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.
Best place for Lidth's Jay and Amami Woodcock
For Blakiston's Fish-Owl, Red-crowned Crane and Steller's Sea-Eagle.
Ferry between Hokkaido and Honshu
For Black-faced Spoonbill and Saunder's Gull.
For White-naped, Hooded, Sandhill, Common and Siberian Cranes.
For summer migrants
For Seven Island Thrush, Styan's Grasshopper Warbler and Ijima's Warbler.
For Okinawa Rail, Pryer's Woodpecker and Ryukyu Robin.
Number of Species
Number of bird species: 619
(As at September 2018)
Number of bird species: National Bird
Green Pheasant Phasianus versicolor
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
Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web
A Birdwatcher's Guide to Japan
by Mark Brazil | Kodansha America | 1987 | Paperback | 220 pages, Maps |
ISBN: 0870118498Buy 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: 9781472913869Buy 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: 9781472947246Buy 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: 9780007429547Buy this book from NHBS.com
Japan Nature Guides
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.
Hawk Migration Network of Japan
Site in Japanese…
Japan Alcid Society
Includes a photogallery
Wild Bird Society of Japan
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.
BS Karuizawa Wild Bird Sanctuary
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Yonago Waterbirds Sanctuary Companion Circle is a citizens organization which supports the activities of the Yonago Waterbirds Sanctuary… [Japanese only]
NP Kushiro Marshland
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
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.
Japan currently has 50 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites), with a surface area of 148,002 hectares.
WII IBA Katano-kamoike Lake
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
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
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.
Wildlife Protection Areas in Japan
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. 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
Guides & Tour Operators
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.
… birding tours to japan. This site is for all those who wish to visit the islands of Japan, to see the wealth of birdlife there. We offer a range of birdwatching tours to observe the birding spectacles of this enigmatic country…
CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.
2008 [02 February] - Mark Finn
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
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
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
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
…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
…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
…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
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
…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
…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
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
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
…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
…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
…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
…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
...However our initial explorations along the network of trails produced a number of wanted species including the tricky Japanese Green Woodpecker, Eurasian Jay, Coal Tit, family groups of Long-tailed Tit, Eurasian Wren, cute Eurasian Nuthatch, our first of several Red-flanked Bluetail, fabulous Brown Dipper, elusive Japanese Accentor, stunning Eurasian Bullfinch and both Long-tailed and the rare Pallas’s Rosefinch...
2014 [12 December] - David Hoddinott - Ryukyu Islands Extension
...Our good fortune continued as we enjoyed a remarkably great time at Kinsakubaru Forest where we obtained awesome views (see photo) of the highly prized Amami Woodcock, elusive Whistling Green Pigeon, several cracking Ryukyu Scops Owls, lovely White-backed Woodpecker, Ryukyu Minivet, striking Varied Tit, Japanese Bush Warbler, reclusive Amami Thrush, low density Brown-headed Thrush and stunning Ryukyu Robin (see photo above). Stopping along the...
2015 [01 January] - Bob Sundstrom
...The northern island of Hokkaido was also the winter home of legions of sea-eagles. As we drove the eastern coast of the island and then out the Notsuke Peninsula, massive Steller’s Sea-Eagles with enormous orange bills and white shoulders decorated the landscape: atop utility poles, on the rocky buttress of the shoreline, standing on snow- and ice-covered ponds. Nearby too were White-tailed Sea-Eagles, large eagles the size of Bald Eagles, but still a head shorter than Steller’s....
2015 [01 January] - Bob Sundstrom - Japan in Winter
...At Arasaki on the island of Kyushu, we took in one of the grandest crane spectacles in the world: more than 13,000 Whitenaped and Hooded cranes congregating in fields and paddies. Tall, silvery White-naped Cranes with bold red faces standing head and shoulders above petite, elegant Hooded Cranes with charcoal bodies, white necks, and red forecrowns.
