshu) and the Watase’s Line (southern Japan). Because of this unusual ecological background, Japan’s avifauna is incredibly rich. More than 600 species have been recorded to date. Most of them are migratory (more than 60%) whilst approximately 60 species are either endemic or sub-regional endemic, including the internationally famous Okinawa Rail, Blakiston’s Fish-owl, Japanese Murrelet, Red-crowned Crane, Pryer’s Woodpecker and Lidth’s Jay.

Birding in Japan is increasingly popular. The largest nature conservation NGO, the Wild Bird Society of Japan, has more than 53,000 members and there are more birders who do not belong to the WBS-J. Twitching is becoming more and more common. People can get to rare birds within a few hours of their discovery because of the development of the internet and mobile telephones.

Some top birding spots are set out below.

Top Sites
  • Amami Island

    Satellite View
    Best place for Lidth's Jay and Amami Woodcock
  • Eastern Hokkaido

    Satellite View
    For Blakiston's Fish-Owl, Red-crowned Crane and Steller's Sea-Eagle.
  • Ferry between Hokkaido and Honshu

    Satellite View
    For seabirds.
  • Hakata Bay

    Satellite View
    For Black-faced Spoonbill and Saunder's Gull.
  • Izumi

    Satellite View
    For White-naped, Hooded, Sandhill, Common and Siberian Cranes.
  • Karuizawa

    Satellite View
    For summer migrants
  • Miyake Island

    Satellite View
    For Seven Island Thrush, Styan's Grasshopper Warbler and Ijima's Warbler.
  • Okinawa

    Satellite View
    For Okinawa Rail, Pryer's Woodpecker and Ryukyu Robin.
Contributors
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 619

    (As at September 2018)
  • Number of bird species: National Bird

    Green Pheasant Phasianus versicolor
Endemics
  • Number of endemics: 14

    Copper Pheasant Phasianus soemmerringi, Green Pheasant Phasianus versicolor, Okinawa Rail Rallus okinawae,, Amami Woodcock Scolopax mira, Amami Woodpecker Dendrocopos owstoni, Okinawa Woodpecker Dendrocopos noguchii, Japanese Green Woodpecker Picus awokera, Japanese Skylark Alauda japonica, Ryūkyū Minivet Pericrocotus tegimae, Amami Thrush Zoothera major, Izu Thrush Turdus celaenops, Bonin Honeyeater Apalopteron familiar, Yellow Bunting, Emberiza sulphurata, Lidth's Jay Garrulus lidthi
  • Number of endemics: 6 Breeding Endemics

    Matsudaira's Storm Petrel Oceanodroma matsudairae, Japanese Snipe Gallinago hardwickii, Crested Murrelet Synthliboramphus wumizusume, Ijima's Willow Warbler Phylloscopus ijimae, Japanese Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus xanthodryas, Ryūkyū Robin Erithacus komadori
Checklist

  • iGoTerra Checklist

    iGoTerra Checklist
    Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web
Useful Reading

  • A Birdwatcher's Guide to Japan

    by Mark Brazil | Kodansha America | 1987 | Paperback | 220 pages, Maps | ISBN: 0870118498 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Birds of Japan

    By Mark Brazil | Christopher Helm | 2018 | Paperback | 416 Pages | 189 plates with colour illustrations; colour photos, colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9781472913869 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Birds of Japan

    | By Otani Chikara | Lynx Edicions | 2019 | Flexibound | 392 Pages | 1800+ colour illustrations, 540+ colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9788416728121 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Birds of Japan and North-East Asia

    (A Photographic Guide) | by Tadao Shimba | Christopher Helm | 2007 | Paperback | 656 pages | 1750 colour photos | ISBN: 9781472947246 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Field Guide to the Birds of South-East Asia

    By Norman Arlott | William Collins | 2017 | Hardback | 432 pages, 178 plates with colour illustrations; colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9780007429547 Buy this book from NHBS.com
Birding Aps
  • Japanese Birds

    Apple iOS | Android
    | Enwit Inc | 280.4 MB | Requires iOS 9.3 or later | Requires Android 5.0 and up |

    This app provides information on 250 species of birds in Japan, complete with photographs, descriptions, and sounds. There are 364 sounds—including songs, calls, and drumming. Beautiful birdsong, passionate canzone, the melancholy melody of a love song, intense drumming, birdcall as daily communication—enjoy the diverse world of wild birds.
Useful Information
  • Japan Nature Guides

    http://www.japannatureguides.com/Japan Nature Guides was founded in 2011 with the aim of providing accessible information on the natural history of Japan, to provide information on when and where to go to watch birds, mammals and other wildlife in Japan, and to facilitate guided or un-guided visits throughout the archipelago.
Observatories
  • Yatsu Higata Nature Observation Center

    Observatory WebsiteSatellite View
    Yatsu Higata is playing an important role as a stopover point for the migrating birds flying between the land of the North (Siberia) and the countries of the South (Australia and Southeast Asia). Yatsu Higata presents the people so many happy encounters with the summer-birds who come to nurse their babies, the winter-birds who fly in to winter and the traveler birds perching in spring and fall. (Damag due to the 2011 earthquake has now been repaired and the obs re-opened in April)
Museums & Universities
  • Abiko City Museum of Birds

    Harmony among Birds and People
Organisations
  • Hawk Migration Network of Japan

    Website
    Site in Japanese
  • Japan Alcid Society

    Website
    Includes a photogallery
  • Wild Bird Society of Japan

    Website
    Wild Bird Society of Japan is a private organization founded in 1934 which has over 45,000 members and 90 chapters throughout Japan. Its purpose is to protect birds and their habitat, to encourage more people to enjoy bird watching, and to carry on research concerning the status and habitat of birds.
Reserves

