Short-tailed Albatross
(Phoebastria albatrus)


Picture of bird
© James Lloyd - License
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

The majority of Short-tailed Albatrosses nest on one volcanic Japanese island. The species ranges throughout most of the North Pacific, including off the coast of British Columbia, where they are likely a year-round visitor. Once very common visitors to the British Columbia coast, the slaughter of birds for the feather trade reduced the population to a few individuals. By 1949, the species was thought to be extinct but it persisted, thanks to ~50 immature birds being at sea during the final harvests. Since then, the global population has rebounded to over 6,870 individuals and the species continues to recover at ~8.5% per year (P. Sievert, University of Massachusetts, pers. comm.). Though data are insufficient to determine any change in the population observed in Canadian waters relative to 1970, numbers are thought to have increased over the last 10 years. The species was re-assessed as Threatened by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada due to its small population size (COSEWIC 2013g). It was listed under the Species at Risk Act in 2005. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.


Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
COSEWIC (Canada)Threatened2013 
SARA (Canada)Threatened2005 
IUCN (Global)Vulnerable2018 
Partners in Flight (North America)Watch list - yellow R2017 
Wild Species (Canada)Critically imperiled2015 
State of North America’s BirdsWatch list2016 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaData DeficientData DeficientBelow Acceptable Level

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada< 100 birds occurring seasonally

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Seasonal visitor

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population
CanadaVery Low

Conservation and management

Currently, the primary threats to Short-tailed Albatrosses in Canadian waters and beyond include incidental mortalities in commercial fisheries, bioaccumulation of contaminants, exposure to marine oil spills, and ingestion of plastics and other marine contaminants (COSEWIC 2013g). With their wide-ranging oceanic distribution and the potential for a single natural or human-induced catastrophe to affect nearly the entire breeding population, the successful recovery of this species requires coordinated international conservation. One such example is the establishment of a third breeding colony through the translocation of hand-reared chicks (Deguchi et al. 2016). A multi-species action plan (including the Short-tailed Albatross) has been developed for Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve (Parks Canada Agency 2016a). For information on the legal status of this species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) and to view available recovery documents, see the SARA Registry.


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Northern Pacific RainforestNorthern Pacific Rainforest, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon -- Other