2015 [01 January] - Phil Gregory - Cranes & Sea Eagles
...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
...Of course we saw all the big Hokkaido draw cards of Blakinston’s Fish-Owl, Red-crowned Cranes dancing in the snow plus close encounters with dozens of Steller’s Sea Eagles on the ice flow, but we also enjoyed the thousands of cranes on their wintering grounds in the south.
2015 [02 February] - Dave farrow
... Visiting the three main islands, we began on Honshu where in the crisp snowy hills we saw five Copper Pheasant, swarms of Japanese Waxwings, Long-tailed Rosefinches and Japanese Accentors. We visited the Snow Monkeys of Nagano, and along the north coast we saw Baikal Teal, Tundra and Taiga Bean Geese, Rhinoceros Auklets, Grey-headed Lapwings and Japanese Cormorants.
2015 [03 March] - Keith Barnes - Japan, Taiwan and SE China in Winter
...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
...Bird-wise it is transition to spring migration and although there is some movement, most wintering species including ducks appeared to be still lingering in good numbers and it is not until later in March early long-distance migrating passerines such as Barn Swallows etc. start to arrive.
2015 [06 June] - Gerry Hinchon
2015 [07 July] - Petri Hottola - Karuizawa
I had a stop-over in Japan, between JAL flights from Manila, the Philippines, 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. I traveled there straight after arrival in Narita, Tokyo, and returned to catch my cross-Pacific flight to California.
2015 [07 July] - Robert Tuveson
All in all 130 species were recorded. Among the many high quality species the highlights were Falcated Duck, Red-crowned Crane, Latham’s Snipe, Spectacled Guillemot, Tufted Puffin, Japanese Wood-Pigeon, Blakiston’s Fish-Owl, Japanese Woodpecker, Varied Tit, Middendorff’s-, Pleske’s- and Gray’s Grasshopper-Warbler, Japanese-, Sakhalin- and Ijima’s Leaf Warbler, Japanese-, Brown-headed- and Izu Thrush, Japanese Robin, Siberian Rubythroat, Japanese Accentor, Japanese Grosbeak and Chestnut-eared-, Yellow- and Gray Bunting. Almost all of the important target species were seen, the exceptions being Copper Pheasant, Japanese Murrelet, Ashy Minivet and Japanese Paradise-Flycatcher.
2016 [02 February] - Bob Sundstrom
...Japan in winter also boasts one of the world’s finest selections of gorgeous waterfowl: such beauties as Smew, Baikal Teal, Falcated Duck, and Mandarin Duck among more than 20 species of ducks, plus concentrations of enormous Whooper Swans, some basking in the warmth of steaming thermal pools, and Taiga Bean-Geese. On Kyushu we had great studies of two global rarities: Black-faced Spoonbill and Saunder’s Gull...
2016 [02 February] - Charley Hesse
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 ‘balmy weather’ and rarities. We had an almost clean sweep of available targets; and by gathering valuable gen from 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
This year's winter tour to Japan was once again a truly wonderful trip around this enchanting country, with its thrilling and spectacular avifauna. As always the host country was very hospitable, with delightful people and an exciting cuisine, all adding hugely to the enjoyment of the birding....
2016 [02 February] - David Blair – Honshu, Kyushu and Hokkaido
Anyway birding was good with Dusky Thrushes everywhere, plenty of Brown eared Bulbuls, the first male Daurian Redstart in the fields before on a track down to the river we found Japanese Bush Warbler, Eye-browed Thrush, Grey Bunting and Eastern Great Tit before arriving at the river, there were not many waders about but we did see 5 Black-faced Spoonbills, a Saunders Gull and single Falcated Duck amongst dozens of Shoveler, Teal, Shelduck and just a couple of Common Sandpipers, Greenshank and Lapwing...
2016 [02 February] - Mans Grundsten
... 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 up again and we also sailed through a few blizzards. Crested Auklets only started to appear during the last hours as we reached and passed northern Honshu...