Abbreviations Key

  • BS Karuizawa Wild Bird Sanctuary

    WebpageSatellite View
    The Karuizawa Wild Bird Sanctuary (Karuizawa Yacho no Mori) is about 100 hectares of forestland a little north-east of the resort town of Karuizawa in Nagano prefecture. The Sanctuary is forestland which contains among other trees Japanese chestnut and larch. There are about 3km of paths which visitors can freely wander through, observing the variegated flora and fauna. Over eighty species of birds, many of them quite rare and sporting beautiful plumage, can be viewed here throughout the year.
  • BS Osaka-Nankou Sanctuary

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Osaka Nankou Bird Sanctuary is in the northwest corner of Sakishima landfill with about 1,000 ha area in Osaka Bay. West side of the sanctuary faces the Osaka Bay through the sea bank. Now Osaka Nankou Bird Sanctuary plays a role as an important stopover site, and is nominated as one of Japan's important wetlands by the Ministry of the Environment.
  • BS Syunkunitai Wild Bird Sanctuary

    InformationSatellite View
    Syunkunitai is known as a important habitat for birds and a quite famous bird-watching area throughout Japan. Syunkunitai is a long and narow sandbank where has 8km in length and 1.3km in width. It is surrounded by the water and has various natural habitats as the stream, marsh, grassland and deciduous forest etc., therefore various species of birds, animals, insects and plants can live in here. About 250 species of birds have been recorded and endangered species as Red-crowned Cranes, White-tailed Eagles and Black Woodpeckers breed in Syunkunitai.
  • BS Tateyama Wild Bird Sanctuary

    InformationSatellite View
    Due to its location in the center of the Japanese Archipelago, this area has long been used by migratory birds as a place to rest and gather food and water, for which reason it has been designated as a protected bird sanctuary…
  • BS Tokyo Port Wild Birds Park

    WebsiteSatellite View
    This is a small bird sanctuary (27 hectares) of the Wild Bird Society of Japan in the highly developed harbour area between central Tokyo and Haneda airport. It consists actually of two small parks, separated by a road. The entrance is in the west park. This park contains two small freshwater ponds closely surrounded by small trees and shrubs. Via a footbridge over the road one reaches the eastern park: a small open complex of freshwater ponds and mud flats and a larger tidal basin. In the middle there is a nicely designed building for bird observation with lots of telescopes, a tiny library and friendly japanese guides. In March 97 reconstruction of the eastern park has begun.
  • BS Tsurui Ito Tancho Crane Sanctuary

    WebpageSatellite View
    This time we would like to introduce HARADA, Osamu, Chief Ranger of the Tsurui-Ito Red-Crowned Crane Sanctuary. Tsurui Village, Hokkaido, where Harada works, is well known as a feeding ground for Red-crowned cranes in winter. The red-crowned crane has been designated a special natural treasure of Japan. Harada is one of the leading activists striving to protect these precious birds. However, he does not focus on only the cranes. In order to protect the cranes, we must think about the whole environment in which they live. We had an interesting interview with HARADA about how he has been facing the present situation of the cranes and about the abundant nature of Hokkaido.
  • BS Utonai-ko Sanctuary

    InformationSatellite View
    In May, 1981, the Wild Bird Society of Japan designated Lake Utonai and its surrounding marshland covering 511 hectares as a Bird Sanctuary, the nation's first of its kind, for the purpose of preserving nature and the wildlife as well as propagating the drive. In the sanctuary, a Nature Center, an observation hut and Bird-watching paths are provided. Aiming at protecting Lake Utonai, including its surrounding marshland and waterfowl, the city and nature protection organizations are lobbing the sanctuary to be designated as a location registered with the Lamsar Treaty through the Environmental Agency and other Authorities concerned.
  • BS Yonago Waterbird Sanctuary

    WebpageSatellite View
    Yonago Waterbirds Sanctuary Companion Circle is a citizens organization which supports the activities of the Yonago Waterbirds Sanctuary… [Japanese only]
  • NP Kushiro Marshland

    WebpageSatellite View
    The Kushiro Marshland in Hokkaido was designated as a national park in 1987 in order to preserve the country's largest wetland and marsh habitat which supports the only known population of endangered Japanese Cranes in Japan.
  • NR Koyaike Park

    InformationSatellite View
    A pond occupies about half of the park, and viewing is possible during all four season. In addition to such sights as ducks, egrets, and whistler swans, in the winter visitors can also see tufted ducks.
  • WII IBA Katano-kamoike Lake

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Katano-kamoike is a permanent freshwater lake in Kaga City, in the western part of Ishikawa Prefecture, central Honshu (main island), Japan. The Lake is surrounded by forested hills and rice fields. The Sea of Japan lies beyond the hill in the northwest of the Lake. The Lake is a wintering sites of the largest numbers of White-fronted Goose and Middendorf's Bean Goose in the western Japan.
  • WII Kushiro International Wetland Center

    WebsiteSatellite View
    The Kushiro International Wetland Centre (KIWC) is committed to promoting the wise use of wetlands concept and specific approaches to this end. Such use is intended to enable the utilization of gifts provided by wetlands in daily life while protecting the ecological integrity of these areas. KIWC is based in the Kushiro region of Hokkaido in northern Japan...
  • WII Lake Akkeshi - Bekanbeushi Marsh

