Atlantic Puffin Fratercula arctica ©Lisa De Leon Website

Newfoundland and Labrador (abbreviated as NL) is the easternmost province of Canada, in the country’s Atlantic region. The province comprises the island of Newfoundland and the continental region of Labrador, having a total size of over 405,000 km2 (c.156,000 square miles). It has a roughly triangular shape. Each side is about 400 km (250 miles) long. The Strait of Belle Isle separates the province into two geographical parts: Labrador, connected to mainland Canada, and Newfoundland, an island in the Atlantic Ocean. The province also includes over 7,000 tiny islands. It has a population of just over 540,000 people. The island of Newfoundland (and its smaller neighbouring islands) is home to around 94 per cent of the province’s population, with more than half residing in the Avalon Peninsula. Labrador shares a land border with both the province of Quebec and, at its most extreme northern tip, the territory of Nunavut on Killiniq Island. The French overseas collectivity of Saint Pierre and Miquelon lies about 20 km (12 miles) west of the Burin Peninsula. The Long Range Mountains on Newfoundland’s west coast are the northeasternmost extension of the Appalachian Mountains.

St. John’s, the capital and largest city of Newfoundland and Labrador, is home to about 40% of the province’s population. St. John’s is the seat of the House of Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador as well as the province’s highest court, the Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal.

©Michel Rathwell CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Newfoundland, in broad terms, has a cool summer subtype, with a humid continental climate attributable to its proximity to water as no part of the island is more than 100 km (62 miles) from the Atlantic Ocean. However, Northern Labrador is classified as a polar tundra climate, and southern Labrador has a subarctic climate.  The province contains a range of climates and weather patterns, including frequent combinations of high winds, snow, rain, and fog, conditions that regularly made travel by road, air, or ferry challenging or impossible.

Birding Newfoundland & Labrador

Newfoundland is the world’s sixteenth largest island at a latitude south of Paris, France. The arctic waters of the Labrador Current that flows along its northern shore dominate the climate. In the southern areas the warmer water of the Gulf Stream has more influence and winters can be surprisingly mild. At the confluence of the two currents over the Grand Banks of Newfoundland fog is common. The mineral rich waters support abundant marine life and a large varied population of marine birds.

Around 40 million seabirds visit the plankton rich waters of Newfoundland every year. During the winter months the ice-free waters of the Newfoundland South Coast provide over-wintering habitat for millions of arctic birds. In spring these populations migrate north to their breeding sites and are replaced by millions of birds that have over-wintered offshore on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. They are soon joined by migrants from southern latitudes and, in the case of the Arctic Terns, from the southern hemisphere. By May these millions of birds are busily engaged in breeding and nesting in hundreds of sites along the coast.

Just about every small island and cliff face has a colony of nesting birds. The most important have been given Ecological Reserve status. Newfoundland is also home to the largest population of Bald Eagles in Eastern North America.

Top Sites
  • Cape St. Mary's Ecological Reserve

    WebpageSatellite View
    Cape St. Mary's Ecological Reserve is a wonderland for birdwatchers and explorers alike. Thousands of gulls, razorbills, common murres, black-legged kittiwakes, northern gannets, and double-crested and great cormorants nest here. Where 20,000 scoters, long-tailed ducks, harlequin, dovekies, thick-billed murres, and kittiwakes winter. This captivating area is one of seven protected seabird ecological reserves. Its natural beauty makes it perfect for nature walks and family adventures.
  • Witless Bay Ecological Reserve

    WebpageSatellite View
    The Witless Bay Ecological Reserve contains four islands-Gull, Green, Great, and Pee Pee-that teem with bird life during the seabird breeding season.
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 427

    (As at May 2024)

    Provincial Bird - Atlantic Puffin Fraterculus arctica

  • Avibase - Newfoundland

    PDF Checklist
    This checklist includes all bird species found in Newfoundland , based on the best information available at this time. It is based on a wide variety of sources that I collated over many years. I am pleased to offer these checklists as a service to birdwatchers. If you find any error, please do not hesitate to report them.
  • Avibase - Newfoundland & Labrador

    PDF Checklist
    This checklist includes all bird species found in Newfoundland and Labrador , based on the best information available at this time. It is based on a wide variety of sources that I collated over many years. I am pleased to offer these checklists as a service to birdwatchers. If you find any error, please do not hesitate to report them.
  • Nature Newfoundland & Labrador - Insular Newfoundland