2016 [02 February] - Phil Gregory
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
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
...Light-vented Bulbul, Blue Rock-Thrush, Brown-eared Bulbul and even an Osprey soaring over the coast. We checked into our superbly located lodge in the mountains, with Pacific Swallows nesting under roof. After dropping our bags in our room, we took a short drive nearby. We stopped along the entrance road where there appeared to be some activity. We heard the unmistakeable song of the Japanese Bush-Warbler, and located this common but skulking bird straight away for good views. We also had Varied Tit and Ryukyu Minivet, before we lucked out with one of the major targets of the area, the Okinawa Woodpecker...
2016 [06 June] - Jeffrey H Skevington - Amami-Oshima & Okinawa
After three weeks working in Taiwan (JHS, ADY) and Japan (SB) we decided to take a birding holiday in Amami and Okinawa....
2016 [12 December] - Anders B Nielsen
...Beside the endemics of Miyakejima, the most remarkably sightings were Japanese Green Pheasant just 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 the information centre at Lake Tairo, while Japanese Woodpigeon was seen flying (never perched) over the paths leading down to the lake and flying over road 212 before and after the lake. Here Owston's Tit was also seen twice perched on the wires. 3-4 Ijima's Warblers were still to be found, while Pleske's Warblers seem to have left....
2017 [01 January] - Phil Gregory
...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
... Bugling hordes of wintering cranes at Arasaki, a multitude of wintering 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’s Fish Owl were just a few of the headlines on the main tour...
2017 [02 February] - Garry Armstrong - Hokkaido & Honshu
... There was no public feeding of the Cranes this year due to bird flu, however there were still circa 200 Red-crowned Cranes present. Also present were two adult Steller’s Eagles, an adult White-tailed Eagle and 3 Black-eared Kites. There was also a Red Fox, the first of many that we saw on Hokkaido. In and around the car park we had Japanese Tit, Marsh Tits, a Nuthatch, Hawfinch, Siskin and Brown-eared Bulbul. We then went to the Tsurui area. About a mile north of the village we explored fields / fodder areas around a farm. Tree Sparrows and a family of Red-crowned Cranes were the best we could find. South of the village on the way towards Kushiro, we had more Cranes and a flock of Whooper Swans....
2017 [02 February] - Glen Valentine - Ryukyu Islands
...we were soon enjoying our first views of some of Japan’s fairly common and widespread species, like Brown-eared Bulbul, Grey-capped Greenfinch, Bull-headed Shrike, Carrion and Large-billed Crows, Japanese Tit, Whitecheeked Starling, White Wagtail and Dusky Thrush. The river harboured familiar waterfowl, such as Gadwall, Eurasian Wigeon, Eastern Spot-billed Duck, Northern Pintail, Eurasian Teal, Common Pochard, Tufted Duck and Greater Scaup, as well as Great Crested Grebe, the cosmopolitan Black-crowned Night Heron, Great Cormorant in various stages of plumage, Grey Heron, Black-headed, Mew and Vega Gulls and Black-winged Stilt. Our first of many Western Osprey and Black Kite lingered nearby, while a fleeting Japanese Bush Warbler was seen in the adjacent reedbeds....
2017 [02 February] - Sue Bryan
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
...Our first full day on Hokkaido began with the most beautiful day imaginable. It was bright, sunny, still, crisp and clear. Absolutely stellar! Before departing our hotel for the Red-crowned Crane grounds a little further north, we decided to have a quick look at the nearby river and here we found several common and widespread, but still enjoyable, new trip species such as Red-breasted and Common Mergansers, Slaty-backed Gull and Common Golden-eye...
2017 [06 June] - Dave Farrow
This year’s tour of Japan was once again a real delight, a wonderful island-hopping extravaganza around the Japanese 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 Hawk Cuckoo, a Ural Owl in the daytime, Japanese Accentor, Brown-headed and Japanese Thrushes, Siberian Blue Robin, Narcissus and Blue-and-white Flycatchers, Eastern Crowned, Sakhalin Leaf and Japanese Leaf Warblers, Japanese Grosbeak, Japanese Yellow Bunting and Chestnut-eared Bunting.