    InformationSatellite View
    Lake Akkeshi is a shallow and brackish lake adjoining Akkeshi bay with a perimeter of 26 km. It is famed for its oyster and short-necked clam farming. At low tide several tidelands become exposed which provide good feeding grounds for waterfowl. For this reason, Japanese Crane breed here from spring to autumn whilst Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus; over ten species of wild geese, ducks, White-tailed Sea Eagle Haliaeetus albicilla and Steller's Sea Eagle H. pelagicus are to be found here from autumn to spring.
  • Wetlands

    WebpageSatellite View
    Japan currently has 50 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites), with a surface area of 148,002 hectares.
  • Wildlife Protection Areas in Japan

    InformationSatellite View
    As of 1 November 2011, seventy-nine Wildlife Protection Areas had been established at a national level, covering an area of 5,772 km2, including 1,561 km2 of Special Protection Areas.[6] A further three Wildlife Protection Areas totalling 52.3 km2 were established in June 2012, prior to the eleventh Ramsar wetland conference which takes place from 6 to 13 July 2012
Forums & Mailing Lists
  • Kantori

    Mailing List Discussion Group
    Birds and birdwatching in Japan. (Active since spring 1997, now well over 375 members). Also see their Website
Guides & Tour Operators


Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

  • Birding Ecotours

    Tour Operator
    Japan’s avifauna is incredibly rich, with more than 600 species having been recorded here. More than 60% are migratory, therefore winter is the preferred birding season in Japan. This is the time for watching wintering Hooded and White-naped Cranes in addition to the native Red-crowned Crane. and many other resident and migrant species in addition to the approximately 60 endemic or regionally endemic species.
  • Japan Birding

    Tour Operator
Trip Reports


Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

  • 2008 [02 February] - Mark Finn

    Report
    The Birdwatching Breaks to Japan was probably the most successful tour to date recording several rarities and scarce Japanese endemic species. Notable sightings included Short-tailed, Laysan and Black-footed Albatrosses off the Nagano to Tomakomai ferry, Lesser White-fronted and Middendorf's Bean Geese at Komatsu, drake Surf Scoter off Hokkaido and a wintering Forest Wagtail in Kyushu. In addition to this we again had incredible views of Blakiston Eagle (Fish) Owls, Red-crowned Cranes and White-tailed and Steller's Sea Eagles on Hokkaido…
  • 2009 [03 March] - Keith Barnes

    Report
    This trip was a quickfire junket to the islands of Japan to nab the winter specialties. The clients had already done a Japan trip in summer and had spent considerable time in eastern Asia already, meaning that a few East Asia specialty birds like Black-faced Spoonbill and Baer’s Pochard were not target species…
  • 2010 [02 February] - Mark Finn

    Report
    Birdwatching Breaks operate one of the best winter itineraries to Japan and our tour this year was no exception as we recorded a host of species including most of the endemic birds and a few stragglers from North America. In a species total of 170, we had many highlights including three Blakiston’s Fish Owls at a private site in Eastern Hokkaido, Japanese Murrelets off the Kyushu coast and hundreds of wintering Steller’s and White-tailed Sea Eagles. In Kyushu the mild weather attracted wintering Intermediate Egret and Brown Shrike whilst several Black-faced Spoonbills were also noted…
  • 2010 [06 June] - Petri Hottola - East Hokkaido

    Report
    Most foreign birdwatchers visit East Hokkaido in winter, in order to look for the large concentrations of sea-eagles and wintering seabirds. Winter is, however, not the only good birding season in the North of Japan. On the contrary, late spring—early summer offers some of the best birds and weather conditions. There are no biting insects, most of the trees have fresh leaves, spring flowers bloom, together with cherry trees, the air has a fragrant smell, the bird singing season is at its peak and early breeders such as Red-crowned Cranes already have the first young ones on the marshlands. Such were the conditions during my visit to Hokkaido between 7th to 12th June, in 2010…
  • 2013 [01 January] - Bob Sundstrom

    PDF Report
    …As amazing and memorable as the fish-owl was, that experience was rivaled closely by the Red- crowned Cranes on Hokkaido. Known also as Japanese Crane and considered the largest of all cranes, the people of Hokkaido have gone to great lengths to help this endangered species thrive on the island. We first saw Red-crowned Cranes at sunrise, as a flock of hundreds stood in the icy shallows of a river turned pink by the first rays of sun. Later we watched the cranes at gathering areas where they fed, and often pairs would dance together and raise their necks side by side while giving loud, musical unison calls. A magical experience…
  • 2013 [02 February] - Keith Barnes

    PDF Report
    …Our forays into the forest around Kurizawa were very successful, with Japanese Pygmy and Japanese Green woodpeckers providing regular entertainment. We got very lucky with both Long- tailed and Pallas’ rosefinches and Japanese Grosbeaks in town this year, and Rustic Buntings and Japanese Green Pheasant walking the overgrown fields….
  • 2013 [03 March] - Dave Farrow

    PDF Report
    …This year's Birdquest tour to Japan in Winter was once again a wonderful safari of superb birds both large and small. We saw a thrilling six species of Cranes – the dancing Japanese Cranes of Hokkaido (always a favourite), plus the noisy and almost overwhelming hordes of Hooded and White-naped Cranes at Arasaki, that were joined by a few Sandhill and Common Cranes, and the big prize of a single immature Siberian Crane. The Eagles of the icy north score highly too, with our 'Nature Cruise' into the pack ice bringing us nose-to-nose with hundreds of Steller's Sea Eagles and White-tailed Eagles, squabbling over the fish thrown out for them, all the time attended by swarms of large Gulls picking up the scraps…
  • 2013 [04 April] - Peter Ericsson - Honshu

