New Brunswick, although one of Canada's smallest provinces (73,000 square kilometres); is remarkably diverse. From the contrasting coastlines of the Bay of Fundy and the Gulf of St. Lawrence, it rises to 820m Mount Carleton in the northern highlands. The human population is concentrated near the sea and the major rivers that drain the picturesque rolling landscape. More than 400 species have been found in the province. (See my website for a full list)
Most visiting birders come to this province for marine species, including pelagics off Grand Manan, and inshore seabirds and shorebirds at many points along the coast. Island seabird colonies are most numerous in the western Bay of Fundy, with a few in Miramichi Bay and Baie des Chaleurs. Salt-water lagoons and sandy beaches are found mainly along the eastern coast, whereas the Fundy shore is more rugged and rocky with very large tides that expose an extensive tidal zone. Salt marshes (Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow is the characteristic nesting bird) are found mainly near river mouths, especially at the head of the Bay of Fundy and along the eastern coast.
New Brunswick is 90 per cent forestland. In most areas the forest is a mixture of coniferous and deciduous trees but conifers dominate in the cooler climates of the northern uplands and along the Fundy coast, and deciduous woods are found on many well-drained hilltops and slopes and along river flood plains. A good variety of warblers and other birds nest in these forests. Species of boreal distribution, mainly in the highland areas, are of particular interest to birders from warmer climates.
There are numerous lakes and rivers. Freshwater marshes occur mainly along the lower Saint John Valley and in lowlands near the coast. Man-made impounded marshes attract a wide variety of water birds. Open bogs, most common along the north-eastern coast, are less diverse. Towns, villages and farmlands contribute to the variety of bird species that may be seen.
The best time to visit is from late May to mid-July for breeding species, and the last week in July to mid-September for shorebird migration. From mid April through May offers the best of spring migration, late August to mid-October is best for autumn movements. In winter the best birding is generally for ducks and seabirds in the outer Bay of Fundy but some years incursions of northern finches or birds of prey may be of interest in other areas. Most of the northern and eastern coast is frozen by early January.
Grand Manan Island
Grand Manan Island is the main birding destination in New Brunswick. Of special interest there are seabirds (Common Eider, Black Guillemot, Double-crested Cormorant, gulls) that nest on several smaller surrounding islands and islets, and the Arctic Tern, Atlantic Puffin, Razorbill and Common Murre found only on Machias Seal Island or the Murr Ledges. From mid-summer through fall thousands of pelagic birds (shearwaters, storm-petrels, Northern Gannet, Black-legged Kittiwake, jaegers, phalaropes, alcids) gather to feed in the rich turbulent waters offshore. Some of these may be seen from the ferry that serves the island from Blacks Harbour on the New Brunswick mainland but better opportunities likely can be had from a seabird or whale-watching boat tour. For details of Grand Manan Island see the website. Grand Manan itself has a nice variety of breeding songbirds, and during migration it can offer both abundance and diversity of migrating land birds. It is well known for frequent occurrence of rare vagrants during migration. Closer to the mainland, the waters around Campobello and Deer Islands in Passamaquoddy Bay also offer a variety of seabirds year round. During late summer and fall, gulls gather in abundance to feed in the strong currents of the passages between these islands.
Inland, the wetlands of the Jemseg area, east of Fredericton, the provincial capital, are well known for the ducks and geese that pause there during high water levels in spring. Many ducks and rails nest in the area but are mostly retiring and difficult to see.
Low-lying Miscou Island, and the shores of the Acadian Peninsula, the northeastern tip of New Brunswick, offer extensive beach, bog and estuary habitat good for gulls, terns, and shorebirds, including breeding Piping Plovers. Noteworthy concentrations of songbirds occur during fall migration.
