The red-crowned crane is one of many species of animals and plants that
inhabit Hokkaido. Here are some of the species.
white-tailed sea eagle
About 150 pairs breed in forests near water in eastern and northern Hokkaido.
In addition to the residents, more than 500 individuals winter in Hokkaido.
The wild iris found commonly in wetlands and margins of pastures in Hokkaido.
This is the same species of wild iris found in arctic, subarctic, and cool
temperate regions of North America, Siberia, China, and the Korean Peninsula.
It flowers in June and July.
The largest freshwater fish in Japan. It grows to more than 1 m long. Due
to loss of habitats, the population size of this species has been decreasing.
Asian skunk cabbage
One of the first plants to flower in wetlands in spring. It is related
to the western skunk cabbage in the western USA, which is known for its
unpleasant smell. However, the Asian skunk cabbage does not have an unpleasant
IUCN lists this species as endangered. This species breeds mostly in south-eastern
Russia and Hokkaido. It nests in hollows on large trees and hunts fish,
frogs, and small mammals along rivers, streams and coasts. Indigenous people
of Hokkaido (the Ainu) call this species the god that protects villages.
This is a relict species that has colonized the Kushiro wetland from continental
Asia more than 10000 years ago. This species can survive deep freezing
of its body during winter.
It is the largest terrestrial mammal in Hokkaido. Brown bears are not endangered,
but sightings are not common in most parts of Hokkaido. The indigenous
people (the Ainu) call this species the god of mountains.
Commonly found in wetlands in eastern Hokkaido. This species is also distributed
across northern Eurasia. It forms impenetrable thickets in drier parts
of wetlands. This species flowers in mid- to late summer.
Related to the meadowsweet and dropwort in Europe and queen-of-the-forest
and queen-of-the-prairie in North America. This species tends to grow in
the margins of swamp woodlands. The flowerhead is made of many tiny intricate
flowers and is stunningly beautiful.
Steller‘s sea eagle
IUCN lists this species as vulnerable. It breeds in Russian far east, and more than 1000 individuals winter in Hokkaido each year.
In recent years, the population size of sika deer in Hokkaido has exploded,
and it is not uncommon to see sika deer in wetlands or forests, especially
This species can be seen in the same habitats as the cranes from November
to early May. In fall and spring, one may see a flock of more than 1000
diving bell spider
This is another example of a relict species that colonized the Kushiro
wetland more than 10000 years ago. It is one of a few species of spiders
that completes its entire life cycle under water.
This species occurs in Hokkaido and south-eastern Russia. Of over 250 species
of monkshood, this species is said to have the strongest toxin. The indigenous
people (the Ainu) used the toxin extracted from roots of this plant when
hunting brown bears. It flowers in late summer.
The red fox is the most visible of mammalian predators. It is not uncommon
to spot a fox or two while driving in the countryside. This species is
one of main predators of red-crowned cranes in Hokkaido.
The wild stock of the iris commonly cultivated throughout Japan. It is
abundant in some wetlands in eastern Hokkaido. This species flowers from
late June to early August.
This pigeon-sized snipe breeds in the Russian far east and northern Japan
and winters in eastern Australia. At least some individuals fly non-stop
between their breeding and wintering grounds.
The best time to see this attractive damselfly is from late June to mid-August.
This species occurs in eastern Hokkaido and Siberia.
New growth in early spring is highly sought after as a wild vegetable in
Japan. Each local resident has his or her own secret patch, and its location
is not revealed even to family members.
This subspecies of Jacob‘s-ladder is found only in eastern Hokkaido. It
flowers briefly in early summer, and the chance to see these delicate blue
flowers is easily missed.
In Hokkaido, the cotton grass is found only in boggy wetlands. Mass flowering
occurs once every several years.
Endemic to Hokkaido, this species feeds on invertebrates and small vertebrates,
including other individuals of the same species. Unlike the Siberian salamander,
this species needs to hibernate in deep water or soil to avoid freezing
of its body.
This sparrow-sized songbird breeds in Hokkaido and eastern Russia and winters
in Southeast Asia. It is found in open habitats with some thickets.
They are common in areas where wooded hills meet pastures. Undersides of
the wings are almost black. They look like a different species when the
wings are shut.
This pigeon-sized seabird breeds in northern Japan and eastern Russia.
The population size in Japan has decreased dramatically in recent decades.
It is ubuquitus in shallow and still water bodies. Seeds have four hard
spikes but are eaten by the bean goose. People in Eurasia have also used
the seed for food and medicine.
This beautiful dragonfly belongs to a group known as whitefaces. This particular
species occurs in Siberia and in the vicinity of the Kushiro wetland.
Tussocks are often found in the understory of semi-open wooded wetlands
but are sometimes seen in open wetlands.
- Ministry of the Environment (Japan), ed. 2014. Red Data Book 2014 -Threatened Wildlife of Japan- Volume 2, Aves (in Japanese with English summary). GYOSEI Corporation, Tokyo.