    Report
    Otaku in Southern Tokyo is a bit of a yuppie area and reminded me of 'small town' western cities. My 1st bird the following morning was a bunch of Eastern Jungle Crows, familiar from home but a lot more vocal here. Eurasian Treesparrows followed after that. Suddenly some unfamiliar sounds came to me…what could it be?….here I was on my friend's balcony….I spotted something medium sized, had a feeling it could be Brown-eared Bulbuls……ran for the bins downstairs and nicely got a pair in full view…..great looking bird with lots of interesting sounds….my 1st lifer!…
  • 2013 [05 May] - Dion Hobcroft

    Report
    …Owston's Woodpecker was watched drumming at close range with Ryukyu Minivet seen collecting nesting material. We opted for a midday siesta before heading out in the afternoon to the Kimsakubaru Virgin Forest Park. After a while we picked up a male Ryukyu Flycatcher that gave super views. At the bottom of the hill we heard a few Japanese Paradise Flycatchers, one of which gave a fast flyover view….
  • 2013 [06 June] - Dave Farrow

    PDF Report
    …On the busy island of Honshu in wetland areas we saw Japanese Reed Bunting, Marsh Grassbird, Japanese Green Pheasant and many Great Bitterns, to the mountain forests of Karuizawa and Mount Fuji where we found Latham’s Snipe, Japanese Green Woodpecker, Japanese Wagtail, Japanese Grosbeak, Japanese Yellow Bunting, Japanese Accentor, Brown and Japanese Thrushes, a stunning pair of Siberian Thrushes, Chestnut-cheeked Starling, Japanese Robin, Siberian Blue Robin, Red-flanked Bluetails, Eastern Crowned Warbler, Sakhalin and Japanese Leaf Warblers. On the delightful island of Miyakejima we saw Pleske’s Warbler, Ijima’s Leaf Warbler, Izu Thrush and Izu Tit, plus more Japanese Robins, Japanese Woodpigeon and Northern Boobook, and from the ferry we saw numerous Bonin Petrels, Black-footed Albatrosses, a Wedge-tailed and countless thousands of Streaked Shearwaters….
  • 2013 [08 August] - Petri Hottola

    PDF Report
    August may clearly be recommended for searching for the enigmatic Amami Thrush, and other Amami endemics. Even though the thrushes do not sing, at least not as actively as in early spring, the young birds are there, more numerous than during the rest of the year (cf. mortality) and also possibly less wary than the adults. The other special birds are relatively easy to spot, including the Amami Woodcock. The 22 Amami Yama-Shigis on the second night felt like a rather large total, after reading about guided tours with around 10 birds, at maximum…
  • 2013 [11 November] - Stephen Burch - Hokkaido & Kyushu

    Report
    With a business trip to Tokyo in mid November 2013, I could not possibly turn up this opportunity for some early winter birding and photography afterwards! The lure of highly charismatic species in Hokkaido such as Steller's Sea Eagle, Red-crowned Crane, Blakiston's Fish Owl, not to mention the possibility of several eastern auks was irresistible, despite the somewhat daunting prosect of lone travel in a country with a completely different language, alphabet and customs…
  • 2014 [01 January] - Bob Sundstrom

    PDF Report
    …We scanned the wet fields of the reserve more carefully now and turned up gorgeous, iridescent Northern Lapwings, numbers of Common Snipe, and a very unexpected twosome of Long-toed Stints. A Eurasian Curlew flew in, at close range. Both Tundra and Taiga bean-geese were scoped. All of this with a backdrop of thousands of majestic cranes. Not far away, we walked along riverside reed beds, where a small flock of Chinese Penduline-Tits showed nicely….
  • 2014 [02 February] - Charley Hesse

    PDF Report
    …Nowhere else can boast the immense Steller’s Sea-Eagle in such numbers, thousands of cranes of 4 species on their wintering grounds, Red crowned Cranes in a beautiful snowy backdrop and the enormous Blakiston’s Fish-Owl. We started our tour in the Japanese Alps of Nagano prefecture where we located some fantastic endemics and other rarities including Copper Pheasant, Long-billed Plover, Japanese Green Woodpecker and Japanese Accentor…
  • 2014 [02 February] - Phil Gregory & Jun Matsui

    Report
    …Karuizawa was very snowy, and we did not have any luck with Copper Pheasant or Long-tailed Rosefinch, but Japanese Green Woodpecker showed well and we had a bonus Solitary Snipe flush out of a streambed. The Snow Monkeys were a big hit, and we had Green Pheasant and Asian Azure-winged Magpie at the hide at Kahokugata….
  • 2014 [03 March] - Dave Farrow & Chikara Otani

    PDF Report
    …Also here were two Long-billed Plovers, Japanese Wagtails, Long-tailed Tits, more Japanese Pygmy Woodpeckers, Black-faced Buntings, Dusky Thrushes, a surprise Wryneck and a fine male Japanese Green Pheasant….
  • 2014 [12 December] - David Hoddinott - Dancing Cranes & Winter Birding

    PDF Report
    ...However ourinitial explorations along the network of trails produceda number of wanted species including the trickyJapanese Green Woodpecker, Eurasian Jay, Coal Tit,family groups of Long-tailed Tit, Eurasian Wren, cuteEurasian Nuthatch, our first of several Red-flanked Bluetail, fabulous Brown Dipper, elusive JapaneseAccentor, stunning Eurasian Bullfinch and both Long-tailed and the rare Pallas’s Rosefinch...
  • 2014 [12 December] - David Hoddinott - Ryukyu Islands Extension