New Brunswick Parks
New Brunswick's three main parks, Fundy National Park, Kouchibouguac National Park, and Mount Carleton Provincial Park, each have excellent trail systems that give great opportunities to observe the breeding birds of forest habitats. Remote Mount Carleton (50km NE of Plaster Rock) has the strongest representation of boreal species. Bicknell's Thrush is a specialty in that area. Besides forest and bogs, Kouchibouguac has a coastal system of estuaries, sand beaches and dunes that have breeding Common Tern, Osprey and Piping Plover and autumn migrant shorebirds. Fundy is also on the coast, not far from the late summer concentrations of small shorebirds at Marys Point and the impounded marshes of Shepody National Wildlife Area.
The Restigouche estuary upriver from Dalhousie is an important staging ground for tens of thousands of Black Scoters during their migration in late April and the first half of May. Open water near a power plant just east of Dalhousie attracts a few hundred over-wintering Barrow's Goldeneyes.
The town of Sackville, is situated adjacent the open fields, pastures and wetlands of the Tantramar Marsh. The boardwalks and trails of the town`s Waterfowl Park and Tantramar Wetlands Centre offer excellent viewing of ducks and other marsh birds. Sackville is a short drive from the shorebird concentrations of the Dorchester Cape - Johnsons Mills area on Shepody Bay.
Albert County, New Brunswick, Canada
Number of Species
Number of bird species: 400
Provincial Bird - Black-capped Chickadee Parus atricapillus
The North American Bird Guide
David Sibley.Hardcover (21 September, 2000) PICA PRESS
ISBN: 1873403984Buy this book from NHBS.com
Taped telephone alerts are the Moncton Naturalists Club Nature Information Line (506-384-6397); and the French language La Ligne Buse (506-532-2873); both located in the southeastern corner of the province. Internet circulation of information is via the NatureNB mailing list (below).
New Brunswick Bird Clubs
The provincial organization of bird watchers is the New Brunswick Federation of Naturalists Federation des naturalistes du Nouveau-Brunswick which represents a number of local clubs.
Guides & Tour Operators
Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…
Island Coast Boat Tours
We incorporate pelagic birding into our tours, whether they be Whale Watching or Coastal Sightseeing excursions. Passengers are given the opportunity to view such species as eider ducks, wilson & storm petrels, greater & sooty shearwaters, razorbills, arctic terns, gannets and the colorful atlantic puffin to name a few…
New Brunswick Bird Watching and Birding Adventures
List of those offering wildlife viewing…
Sea Watch Tours
Machais Seal Island is located in the lower Bay of Fundy, approximately ten miles west of Grand Manan Island. The island is barely a mile long at low tide, and a few hundred feet wide. A lighthouse is located there and in the non-nesting season the only occupants on the island are the two lighthouse keepers. The lighthouse has been maintained by the Canadian Coast Guard for over 100 years…
A Week on Grand Manan Island: Birds and Whales…
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.
2012 [09 September] - Barry Zimmer
…Heading in, we were rejoicing in the memories of the day’s great birds, mammals, weather, and sea conditions, when Brennan spotted a lone Razorbill on the water. This North Atlantic specialty was the one bird that had basically eluded us for the day (we had a few quick fly-bys only), and now one was showing off just minutes away from our return to the docks. This was arguably one of the greatest boat trips ever!…
2013 [09 September] - Barry Zimmer
…In all we tallied 22 species of warblers (and an estimated 244 individuals), which included rarities such as Black-throated Blue and Prairie, and regular stunners like Blackburnian, Black-throated Green (a total of 69 individuals estimated), Chestnut-sided, Northern Parula, and more. Other passerine highlights included 7 Philadelphia Vireos, 8 Blue-headed Vireos, and 61 Red-eyed Vireos….
2014 [09 September] - Barry Zimmer - Grand Manan
...Virtually all contained chickadees and nuthatches with a mix of warblers, vireos, and flycatchers thrown in. In all, we tallied 16 species of warblers, including the likes of Blackburnian, Cape May, Prairie (rare here), Chestnutsided, Northern Parula, Black-throated Green (a total of 68 seen), Ovenbird, and more. Alder Flycatcher; Philadelphia, Blue-headed, and Red-eyed vireos; Bobolink; and Baltimore Oriole were some of the other more noteworthy migrants...
