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NT
Razorbill Alca torda
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

IUCN Red List Criteria

Near Threatened (criteria nearly met) A4ab 

IUCN Red List history

Year Category
2015 Near Threatened
2012 Least Concern
2009 Least Concern
2008 Least Concern
2004 Least Concern
2000 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1994 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1988 Lower Risk/Least Concern

Species attributes

Migratory status full migrant Forest dependency Does not normally occur in forest
Land mass type   Average mass -

Distribution

  Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 1,230,000 medium
Number of locations -
Fragmentation -

Population & trend

  Estimate Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
No. of mature individuals poor Estimated 2009
Population trend Decreasing Estimated -
Number of subpopulations - - -
Largest subpopulation - - -
Generation length (yrs) 13.6 - - -
Population justification: The European population is estimated at 979,000-1,020,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015).
Trend justification: Although a number of populations are increasing within Europe, a recent sharp decline was observed in Iceland (where more than 60% of the European population is found) since 2005 (BirdLife International 2015). Two comprehensive surveys of the species in Iceland suggest that the population declined by 18% between 1983-1986 (Gardarsson 1995) and 2005-2009 (Gardarsson et al. in press) from 378,000 pairs to 313,000 pairs. However more frequent monitoring of a subset of colonies (every five years) between 1985 and 2005 suggests the population decline only started in 2005 and prior to this the population was stable, demonstrating that the decline has been much more rapid. Evidence of a very rapid decline in the Icelandic population is supported by data from the largest colony of this species in the world, Látrabjarg, which declined by 45% in only three years (160,000 pairs in 2006 to 89,000 pairs in 2009) (G. Gudmundsson in litt. 2015). The 2005 decline occurred around the same time that sandeel stocks crashed around Iceland, suggesting that a lack of food may have influenced the decline (Gardarsson et al. in press). As a result of the reported decline in Iceland, the estimated and projected rate of decline of the European population size over the period 2005-2046 (three generations) is 25-30%.

The population trend is increasing in North America (based on BBS/CBC data: Butcher and Niven 2007). Europe is thought to hold c. 95% of the global population, based on latest population estimates (Merne and Mitchell 2004, Berglund and Hentati-Sundberg 2014). Thus the European decline is of global significance.

Country/Territory distribution

Country/Territory Occurrence status Presence Breeding Non-breeding Passage Resident
Algeria Vagrant Extant        
Austria Vagrant Extant        
Belgium Native Extant   Yes    
Canada Native Extant       Yes
Croatia Vagrant Extant        
Czech Republic Vagrant Extant        
Denmark Native Extant     Yes Yes
Egypt Vagrant Extant        
Estonia Native Extant       Yes
Faroe Islands (to Denmark) Native Extant       Yes
Finland Native Extant     Yes Yes
France Native Extant     Yes Yes
Germany Native Extant       Yes
Gibraltar (to UK) Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Greenland (to Denmark) Native Extant       Yes
Hungary Vagrant Extant        
Iceland Native Extant       Yes
Ireland Native Extant       Yes
Italy Vagrant Extant   Yes    
Japan Vagrant Extant        
Latvia Native Extant   Yes    
Lithuania Native Extant   Yes    
Malta Vagrant Extant        
Mauritania Vagrant Extant        
Montenegro Vagrant Extant        
Morocco Native Extant        
Netherlands Native Extant   Yes    
Norway Native Extant Yes      
Poland Native Extant   Yes    
Portugal Native Extant   Yes    
Russia Native Extant Yes      
Russia (European) Native Extant Yes      
Serbia Vagrant Extant        
Slovenia Vagrant Extant        
Spain Native Extant   Yes    
St Pierre and Miquelon (to France) Native Extant     Yes Yes
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) Native Extant Yes      
Sweden Native Extant       Yes
Tunisia Vagrant Extant        
United Kingdom Native Extant       Yes
USA Native Extant Yes      