    PDF Report
    ...Our good fortune continued as we enjoyeda remarkably great time at KinsakubaruForest where we obtained awesome views(see photo) of the highly prized Amami Woodcock, elusive Whistling Green Pigeon, several crackingRyukyu Scops Owls, lovely White-backed Woodpecker, Ryukyu Minivet, striking Varied Tit, JapaneseBush Warbler, reclusive Amami Thrush, low density Brown-headed Thrush and stunning RyukyuRobin (see photo above).Stopping along the...
  • 2015 [01 January] - Bob Sundstrom

    PDF Report
    ...The northern island of Hokkaido was also the winter home of legions of sea-eagles. As we drovethe eastern coast of the island and then out the Notsuke Peninsula, massive Steller’s Sea-Eagleswith enormous orange bills and white shoulders decorated the landscape: atop utility poles, onthe rocky buttress of the shoreline, standing on snow- and ice-covered ponds. Nearby too wereWhite-tailed Sea-Eagles, large eagles the size of Bald Eagles, but still a head shorter thanSteller’s....
  • 2015 [01 January] - Bob Sundstrom - Japan in Winter

    PDF Report
    ...At Arasaki on the island ofKyushu, we took in one of the grandest crane spectacles in the world: more than 13,000 Whitenapedand Hooded cranes congregating in fields and paddies. Tall, silvery White-naped Craneswith bold red faces standing head and shoulders above petite, elegant Hooded Cranes withcharcoal bodies, white necks, and red forecrowns.
  • 2015 [01 January] - Phil Gregory - Cranes & Sea Eagles

    Report
    ...We began as usual at Narita, where Brown-headed Thrush was near the Tobu Narita Hotel again, once more the only ones we saw; Falcated Duck there was unusual too, and the striking Japanese Wagtail made its first appearance. Karuizawa was as ever very snowy, and we did not have any luck with Long-tailed Rosefinch or Japanese Grosbeak here, but Japanese Green Woodpecker and Asian Azure-winged Magpie showed well, plus we had a flock of 5 Rustic Buntings at the shrine, and a bonus Eurasian Woodcock feeding and resting in a snowy streambed.
  • 2015 [02 February] - Charley Hesse - Birding on Ice

    PDF Report
    ...Of course we saw all the big Hokkaido draw cards of Blakinston’s Fish-Owl, Red-crowned Cranesdancing in the snow plus close encounters with dozens of Steller’s Sea Eagles on the ice flow, but we alsoenjoyed the thousands of cranes on their wintering grounds in the south.
  • 2015 [02 February] - Dave farrow

    PDF Report
    ... Visiting the three main islands, we began on Honshu where in the crispsnowy hills we saw five Copper Pheasant, swarms of Japanese Waxwings, Long-tailed Rosefinches andJapanese Accentors. We visited the Snow Monkeys of Nagano, and along the north coast we saw BaikalTeal, Tundra and Taiga Bean Geese, Rhinoceros Auklets, Grey-headed Lapwings and JapaneseCormorants.
  • 2015 [03 March] - Keith Barnes - Japan, Taiwan and SE China in Winter

    PDF Report
    ...We then shifted to Hokkaido, with the amazing spectacle of Red-crowned Cranes dancing their nuptial display in the snow. This was one of five crane species seen on the trip that also included 40-50 individual Siberian Cranes.
  • 2015 [03 March] - Peter Schmidt - Tokyo

    PDF Report
    ...Bird-wise it istransition to spring migration and although there is some movement, most wintering speciesincluding ducks appeared to be still lingering in good numbers and it is not until later in March earlylong-distance migrating passerines such as Barn Swallows etc. start to arrive.
  • 2015 [06 June] - Gerry Hinchon

    PDF Report
  • 2015 [07 July] - Petri Hottola - Karuizawa

    PDF Report
    I had a stop-over in Japan, between JAL flights from Manila, thePhilippines, to Los Angeles, the USA. The time was spent in search for a missing world list species,the Yellow Bunting. The chosen location was Karuizawa, in Nagano Prefecture, Central Honshu. Itraveled there straight after arrival in Narita, Tokyo, and returned to catch my cross-Pacific flightto California.
  • 2015 [07 July] - Robert Tuveson

    PDF Report
    All in all 130 species were recorded. Among the many high quality species thehighlights were Falcated Duck, Red-crowned Crane, Latham’s Snipe, SpectacledGuillemot, Tufted Puffin, Japanese Wood-Pigeon, Blakiston’s Fish-Owl, JapaneseWoodpecker, Varied Tit, Middendorff’s-, Pleske’s- and Gray’s Grasshopper-Warbler,Japanese-, Sakhalin- and Ijima’s Leaf Warbler, Japanese-, Brown-headed- and IzuThrush, Japanese Robin, Siberian Rubythroat, Japanese Accentor, JapaneseGrosbeak and Chestnut-eared-, Yellow- and Gray Bunting. Almost all of theimportant target species were seen, the exceptions being Copper Pheasant,Japanese Murrelet, Ashy Minivet and Japanese Paradise-Flycatcher.
  • 2016 [02 February] - Bob Sundstrom

    PDF Report
    ...Japan in winter also boasts one of the world’s finest selections of gorgeous waterfowl: suchbeauties as Smew, Baikal Teal, Falcated Duck, and Mandarin Duck among more than 20 speciesof ducks, plus concentrations of enormous Whooper Swans, some basking in the warmth ofsteaming thermal pools, and Taiga Bean-Geese. On Kyushu we had great studies of two globalrarities: Black-faced Spoonbill and Saunder’s Gull...
  • 2016 [02 February] - Charley Hesse