2017 [07 July] - Lasse Olsson
This was my first trip to Japan and together with my wife I spent 18 days away from home. Not entirely a birding holiday, we also had some sightseeing in Tokyo and Kyoto and visited a couple of magnificent gardens along the way. Initially we concentrated on the northern parts of the country, with our first six days on Hokkaido (Kushiro – Lake Furen – Rausu – Tofutsu-ko – Lake Kussharo – Tomakomai), then a full day at the Tomakomai – Oarai ferry and the rest of the trip we spent on the route Tokyo – Mt. Fuji – Kyoto – Karuizawa - Tokyo.
2018 [01 January] - Steve Hilty
...This is an unusual birding tour, one that blends, for westerners, a unique cultural experience with a remarkable number of birding highlights—more than might be imagined from our list of barely 150 species, and all of it in temperatures that hover around the freezing point. So bundle up in scarves and warm hats and gloves because as Kaz, our guide, so aptly put on a couple of occasions, “this morning it will be bitterly cold.” And on a few occasions it was, although temperatures generally were not extreme, and in the south they were decidedly moderate, although not exactly balmy. ..
2018 [02 February] - Eric Barnes
...We picked up some refreshments at a convenience store at the station and headed towards the park. Dusky Thrushes, Brown-eared Bulbuls and Oriental Turtle Dove all gave excellent views as we got to stretch our planeweary legs. 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-capped Greenfinch. ...
2018 [02 February] - Nick Bonomo
...We decided to hit what seem to be the top 3 Japanese birding islands at this time of year, which are, from south to north: Kyushu, Honshu (Tokyo), and Hokkaido. Okinawa is also quite popular, but we did not have time for that. As most international flights from the US go through 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
... 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 on the bird feeders outside...
2018 [02 February] - Phil Gregory
...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 March] - Colin Reed
...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
...We drove around getting our bearings, eventually arriving in the area described in all the trip reports, up the road from 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
...while we searched various waterways, reedbeds and rice-fields included a confiding Ruddybreasted Crake, Chinese Penduline Tit, Bull-headed Shrike, Common Reed, Chestnut-eared, Rustic and Meadow Buntings, Japanese and White Wagtails, White-cheeked and Eurasian Starlings, and smart Russet Sparrows...
2018 [03 March] - Julian Thomas
... 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
This is a report from a private trip with myself and my wife to Honshu and Hokkaido, with birdwatching and photography as primary objectives. A huge thank you to those who assisted us before and during this trip, notably Haruko Okusu, the Wild Bird Society of Japan and the Toki Forest Park center.
2018 [06 June] - Okinawa
Migration Report - Chinese Goshawk - Autumn 2008
Yatsu Higata Nature Observation Center
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)
Abiko City Museum of Birds
Harmony among Birds and People…
Birding BLOG with some superb photos from Hikkaido
Nobuhiro Hashimoto - Shore Birds in Japan
Blog and many of photos shorebirds in japan
Stuart Price - Hakodate Birding
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.
Birdwatching in Japan… a one year (2006) diary of a birder in Tokyo
ARRCN Asian Raptor Migration Webpage
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 observations in Ibaraki and the Kanto plain
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
Bird Songs in Japan
Clickable links to birdsong…
Birds of Japan
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
Guide to Birdwatching in Japan
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
Hawk Migration Monitoring in Shinshu.
Seabirding of Japan
In this web site, we would like to introduce seabirds of Japan as much as possible.
Cracking pictures… text largely in Japanese.
Teuri Island Seabird Information Centre
Where to see Japanese seabirds…
Photographers & Artists
Artist - Rakusan Tsuchiya
Rakusan Tsuchiya - Japanese Painter, Woodblock Print Artist, and Printer 1896 - 1976
Weblog of Japanese bird photograph using DIGISCO photo system…
Photographer - Dave Farrow
Images from a 2004 visit
Photographer - Mike Danzenbaker
Terrific pictures of Japanese birds
Photographer - Monte M & Christopher H Taylor
There are two galleries of Japanese birds…
Photographer - Russell Jenkins Stoop Files
Photography of birds and nature in Japan and Australia…
Photographer - Setsuko & Shimpei Watanabe
Many images - some excellent…