Important Bird Areas where this species has triggered the IBA criteria

Country/Territory IBA Name IBA link
Canada Baie de Brador site factsheet
Canada Bonaventure Island site factsheet
Canada Brandypot Islands site factsheet
Canada Cap d'Espoir site factsheet
Canada Corossol Island site factsheet
Canada Gannet Islands site factsheet
Canada Grand Manan Archipelago site factsheet
Canada Îles Pèlerins site factsheet
Canada Îles Sainte-Marie site factsheet
Canada Machias Seal Island site factsheet
Denmark Lille Middelgrund site factsheet
Denmark Northern Kattegat site factsheet
Denmark Skagerrak-Southwest Norwegian trench site factsheet
Estonia Irbe strait site factsheet
Finland Eckerö and Hammarland archipelago site factsheet
Finland Föglö southern archipelago site factsheet
Finland Itäinen Suomenlahti National Park site factsheet
Finland Korppoo and Nauvo southern archipelago site factsheet
Finland Lågskär-Nyhamn site factsheet
Finland Merenkurkku archipelago site factsheet
Finland Mulklobb site factsheet
Finland Pernaja outer archipelago site factsheet
Gibraltar (to UK) Strait of Gibraltar site factsheet
Greenland (to Denmark) Islands west and north-west of Simiuttat and south of Qilangarsuit site factsheet
Greenland (to Denmark) Kitsissut Avalliit (Ydre Kitsissut) site factsheet
Greenland (to Denmark) Sermilinnguaq site factsheet
Greenland (to Denmark) Søndre Isortoq site factsheet
Greenland (to Denmark) Taateraat in Evighedsfjorden site factsheet
Iceland Drangey site factsheet
Iceland Grímsey, Eyjafirdi site factsheet
Iceland Hornbjarg & Haelavikurbjarg site factsheet
Iceland Ingolfshofdi site factsheet
Iceland Krýsuvíkurberg site factsheet
Iceland Látrabjarg site factsheet
Iceland Skeidarársandur site factsheet
Iceland Skoruvik-Skalabjarg site factsheet
Iceland Vestmannaeyjar site factsheet
Ireland Bull and Cow Rocks site factsheet
Ireland Cliffs of Moher site factsheet
Ireland Horn Head cliffs site factsheet
Ireland Lambay Island site factsheet
Ireland Saltee Islands site factsheet
Lithuania Marine waters along the Curonian Spit site factsheet
Norway Gjesværstappan site factsheet
Norway Hjelmsøy site factsheet
Norway Lille Kamøya & Bondøya site factsheet
Norway Loppa site factsheet
Norway Nord-Fugløy site factsheet
Norway Nykvåg site factsheet
Norway Runde site factsheet
Norway Slettnes site factsheet
Norway Sør-Fugløy site factsheet
Norway Sværholtklubben site factsheet
Poland Central Polish coastal waters site factsheet
Poland East Border Waters site factsheet
Poland Pomeranian bay site factsheet
Russia (European) Ainov islands site factsheet
Russia (European) Onega Bay of the White Sea site factsheet
Russia (European) Seven islands site factsheet
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) Bjørnøya (Bear Island) site factsheet
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) Midterhuken & Eholmen site factsheet
Sweden Bay of Skälderviken site factsheet
Sweden Björn archipelago site factsheet
Sweden Bonden island site factsheet
Sweden Bråviken - Hävringe site factsheet
Sweden Gnäggen island site factsheet
Sweden Karlsö islands site factsheet
Sweden Little Middelgrund site factsheet
Sweden Outer Stockholm archipelago site factsheet
Sweden The Archipelago of Nothern Hälsingland site factsheet
United Kingdom Buchan Ness to Collieston Coast site factsheet
United Kingdom Caithness Cliffs site factsheet
United Kingdom Cape Wrath site factsheet
United Kingdom Fair Isle site factsheet
United Kingdom Firth of Forth Islands site factsheet
United Kingdom Flamborough Head and Bempton Cliffs site factsheet
United Kingdom Flannan Isles site factsheet
United Kingdom Foula site factsheet
United Kingdom Fowlsheugh site factsheet
United Kingdom Handa site factsheet
United Kingdom Mingulay and Berneray site factsheet
United Kingdom North Rona and Sula Sgeir site factsheet
United Kingdom Pembrokeshire Cliffs site factsheet
United Kingdom Rathlin Island site factsheet
United Kingdom Sanda Island site factsheet
United Kingdom Shiant Isles site factsheet
United Kingdom Skokholm and Skomer site factsheet
United Kingdom St Abbs Head to Fast Castle site factsheet
United Kingdom St Kilda site factsheet
United Kingdom Troup, Pennan and Lion Heads site factsheet