    PDF Report
    For the fourth year in a row, we beat our previous year’s trip list with an all-time record of 185 species.Every year, the Winter Japan tour is slightly different, and this year’s could be summed up by ‘balmyweather’ and rarities. We had an almost clean sweep of available targets; and by gathering valuable genfrom other birding groups and Japanese birders, we chased down some real MEGAs, like Siberian Crane,Swan Goose and Scaly-sided Merganser....
  • 2016 [02 February] - Dave Farrow

    PDF Report
    This year's winter tour to Japan was once again a truly wonderful trip around this enchanting country, with itsthrilling and spectacular avifauna. As always the host country was very hospitable, with delightful people andan exciting cuisine, all adding hugely to the enjoyment of the birding....
  • 2016 [02 February] - David Blair – Honshu, Kyushu and Hokkaido

    PDF Report
    Anyway birding was good with Dusky Thrusheseverywhere, plenty of Brown eared Bulbuls, thefirst male Daurian Redstart in the fields before on atrack down to the river we found Japanese BushWarbler, Eye-browed Thrush, Grey Bunting andEastern Great Tit before arriving at the river, therewere not many waders about but we did see 5Black-faced Spoonbills, a Saunders Gull andsingle Falcated Duck amongst dozens of Shoveler,Teal, Shelduck and just a couple of CommonSandpipers, Greenshank and Lapwing...
  • 2016 [02 February] - Mans Grundsten

    PDF Report
    ... During the day it was a bit windy early in the morning, then very calm for an hour (we had hundreds of auks (mostly Rhinoceros Auklets (Fig 52)) on the water then). At late afternoon the northwesternly wind picked upagain and we also sailed through a few blizzards. Crested Auklets only started to appear during the last hours aswe reached and passed northern Honshu...
  • 2016 [02 February] - Phil Gregory

    Report
    This was my twelfth winter Japan trip, and this year was blessed with reasonable to good weather (other than one wet day on Kyushu), whilst Hokkaido was gorgeous, with little snow, very little ice, and relatively mild temperatures. It seemed to be an odd year though, with quite a few species being scarce or absent; there were no Gray-headed Lapwings around, and we didn't see Daurian Jackdaw either. Jun Matsui was once more my co-leader and our driver, and we benefited greatly from his patience, local knowledge, and interpretive skills...
  • 2016 [02 February] - T Devaram - Hokkaido

    Report
    I picked up a single “Steller’s Sea Eagle” perched on a electricity pylon en route to the airport. After exchanging greetings, we set our GPS to Tsurui Ito Tancho Sanctuary. The 25km ride took more than 30 mins with the speed limit in Hokkaido is 50km...
  • 2016 [04 April] - Charley Hesse - Okinawa

    PDF Report
    ...Light-vented Bulbul, Blue Rock-Thrush, Brown-earedBulbul and even an Osprey soaring over the coast. We checked into our superbly located lodge in themountains, with Pacific Swallows nesting under roof. After dropping our bags in our room, we took ashort drive nearby. We stopped along the entrance road where there appeared to be some activity. Weheard the unmistakeable song of the Japanese Bush-Warbler, and located this common but skulkingbird straight away for good views. We also had Varied Tit and Ryukyu Minivet, before we lucked outwith one of the major targets of the area, the Okinawa Woodpecker...
  • 2016 [06 June] - Jeffrey H Skevington - Amami-Oshima & Okinawa

    PDF Report
    After three weeks working in Taiwan (JHS, ADY) and Japan (SB) we decided to takea birding holiday in Amami and Okinawa....
  • 2016 [12 December] - Anders B Nielsen

    PDF Report
    ...Beside the endemics of Miyakejima, the most remarkably sightings were Japanese Green Pheasantjust outside Tokyo and Japanese Wagtail and Japanese Grosbeak at the Kyoto Imperial Palace park.On Miyakejima, Izu Thrush, Japanese Robin and Winter Wren (dark form) were all seen around theinformation centre at Lake Tairo, while Japanese Woodpigeon was seen flying (never perched) overthe paths leading down to the lake and flying over road 212 before and after the lake. Here Owston'sTit was also seen twice perched on the wires. 3-4 Ijima's Warblers were still to be found, whilePleske's Warblers seem to have left....
  • 2017 [01 January] - Phil Gregory

    Report
    ...Japanese Woodpecker showed very well and was calling and drumming at Sendae, where we also found some distant Chinese Penduline Tits and Chestnut-eared Bunting for most. Crested Kingfisher and Long-billed Plover showed nicely on the Sendae River as we drove to Miike. Lake Miike was fog-shrouded and with dull showery conditions, but still gave us views of Yellow-throated Buntings and Ryukyu Minivet, whilst Japanese Woodpecker also showed very well and White-backed Woodpecker all too briefly, despite drumming loudly but out of sight for ages...
  • 2017 [02 February] - Craig Robson

    PDF Report
    ... Bugling hordes of wintering cranes at Arasaki, a multitude ofwintering waterfowl including 100s of Baikal Teal, dancing Red-crowned Cranes in snowy Hokkaido,hundreds of awesome Steller’s Sea and White-tailed Eagles on the pack-ice, and the incredible Blakiston’sFish Owl were just a few of the headlines on the main tour...
  • 2017 [02 February] - Garry Armstrong - Hokkaido & Honshu

    PDF Report
    ... There was no public feeding of the Cranes this year due to bird flu, howeverthere were still circa 200 Red-crowned Cranes present. Also present were two adultSteller’s Eagles, an adult White-tailed Eagle and 3 Black-eared Kites. There was also a RedFox, the first of many that we saw on Hokkaido. In and around the car park we hadJapanese Tit, Marsh Tits, a Nuthatch, Hawfinch, Siskin and Brown-eared Bulbul. We thenwent to the Tsurui area. About a mile north of the village we explored fields / fodder areasaround a farm. Tree Sparrows and a family of Red-crowned Cranes were the best we couldfind. South of the village on the way towards Kushiro, we had more Cranes and a flock ofWhooper Swans....
  • 2017 [02 February] - Glen Valentine - Ryukyu Islands