2015 [09 September] - Barry Zimmer - Grand Manan
... A stunning adult Pomarine Jaeger joined the party and sailed with us for over ten minutes. A Sooty Shearwater cruised by, as did a few Northern Gannets. Flock after flock of Red Phalaropes dotted the ocean’s surface. A Northern Fulmar (one of 9 for the day) was spotted in the wake, and it quickly landed right next to us, only to be followed by a Lesser Black-backed Gull.
2016 [09 September] - Barry Zimmer - Grand Manan
...After obtaining superb views of the whales and the Manx Shearwater, we got back on our course and quickly started seeing groups of Red Phalaropes and scattered Wilson’s Storm-Petrels. A few Atlantic Puffins buzzed by, and soon we had some of these adorable birds on the water right next to the boat...
Places to Stay
Owen House - B&B
The Owen House is a large historic colonial inn on a headland overlooking Passamaquoddy Bay. The old house still has much of its origional construction and furniture, and quilts and fireplaces which add warmth and charm. We are famous for our breakfasts and beautiful location.
Association des Naturalistes de la Baie de Bouctouche
Notre club veut promouvoir l'appréciation de la nature dans le comté de Kent et dans le sud-est du Nouveau-Brunswick au Canada…
Club de Naturalistes de la Péninsule Acadienne
Fondé le 1er octobre 1986, le Club de naturalistes de la Péninsule acadienne (CNPA) est un organisme sans but lucratif qui regroupe une centaine de membres habitant entre Neguac et Pokeshaw, en passant par l'île Miscou. Les objectifs du Club sont: l'étude et l'appréciation de la nature, la communication entre les naturalistes et la promotion des mesures de conservation du milieu naturel auprès de la population. Le CNPA est affilié à la Fédération des naturalistes du Nouveau-Brunswick…
Kennebecasis Naturalist Society
The society, which was started over 20 years ago, holds regular field trips, in various parts of southern New Brunswick, to encourage members and friends to view and experience the wonders of nature…
Nature Trust of New Brunswick
The Nature Trust of New Brunswick (Inc.1987) is a charitable land trust dedicated to preserving nature for the benefit of present and future generations of New Brunswick citizens.
Nature New Brunswick
Established in 1972, Nature NB is a non-profit, charitable organization whose mission is to celebrate, conserve and protect New Brunswick's natural heritage through education, networking and collaboration…
New Brunswick Birds Records Committee - Comité des mentions d`oiseaux du Nouveau-Brunswick
The New Brunswick Bird Records Committee was formed to ensure that adequate information is preserved about unusual occurrences of birds in New Brunswick, to provide a process for formal acceptance of bird species to the provincial list, and generally to advance knowledge of birds in New Brunswick. The committee consists of five voting members, who are experienced birders, and a representative of the New Brunswick Museum, the repository for the bird documentation.
Restigouche Naturalists Club
Restigouche Naturalists Club, c/o Mike Lushington, 214 Rosebery Street, Campbellton, NB E3N 2H5
Fundy Bird Observatory
Brian Dalzell, a local naturalist, has been the driving force behind the establishment of a bird observatory on Grand Manan. He began banding migrating land birds in 1995 from the Grand Manan Archipelago and established the Grand Manan Bird Observatory to accomplish this goal…
Gaskin Museum of Marine Life
The GMWSRS fully agreed with the principals of the Grand Manan Bird Observatory (GMBO) and had been acting in an administrative function until it was decided to dissolve the GMBO and create the Fundy Bird Observatory (FBO) as a project of the GMWSRS. The FBO, if successful, will become another link in the long term monitoring of bird populations. A fund raising effort began in the winter of 1999 to interest enough people in supporting the costs of a spring and fall migration monitoring program. With the generous support of donors both seasons were achieved and a newsletter has been published.