    PDF Checklist
    This new Checklist of the Birds of Insular Newfoundland and its waters within 200 nautical miles of land or otherwise-agreed political borders has been updated to March 2016. This follows the last update in 2003. A total of 399 species have been accepted for inclusion by the Bird Records Committee. Nomenclature and taxonomy is in accordance with the American Ornithologists' Union Checklist of North American Birds (2015) 7th edition, 56th supplement. Please see Volume 47, Issue 1 of The Osprey - the quarterly magazine of Nature NL - for a complete summary of changes made to the checklist.
  • Salmonier Nature Park

    This checklist, produced in 1995, lists wild bird species that have been encountered in the park over the previous twenty years. Please use the occurrence designation to determine the likelihood of seeing a particular species here during your visit.
  • Wikipedia

    Annotated List
    This is a list of bird species confirmed in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The Bird Records Committee of Nature Newfoundland & Labrador (Nature NL) lists 427 species as occurring in Newfoundland as of 2021. Twenty additional species were added from Bird Checklists of the World (Avibase). Of the 427 species, 114 are rare, 71 are very rare, and 27 are "rare/accidental" as defined below.
Useful Reading

  • Birding in Atlantic Canada: Newfoundland

    | By R Burrows | Jesperson Press | 1989 | Paperback | 175 pages, B/w illustrations, maps | Out of Print | ISBN: 9780920502914 Buy this book from
  • Birds of Newfoundland

    | By Ian Warkentin, Sandy Newton, Roger Tory Peterson, John A Crosby & Ralph Jarvis | Boulder Publications | 2009 | Paperback | 237 pages, 32 plates with colour illustrations; colour illustrations, 1 colour map | ISBN: 9780980914429 Buy this book from
  • Newfoundland & Labrador Birds

    | (A Folding Pocket Guide to Familiar Species) | by James R Kavanagh | Waterford Press | 2019 | Unbound | 12 pages, 140 colour illustrations, 2 colour maps | ISBN: 9781620053652 Buy this book from
  • Newfoundland Birds: Exploitation, Study, Conservation

    | By William A Montevecchi & Leslie M. Tuck | Nuttall Ornithological Club | 1987 | Hardback | 273 pages, 40 b/w illustrations and b/w maps, 23 tables | ISBN: 9789997639998 Buy this book from
  • Nature Newfoundland & Labrador

    The Natural History Society is a province-wide organization with a primary interest in promoting the enjoyment and protection of all wildlife and natural history resources in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador and surrounding waters. At the moment, the Society has chapters, centered at Comer Brook and St. John's and we are affiliated with the Canadian Nature Federation.

Abbreviations Key

  • ER Baccalieu Island Seabird Sanctuary

    WebpageSatellite View
    Baccalieu Island Seabird Ecological Reserve contains Baccalieu Island located off the tip of the north west Avalon Peninsula near the town of Bay de Verde…
  • ER Cape St Mary's Seabird Sanctuary

    WebpageSatellite View
    Cape St. Mary's is a seabird sanctuary with the largest nesting colony of gannets in Newfoundland and the third largest in North America. Also, there are Black-legged Kittiwakes, Atlantic Murres, and Northern Razorbills. There are interpreters on duty to assist any of your needs. The vantage point overlooks magnificent sea stacks and offers an opportunity to photograph the seabirds…
  • ER Funk Island

    InformationSatellite View
    There are two large rock bunkers which lie off the southwest side of the island. The two bunkers are washed over by the sea, and provide roosting but not nesting areas for many of the seabirds, particularly the gannets. The island and the bunkers make up what is known as the "Funks."
  • ER Gannet Islands

    InformationSatellite View
    The reserve is home to the largest razorbill colony in North America and the third largest breeding colony of Atlantic puffins.
  • ER Witless Bay

    WebpageSatellite View
    Thousands of seabirds soaring, nesting, feeding … a cacophony of sound, crashing waves, refreshing ocean breezes, and spectacular scenery … all this and more is yours to experience at Witless Bay Seabird Ecological Reserve…
  • List of protected areas of Newfoundland and Labrador

    InformationSatellite View
    This is a list of protected areas of Newfoundland and Labrador.
  • NP Gros Morne

    WebpageSatellite View
    This park, which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, is an area of great natural beauty with a rich variety of scenery, widlife, and recreational activities. Visitors can hike through wild, uninhabited mountains and camp by the sea. Boat tours bring visitors under the towering cliffs of a freshwater fjord carved out by glaciers. Waterfalls, marine inlets, sea stacks, sandy beaches, and colourful nearby fishing villages complete the phenomenal natural and cultural surroundings of Gros Morne National Park of Canada.
  • NP Mealy Mountains

