Birds Possible in Hokkaido in Winter

The entire winter period, from late October until early April is excellent for birding in Hokkaido. Although now known worldwide for its concentrations of wildlife in mid winter (especially February), that period, though spectacular, offers lower diversity than other times of year and at very much lower temperatures. More species can be seen during the early and late periods of the winter (October to December, and March and early April), when many birds are on the move through Hokkaido or around its coasts. The longer days and less severe weather are more conducive to spending long days in the field than during the mid-winter period, and these factors also facilitate finding more birds.

The actual species seen during any trip to Hokkaido will depend on: the month, the length of time spent in the field, the diversity of habitats visited, the regions of Hokkaido visited, and the weather. Some species are far more likely to be seen in one part of Hokkaido than another and this list is a composite covering three regions throughout the entire winter: the far north (Sarobetsu, Wakkanai and Cape Soya), the east (Akan, Shiretoko, Kushiro, Nemuro) and west central (Tokachi, Ishikari, Sapporo).

Species are given star rankings to indicate the likelihood of seeing them. These range from * to *****, with one star applying to species that are very likely to be seen and five stars to extreme rarities. Note that these rankings apply only to winter; for the same species different rankings may be relevant at other seasons. Columns are provided so that you may download and printout this checklist.

English Name

Scientific Name

Rank

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Hazel Grouse

Tetrastes bonasia

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taiga Bean Goose

Anser fabalis middendorffi

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tundra Bean Goose

Anser serrirostris

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greater White-fronted Goose

Anser albifrons

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lesser White-fronted Goose

Anser erythropus

****

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snow Goose

Anser caerulescens

****

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lesser Canada Goose

Branta hutchinsii

****

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brent Goose

Branta bernicla nigricans

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whooper Swan

Cygnus cygnus

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tundra (Bewick's) Swan

Cygnus columbianus bewickii

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gadwall

Anas strepera

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Falcated Duck

Anas falcata

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eurasian Wigeon

Anas penelope

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

American Wigeon

Anas americana

****

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mallard

Anas platyrhynchos

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eastern Spot-billed Duck

Anas zonorhyncha

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Northern Shoveler

Anas clypeata

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Northern Pintail

Anas acuta

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eurasian Teal

Anas crecca

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Green-winged Teal

Anas carolinensis

*****

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canvasback

Aythya valisineria

****

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Pochard

Aythya ferina

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tufted Duck

Aythya fuligula

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greater Scaup

Aythya marila

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steller's Eider

Polysticta stelleri

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harlequin Duck                            

Histrionicus histrionicus

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Surf Scoter

Melanitta perspicillata

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

White-winged Scoter

Melanitta deglandi stejnegeri

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black Scoter

Melanitta americana

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Long-tailed Duck

Clangula hyemalis

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bufflehead

Bucephala albeola

****

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Goldeneye

Bucephala clangula

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smew

Mergus albellus

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goosander (Common Merganser)