Campobello Island is another good birding spot in the Quoddy Region. The Roosevelt-Campobello International Park contains most of the same nesting warblers as Quoddy Head State Park with higher numbers of Cape May, Mourning, Palm, Bay-breasted, and Tennessee Warblers plus Northern Waterthrush. Boreal Chickadee, Gray Jay, and Black-backed Woodpecker nest here. The park road which passes behind the Campobello Island Information Center has most of the boreal nesting species in fairly high densities. A Bicknells Thrush responded to playbacks along the road to Fox Farm in 1993.
Cape Jourimain National Wildlife Area
Welcome to the Cape Jourimain Nature Centre. The Centre is located in a 675 hectare National Wildlife Area, and has been developed in cooperation with the Canadian Wildlife Service. Cape Jourimain was designated a National Wildlife Area to conserve important wildlife habitat.
Grand Manan Whale & Seabird Research Station
Grand Manan is a paradise for bird-watchers. Puffins and Arctic terns, marsh-dwelling cranes and heron, magnificent eagles and peregrine falcons -- the island boasts hundreds of species. The outer island of greatest importance to bird-watchers is Machias Seal Island, 19 kilometres (12mi.) off Southern Head. This lonely outcropping is a nesting ground for a variety of marine birds. Arctic terns, Leachs petrels and common puffins spend the nesting season here before heading out to sea where they spend the remainder of the year. The Machias Seal Island sanctuary is carefully supervised by both Americans and Canadians. During July, boats from Seal Cove, Grand Manan, will take bird-watchers for a memorable visit.
Irving Nature Park
Welcome to the Irving Nature Park located in Saint John, New Brunswick along the Bay of Fundy coastline. Some of the park's natural charms are its long sandy beaches and well-groomed woodlands, great for back packing and hiking. Over 20 kilometers of nature trails clearly marked for ease of access. Here you can enjoy bird watching, from a vast variety like: Cormorants, the Black-Capped Chickadee (New Brunswick's provincial bird), Tree Swallows, Loons, Great Blue Herons, Sandpipers, Geese, Black Ducks and many more. Over 250 species have been recorded in this area alone…
Kouchibouguac National Park
Kouchibouguac National Park lies in the New Brunswick lowlands, part of the physiographic region classified as the Maritime Plain. Sloping gently to the coast, the land is generally flat, relived by some small knolls separating river basins and short, steep river basins and short, steep river banks in spots…
Mary's Point Serabird Reserve
Although only a small part of Shepody National Wildlife Area, Mary's Point is unique for several reasons. Situated on the upper Bay of Fundy, it lies on the migratory route of many species of birds. But why does this location have one of the biggest concentrations of shorebirds on the North American coast?
Mount Carleton Provincial Park
According to Deichmann (1970), over 100 species of birds have been recorded in the park. Some of the more common species are the tree swallow, the robin, the hermit thrush, the evening grosbeak, and the white-throated sparrow…
New Brunswick Nature Trust - List of Reserves
The bay is important for the large numbers of shorebirds using the site. Along with Mary's Point, the Shepody Bay site hosts the largest numbers of Semipalmated Sandpiper Calidris pusilla with maximum numbers at roosting sites occasionally exceeding 400,000 birds…
Photographers & Artists
Artist - Lars Larsen
Lars Larsen, wildlife artist (painter) at Studio on the Marsh
Artist - Steven Smith - Birds of Crocker Hill
Lured by a botanical banquet, birds pause for their portraits in the lush riverside gardens that surround Gail and Steve Smith`s Crocker Hill Studios in New Brunswick, Canada. Ruby-throated hummingbirds whir in the bee balm, and, as the mists lift off the St. Croix River in the morning, you might see a family of bald eagles soaring in search of breakfast. Bit by bit, the birds influenced both our planting and my painting, says Steve.