    WebpageSatellite View
    Once established, it will be the largest national park in eastern Canada. It is inhabited by a variety of wildlife, including the threatened Mealy Mountains woodland caribou herd. Other mammals that inhabit this park reserve are wolf packs, black bear, marten and two species of fox.
  • NP Terra Nova

    WebpageSatellite View
    Inland areas consist of rolling forested hills, exposed rock faces, and bogs, ponds and wetlands. Wildlife protected by the park range from small to large land mammals, migratory birds, and various marine life.
  • NP Torngat Mountains

    WebpageSatellite View
    This park protects wildlife (caribou, black bears, wolf packs, two species of fox, polar bears, peregrine falcon, and golden eagle among others).
  • WRv Avalon

    WebpageSatellite View
    The Reserve is located in the centre of the eastern section of the Avalon Peninsula. Its northern boundary is approximately 50 kilometres south of St. John's…
Sightings, News & Forums
  • ABA Rare Birds Newfoundland

    The ABA Rare Bird Alert’s Weekly Highlights
  • Bird Lovers of Newfoundland

    This group was created to bring together bird lovers who live in Newfoundland, however, all are welcome!
  • Birds of Newfoundland and Labrador

  • eBird

    The report below shows observations of rare birds in Newfoundland and Labrador. Includes both unreviewed and reviewed/approved observations.
  • nf birds

    Forum, Sightings, News etc.
    Google Group
Guides & Tour Operators
  • Avocet Tours

    Tour Operator
    Join us on this week long tour of Southeastern Newfoundland, where we spend several days on the Avalon Peninsula...
  • Bird the Rock

    Tour Operator
    Bird⋅The⋅Rock provides a wide range of custom bird & nature tours in Newfoundland. Unique tours and itineraries can be designed to meet a range of needs
  • Eagle-Eye Tours

    Tour Operator
    Our Newfoundland birding tour offers a remarkable diversity of spectacular scenery unlike anywhere else in North America.
  • Fieldguides

    Tour Operator
    Newfoundland & Nova Scotia - Boreal specialties, seabird colonies & numerous breeding landbirds in the beautiful Canadian Maritimes
  • Iceberg Quest

    Tour Operator
    Newfoundland and Labrador offers some of the best seabird watching on the Atlantic ocean. Our province is home to dozens of seabirds and 95% of the worlds breeding pairs of Atlantic Puffin. Other common species include gannets, shearwaters, and murres
  • Nature Travel Birding

    Tour Operator
    Imagine 35 million Seabirds!!! Atlantic Puffin, Razorbill, Northern Gannet, Think-billed Murre, Black-legged Kittiwake, Black Guillemot, Whales, Caribou and Moose. Welcome to Newfoundland.
  • PIB

    Tour Operator
    A July birding trip to Newfoundland is the prime time to see large numbers of nesting seabirds, such as Northern Gannet, Black-legged Kittiwake, Common Murre, and, a favorite of most birders, Atlantic Puffin.
  • The Cape Shore Tours

    Tour Operator
    Cape St Mary's, Baccalieu Island, and Witless Bay Seabird Ecological Reserves Nature and History Tour
  • Tropical Birding

    Tour Operator
    En route stops at Arnold’s Cove and Come by Chance might yield Common Loon, Common Tern, or Fox Sparrow, and we’ll continue north towards Bonavista after eating lunch in Clarenville. Reaching that destination, we’ll visit Spiller’s Cove, Dungeons Provincial Park, and the beautifully Bonavista Lighthouse where clients will feel like they’re on the edge of the world! From there it will be over to the featured attraction: the Atlantic Puffin colony at Elliston. While we’ll see many more puffins on our Whitless Bay boat trip, Elliston’s cliffs offer excellent opportunities to photograph the adorable birds. Depending on lighting and enthusiasm, we could even return to the site after dinner. Night in Bonavista.

    Tour Operator
    Newfoundland may seem like an unlikely winter birding locale but in fact it’s brilliant...
  • Wildland Tours

    Tour Operator
    Travel with Wildland Tours, and let our experienced local hosts introduce you to England
Trip Reports
  • 2015 [07 July] - Chris Benesh - Newfoundland & Nova Scotia

    The 2015 Newfoundland & Nova Scotia got off to a bit of rocky start with summer showers making us keep rain jackets and umbrellas close at hand. Yet, despite that, we had a terrific boat trip out into Witless Bay where we witnessed one of nature's greatest spectacles. The many thousands of murres, puffins, razorbills, and kittiwakes swarming around Gull Island comprise a sight that leaves one speechless. And it was a terrific start to our adventure.
  • 2016 [07 July] - Chris Benesh & Doug Gochfeld - Newfoundland & Nova Scotia