Habitats & altitude

Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Marine Coastal/Supratidal Sea Cliffs and Rocky Offshore Islands Major breeding
Marine Intertidal Rocky Shoreline Major breeding
Marine Intertidal Tidepools Major breeding
Marine Neritic Macroalgal/Kelp Major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Macroalgal/Kelp Major breeding
Marine Neritic Pelagic Suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Pelagic Suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Seagrass (Submerged) Major breeding
Marine Neritic Seagrass (Submerged) Major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Loose Rock/pebble/gravel Major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Loose Rock/pebble/gravel Major breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Rock and Rocky Reefs Major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Rock and Rocky Reefs Major breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy Major breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy Major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy-Mud Major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy-Mud Major breeding
Marine Oceanic Epipelagic (0-200m) Suitable non-breeding
Marine Oceanic Mesopelagic (200-1000m) Suitable non-breeding
Altitude 0 - 0 m Occasional altitudinal limits  

Threats & impact

Threat (level 1) Threat (level 2) Impact and Stresses
Biological resource use Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources / Unintentional effects: (large scale) [harvest] Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Declines Medium Impact: 6
Stresses
Indirect ecosystem effects
Biological resource use Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals / Intentional use (species is the target) Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Declines Low Impact: 5
Stresses
Species mortality
Climate change & severe weather Other impacts Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Unknown Unknown Unknown
Stresses
Indirect ecosystem effects, Ecosystem degradation
Climate change & severe weather Storms & flooding Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Unknown Unknown Unknown
Stresses
Indirect ecosystem effects, Species mortality
Climate change & severe weather Temperature extremes Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Unknown Unknown Unknown
Stresses
Reduced reproductive success, Species mortality
Energy production & mining Mining & quarrying Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Unknown Unknown
Stresses
Indirect ecosystem effects, Species disturbance
Energy production & mining Renewable energy Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Causing/Could cause fluctuations Low Impact: 5
Stresses
Indirect ecosystem effects, Species disturbance, Species mortality
Human intrusions & disturbance Recreational activities Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Unknown Unknown Unknown
Stresses
Species disturbance
Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases / American Mink (Neovison vison) Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Causing/Could cause fluctuations Medium Impact: 6
Stresses
Reduced reproductive success, Species mortality
Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases / Domestic Cat (Felis catus) Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Causing/Could cause fluctuations Medium Impact: 6
Stresses
Reduced reproductive success, Species mortality
Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases / Unspecified Rattus Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Causing/Could cause fluctuations Medium Impact: 6
Stresses
Reduced reproductive success, Species mortality
Pollution Industrial & military effluents / Oil spills Timing Scope Severity Impact
Past, Likely to Return Unknown Rapid Declines Past Impact
Stresses
Ecosystem degradation, Species mortality
Transportation & service corridors Shipping lanes Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) No decline Low Impact: 5
Stresses
Species disturbance

Utilisation

Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Food (human) Whole Adults and juveniles Wild Subsistence, National Non-trivial Recent
Food (human) Whole Eggs Wild Subsistence, National Non-trivial Historical
Pets Whole Adults and juveniles Wild International Non-trivial Recent
Food - human - - - Subsistence, National
Pets/display animals, horticulture - - - International

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Alca torda. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 27/07/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 27/07/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Alcidae (Auks)
Species name author Linnaeus, 1758
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 1,230,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Summary information on this species
- 2015 European Red List assessment