    PDF Report
    ...we were soon enjoying our first views of some of Japan’s fairly common and widespread species,like Brown-eared Bulbul, Grey-cappedGreenfinch, Bull-headed Shrike, Carrion andLarge-billed Crows, Japanese Tit, WhitecheekedStarling, White Wagtail and DuskyThrush. The river harboured familiarwaterfowl, such as Gadwall, Eurasian Wigeon,Eastern Spot-billed Duck, Northern Pintail,Eurasian Teal, Common Pochard, Tufted Duckand Greater Scaup, as well as Great CrestedGrebe, the cosmopolitan Black-crowned NightHeron, Great Cormorant in various stages ofplumage, Grey Heron, Black-headed, Mew andVega Gulls and Black-winged Stilt. Our first ofmany Western Osprey and Black Kite lingerednearby, while a fleeting Japanese Bush Warblerwas seen in the adjacent reedbeds....
  • 2017 [02 February] - Sue Bryan

    Report
    Most of my birding trips recently have involved new countries where many new world ticks have been available but sometimes there are iconic birds or mammals that I simply want to see. One of these birds was Steller’s Sea Eagle...
  • 2017 [03 March] - Glen Valentine

    PDF Report
    ...Our first full day on Hokkaido beganwith the most beautiful day imaginable.It was bright, sunny, still, crisp and clear.Absolutely stellar! Before departing ourhotel for the Red-crowned Cranegrounds a little further north, we decidedto have a quick look at the nearby riverand here we found several common andwidespread, but still enjoyable, new tripspecies such as Red-breasted andCommon Mergansers, Slaty-backed Gulland Common Golden-eye...
  • 2017 [06 June] - Dave Farrow

    PDF Report
    This year’s tour of Japan was once again a real delight, a wonderful island-hopping extravaganza around theJapanese archipelago. We were successful in finding all the target specialities of the highlands and islands,and in the mountain forests on the island of Honshu we saw Japanese Green Woodpecker, Rufous HawkCuckoo, a Ural Owl in the daytime, Japanese Accentor, Brown-headed and Japanese Thrushes, SiberianBlue Robin, Narcissus and Blue-and-white Flycatchers, Eastern Crowned, Sakhalin Leaf and Japanese LeafWarblers, Japanese Grosbeak, Japanese Yellow Bunting and Chestnut-eared Bunting.
  • 2017 [07 July] - Lasse Olsson

    PDF Report
    This was my first trip to Japan and together with my wife I spent 18 days away fromhome. Not entirely a birding holiday, we also had some sightseeing in Tokyo and Kyotoand visited a couple of magnificent gardens along the way. Initially we concentrated onthe northern parts of the country, with our first six days on Hokkaido (Kushiro – LakeFuren – Rausu – Tofutsu-ko – Lake Kussharo – Tomakomai), then a full day at theTomakomai – Oarai ferry and the rest of the trip we spent on the route Tokyo – Mt. Fuji –Kyoto – Karuizawa - Tokyo.
  • 2018 [01 January] - Steve Hilty

    PDF Report
    ...This is an unusual birding tour, one that blends, forwesterners, a unique cultural experience with a remarkable number of birding highlights—morethan might be imagined from our list of barely 150 species, and all of it in temperatures thathover around the freezing point. So bundle up in scarves and warm hats and gloves because asKaz, our guide, so aptly put on a couple of occasions, “this morning it will be bitterly cold.” Andon a few occasions it was, although temperatures generally were not extreme, and in the souththey were decidedly moderate, although not exactly balmy. ..
  • 2018 [02 February] - Eric Barnes

    PDF Report
    ...We picked up some refreshments at a convenience store at the station and headed towards the park. DuskyThrushes, Brown-eared Bulbuls and Oriental Turtle Dove all gave excellent views as we got to stretch our planewearylegs. The common birds fell like dominoes: the beautiful Bull-headed Shrike, White-cheeked Starling,Daurian Redstart, Pale Thrush, Eastern Buzzard, Black-faced Bunting, Azure-winged Magpie and Grey-cappedGreenfinch. ...
  • 2018 [02 February] - Nick Bonomo

    PDF Report
    ...We decided to hit what seem to be the top 3 Japanese birding islandsat this time of year, which are, from south to north: Kyushu, Honshu(Tokyo), and Hokkaido. Okinawa is also quite popular, but we didnot have time for that. As most international flights from the US gothrough Tokyo, we began and ended our trip on Honshu. In short,we went from Honshu to Kyushu to Hokkaido and back to Honshu. ...
  • 2018 [02 February] - Paul Stanbury & Duncan McNiven

    PDF Report
    ... We quickly met up with our delightful guide, Sono, and headed off for lunch at a small restaurant on a hill, complete with Eurasian Nuthatch, Marsh Tit and Brown-eared Bulbul onthe bird feeders outside...
  • 2018 [02 February] - Phil Gregory

    Report
    ...and a bird feeder that yielded Great Spotted Woodpecker, the strikingly pale amurensis race of Eurasian Nuthatch, Marsh Tit, and the distinctive brandtii race of Eurasian Jay. A Solitary Snipe also showed in the stream not long after we arrived, a much wanted bird. Some folks saw Blakiston's Fish-Owl at the fishing area outside, with great looks from the comfort of the lounge around 1800!
  • 2018 [03 Mar] - Matthew Kwan - Hokkaido, Japan