    ...We started out by birding around picturesque St. John’s for the first morning, going to the top of Signal Hill for a bird's eye view of the harbor and a taste of the landscape we would enjoy for the next 10 days. We made a couple of productive birding stops as we made our way down to Cape Spear (the easternmost point in Canada), seeing our first Pine Grosbeaks and the endemic Type 8 Red Crossbill. From Cape Spear, we headed south towards Bay Bulls, and one of the main highlights of the trip, the boat trip to the Witless Bay Ecological Preserve. As we got out to offshore waters, we encountered fog, though the growing numbers of alcids, a Sooty Shearwater, and views of at least one Humpback Whale buoyed everyone’s mood as we approached the breeding islands through the mist....
  • 2017 [07 July] - Chris Benesh - Newfoundland & Nova Scotia

    Summer in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia: seafood, puffins, gorgeous vistas, breeding warblers, and, of course, lots of gannets… this tour had it all! Chris and I were happy to share the above perks with a fun bunch of birders for another successful tour of a few of Canada’s finest Atlantic provinces.
  • 2018 [07 July] - Chris Benesh

    Our adventure began in scenic St. John's, a city with a rich history of aviation and certainly an important port. There we visited Cape Spear (and its fog), Signal Hill which towered over the bay, and Kents Pond which hosted a stray from Europe, a drake Tufted Duck! Farther south, a boat trip out to Gull Island and Green Island was great for seabirds including puffins, fulmars, a wealth of murres, and Razorbills.
  • 2018 [07 July] - Greg Smith

    PDF Report
    For those inclined, we started the morning with a stroll along the waterfront, with bird action relatively minimal. Black-backed and Herring Gulls, a few Double-crested Cormorant, American Black Duck, and Blue Jay were regulars, while American Crows ate pizza along the esplanade.
  • 2018 [08 August] - Greg Smith

    PDF Report
    Annotated List
  • 2022 [06 June] - Eagle-Eye Tours

    Our itinerary was to bird St. John’s and surrounding area, Witless Bay Ecological Reserve, Southeast Avalon Peninsula, Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve, Terra Nova National Park, Central Newfoundland, and Gros Morne National Park.
  • 2023 [06 June] - Eagle-Eye Tours

    Although the newest province to be added to Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador is filled with an incredible history of the earliest of North American explorers. Its geography and history make it not only an incredible place to see birds, but also a unique location to experience birds.
Places to Stay
  • Burgeo Haven B&B

    Burgeo Haven is a Historic home of former Fish Merchants, situated on the waterfront in a quiet fishing community of Burgeo
  • White Sails Inn & Cottages

    The Eastport Peninsula is a haven for birdwatchers. Of the 378 Species that have been recorded in Newfoundland, many are found locally. Owls, Bald Eagles and a wide variety of Boreal Forest Birds. Occasionally, rare birds such as the Eurasian Oystercatcher, and the Common Redshank have been sighted on the Peninsula
Other Links
  • Birds of Newfoundland and Labrador

    The province of Newfoundland and Labrador consists of the island of Newfoundland, mainland Labrador and over seven thousand small islands. The province’s total area is 405,720 square kilometres…
  • Newfoundland and Labrador Birdwatching

    With over 350 species of birds, there's no question Newfoundland and Labrador is a major destination for birdwatching. Whether it's by land or sea, you can get up close and personal to millions of seabirds, rare birds, and birds of prey. Between the boat tours and kayaking tours, the ecological reserves and the many hiking trails, there's a bird around every turn
  • Alvan Buckley - Birding With Alvan

    Following the passage of migration in the far Northeast - Alvan Buckley has been birding in the provinces of Newfoundland, Ontario and Quebec in Canada since 2008…
  • Bruce Mactavish - Newfoundland Birding Blog

    Bruce Mactavish has been an avid birdwatcher in Newfoundland since 1976…
  • Dave Brown - Birding Newfoundland

    An account of birding in Newfoundland. Updated daily with sightings, trip reports and various other topics related to birds and birding in Newfoundland…
  • Jared Clarke - Bird The Rock

    I was leading an Eagle-Eye Tours trip in Ontario (Point Pelee, Rondeau, Long Point & Algonquin) when I first heard the news … a brilliant adult PURPLE GALLINULE was discovered roaming on the Waterford River in St. John’s – just minutes from my house!!
  • Lisa De Leon - Birding

    Articles, images and gateway to information about birding in Newfoundland….

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