Mergus merganser

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red-breasted Merganser

Mergus serrator

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red-throated Diver

Gavia stellata

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black-throated Diver

Gavia arctica

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pacific Diver

Gavia pacifica

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

White-billed Diver

Gavia adamsii

*****

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Northern Fulmar

Fulmarus glacialis

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Short-tailed Shearwarer

Puffinus tenuirostris

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Grebe

Tachybaptus ruficollis

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red-necked Grebe

Podiceps grisegena     

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slavonian (Horned) Grebe

Podiceps auritus        

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black-necked (Eared) Grebe

Podiceps nigricollis       

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grey Heron

Ardea cinerea

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great White Egret

Casmerodius albus

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Cormorant

Phalacrocorax carbo

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Temminck's Cormorant

Phalacrocorax capillatus

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pelagic Cormorant

Phalacrocorax pelagicus

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red-faced Cormorant

Phalacrocorax urile

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eurasian Kestrel

Falco tinninculus

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Merlin

Falco columbarius

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gyr Falcon

Falco rusticolus

****

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peregrine Falcon

Falco peregrinus

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Osprey

Pandion haliaetus

****

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black-eared Kite

Milvus lineatus

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

White-tailed Sea Eagle

Haliaeetus albicilla

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steller's Sea Eagle

Haliaeetus pelagicus

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eastern Marsh Harrier

Circus spilonotus

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hen Harrier

Circus cyaneus

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eurasian Sparrowhawk

Accipiter nisus

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Northern Goshawk

Accipiter gentilis

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eastern Buzzard

Buteo japonicus

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rough-legged Buzzard

Buteo lagopus

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mountain Hawk Eagle

Nisaetus nipalensis orientalis

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Coot

Fulica atra

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red-crowned Crane

Grus japonensis

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Solitary Snipe

Gallinago solitaria

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruddy Turnstone

Arenaria interpres

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dunlin

Calidris alpina

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black-tailed Gull

Larus crassirostris

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Gull

Larus canus kamtschatschensis

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glaucous-winged Gull

Larus glaucescens

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glaucous Gull

Larus hyperboreus

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Iceland Gull

Larus glaucoides

*****

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vega Gull

Larus vegae

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slaty-backed Gull

Larus schistisagus

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black-headed Gull

Chroicocephalus ridibundus

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ross's Gull

Hydrocoloeus rosea

*****

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black-legged Kittiwake

Rissa tridactyla

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whiskered Tern

Chlidonias hybrida

****

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pomarine Skua

Stercorarius pomarinus

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brünnich's Guillemot

Uria lomvia

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Guillemot

Uria aalge

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pigeon Guillemot

Cepphus columba

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spectacled Guillemot

Cepphus carbo

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ancient Murrelet              

Synthliboramphus antiquus

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Least Auklet

Aethia pusilla

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crested Auklet

Aethia cristatella

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rhinoceros Auklet

Cerorhinca monocerata

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rock Dove

Columba livia

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oriental Turtle Dove

Streptopelia orientalis

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blakiston's Fish Owl

Bubo blakistoni

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ural Owl

Strix uralensis japonica

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Short-eared Owl

Asio flammeus

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Kingfisher

Alcedo atthis

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crested Kingfisher

Megaceryle lugubris

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker

Dendrocopos kizuki

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker  

Dryobates minor

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

White-backed Woodpecker 

Dendrocopos leucotos

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Spotted Woodpecker  

Dendrocopos major

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black Woodpecker

Dryocopos martius

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grey-headed Woodpecker

Picus canus jessoensis

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Grey Shrike

Lanius excubitor

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eurasian Jay

Garrulus glandarius brandtii

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spotted Nutcracker

Nucifraga caryocatactes

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carrion Crow

Corvus corone

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Large-billed Crow

Corvus macrorhynchos

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Northern Raven

Corvus corax

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bohemian Waxwing

Bombycilla garrulus

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Japanese Waxwing

Bombycilla japonica

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eastern Great Tit

Parus minor

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coal Tit

Periparus ater

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Varied Tit

Poecile varius

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marsh Tit

Poecile palustris

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Willow Tit

Poecile montanus

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barn Swallow

Hirundo rustica

****

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Long-tailed Tit

Aegithalos caudatus

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eurasian Skylark

Alauda arvensis

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brown-eared Bulbul

Hypsipetes amaurotis

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Japanese Bush Warbler

Cettia diphone

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goldcrest

Regulus regulus

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eurasian Wren

Troglodytes troglodytes

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eurasian Nuthatch

Sitta europaea

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eurasian Treecreeper

Certhia familiaris

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

White-cheeked Starling

Sturnus cineraceus

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brown-headed Thrush

Turdus chrysolaus

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dusky Thrush

Turdus naumanni

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red-flanked Bluetail

Luscinia cyanura

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brown Dipper

Cinclus pallasii

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eurasian Tree Sparrow

Passer montanus

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

White Wagtail

Motacilla alba

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Japanese Wagtail

Motacilla grandis

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buff-bellied Pipit

Anthus rubescens

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brambling

Fringilla montifringilla

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oriental Greenfinch

Carduelis sinica

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eurasian Siskin

Carduelis spinus

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Redpoll

Carduelis flammea

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arctic Redpoll

Carduelis hornemanni

****

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Asian Rosy Finch

Leucosticte arctoa

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Long-tailed Rosefinch

Uragus sibiricus

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pallas's Rosefinch

Carpodacus roseus

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pine Grosbeak

Pinicola enucleator

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Crossbill

Loxia curvirostra 

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eurasian Bullfinch

Pyrrhula pyrrhula griseiventris

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hawfinch

Coccothraustes coccothraustes

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rustic Bunting

Emberiza rustica

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grey Bunting

Emberiza variabilis

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Reed Bunting

Emberiza schoeniclus

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lapland Bunting

Calcarius lapponicus

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snow Bunting

Calcarius nivalis

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mammals Possible in Hokkaido in Winter

English Name

Scientific Name

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Red Fox

Vulpes vulpes

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Northern Fur Seal

Callorhinus ursinus

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steller's Sea Lion

Eumetopia jubata

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harbour Seal

Phoca vitulina

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Japanese Deer

Cervus nippon

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

Sites in east Hokkaido are described in detail in:  

Brazil, M. A. 1987.  A Birdwatcher's Guide to Japan. Kodansha International and the Wild Bird Society of Japan.      

The birds themselves are illustrated, described, and their status and distribution outlined in:

Wild Bird Society of Japan. 1982. A Field Guide to the Birds of Japan. Wild Bird Society of Japan; Tokyo.

Brazil, M. A. 1991.  The Birds of Japan.  Christopher Helm (A & C Black); London.

Brazil, M. A. 2009. Birds of East Asia. A&C Black; London.

© 2013 Mark Brazil

Last updated: 20130625