    Report
    Hokkaido is likely considered one of the top sites anywhere in Asia for winter birding, the number of species that you can find during the harsh winter months are surprising, with impressive species such as Steller’s Sea Eagles, Red-crowned Cranes and Blakiston’s Fish Owls...
  • 2018 [03 March] - Colin Reed

    Report
    ...Most of the way back was the same until we hit a minor bird wave of Eastern Great Tits, Marsh & Coal Tits, our one and only Japanese Green Woodpecker and our first Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker...
  • 2018 [03 March] - Colin Reid & Stuart Warren

    PDF Report
    ...We drove around getting our bearings, eventually arriving in the area described in all the trip reports, up the roadfrom Naka-Karuizawa. We found the ‘Bird sanctuary’ and went for a walk in the ice and snow up the trail past the,currently frozen, pond where kids were skating...
  • 2018 [03 March] - Erik Forsyth

    PDF Report
    ...while we searched various waterways, reedbeds and rice-fields included a confiding RuddybreastedCrake, Chinese Penduline Tit, Bull-headed Shrike, Common Reed, Chestnut-eared, Rustic andMeadow Buntings, Japanese and WhiteWagtails, White-cheeked and EurasianStarlings, and smart Russet Sparrows...
  • 2018 [03 March] - Julian Thomas

    Report
    ... I was surprised to see an adult Hooded Crane feed a snail to its offspring – one might have expected them to forage entirely independently by now. Searching through the two most numerous species revealed 4 Sandhill Cranes, which gave really close views, and a Common Crane, although it seemed slightly perverse to search for this species amongst vulnerable range restricted East Asian species I had never previously seen!
  • 2018 [03 March] - Oystein Storkersen

    PDF Report
    This is a report from a private trip with myself and my wife to Honshu and Hokkaido, withbirdwatching and photography as primary objectives. A huge thank you to those whoassisted us before and during this trip, notably Haruko Okusu, the Wild Bird Society of Japanand the Toki Forest Park center.
  • 2018 [06 June] - Okinawa

    Report
    Mostly photos....
  • Migration Report - Chinese Goshawk - Autumn 2008

    Report
    Observations
Other Links
  • ARRCN Asian Raptor Migration Webpage

    Website
    This web site is consisted by information of Asian raptor migration. Therfore, if you have some information on Asian raptor migration, please send me the data.We ask that the following raptor migration data be provided, at least.
  • Bird Songs in Japan

    Website
    Clickable links to birdsong
  • Bird observations in Ibaraki and the Kanto plain

    Information
    The Kanto plain consists of the prefectures Ibaraki, Saitama, Tochigi, Tokyo, Chiba, Gunma, Kanagawa. Sometimes Yamanishi is included as well. Covers period up to Spring 2000
  • Birds of Japan

    Website
    What's so great about a list of bird names? After all, the names that men give are just a pale reflection of the birds themselves. Well, bird-lovers may rejoice in biodiversity, but in matters linguistic they tend to use common or garden English as a lowest common denominator. So, in the interest of 'lingua-diversity', here it is: a list of bird species of Japan, with names in Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Russian, German, and French
  • Chinese Goshhawk Migration

    Webpage
  • Guide to Birdwatching in Japan

    Website
    Japan is an extremely challenging country for birdwatchers. Both its geographical features and six well-defined seasons provide for the viewing of various species of birds as well as diverse scenic beauty. In fact, many migrants visit Japan in each season: such as warblers and flycatchers in summer; ducks, buntings, and finches in winter; and shorebirds in spring and autumn. Residents including endemic species are abundant too.
  • Hawk Migration in Shinshu

    Website
    Hawk Migration Monitoring in Shinshu.
  • Seabirding of Japan

    Website
    In this web site, we would like to introduce seabirds of Japan as much as possible.
  • Stint Fan

    Website
    Cracking pictures… text largely in Japanese.
  • Teuri Island Seabird Information Centre

    Website
    Where to see Japanese seabirds
Blogs
  • Masa Miyamoto

    BLOG
    Birding BLOG with some superb photos from Hikkaido
  • Nobuhiro Hashimoto - Shore Birds in Japan

    BLOG
    Blog and many of photos shorebirds in japan
  • Stuart Price - Hakodate Birding

    BLOG
    My name is Stuart Price and I'm an amateur bird photographer based in Hakodate in the south of Hokkaido, Japan. I've been doing this blog since 2007 and have accumulated a fair amount of bird photos over the years. I've been using Canon gear for almost all the time although when I started I was struggling with a cheap compact camera and telecope, I got about 2 decent photos from 18 months digiscoping.
  • Tokyo Birder

    BLOG
    Birdwatching in Japan… a one year (2006) diary of a birder in Tokyo
Photographers & Artists
  • Artist - Rakusan Tsuchiya

    Gallery
    Rakusan Tsuchiya - Japanese Painter, Woodblock Print Artist, and Printer 1896 - 1976
  • Birdgraphic

    Gallery
    Weblog of Japanese bird photograph using DIGISCO photo system
  • Photographer - Dave Farrow

    Gallery
    Images from a 2004 visit
  • Photographer - Mike Danzenbaker

    Gallery
    Terrific pictures of Japanese birds
  • Photographer - Monte M & Christopher H Taylor

    Gallery
    There are two galleries of Japanese birds
  • Photographer - Russell Jenkins Stoop Files

    Gallery
    Photography of birds and nature in Japan and Australia
  • Photographer - Setsuko & Shimpei Watanabe

    Gallery
    Many images - some excellent

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