Atlantic Puffin Fratercula arctica ©Lisa De Leon Website
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 have 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 is another Ecological Reserve on the southern Avalon Peninsula; it has a spectacular population of nesting Gannets plus a variety of other species.
  • Witless Bay Ecological Reserve

    WebpageSatellite View
    The Witless Bay Ecological Reserve near St. John's comprises three islands: Great, Gull and Green. This reserve contains the largest Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica) colony in North America. Green Island contains North America's second largest colony of common murres.
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 405

    Of which, 112 are rare and 79 are very rare as defined below. Two were introduced to North America. One species is possibly extinct.

    Provincial Bird - Atlantic Puffin Fraterculus arctica


  • Checklist of the Birds of Newfoundland

    This checklist contains all of the 404 species currently recorded on the island of Newfoundland. For some of the rarest species, click to get record details.
Useful Reading

  • Birding in Atlantic Canada: Newfoundland

    | By R Burrows | Jesperson Press | 1989 | Paperback | 175 pages, B/w illustrations, maps | 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

    WebsiteSatellite 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

    InformationSatellite 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

    InformationSatellite 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

    InformationSatellite 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…
Forums & Mailing Lists
Guides & Tour Operators
  • Fieldguides

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

    Tour Operator
    I'm 32 and recently spend nearly all of my time, birding, photographing birds or reading about and studying birds online. I'm currently working as a professional bird guide, based out of St. John's. Contact me via email to organize a private or group day trip. I offer a selection of day trips around St .John's and the Avalon Peninsula. My primary focus in the winter months are gulls and seabirds, although, my trips are customizable to suit your needs…
  • 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
  • Linkum Tours

    Tour Operator
    Of all the wonderful places to go bird-watching in Newfoundland and Labrador, the Codroy Valley tops the list for the number of different species and for rarities and unusual birds. The diverse lush and fertile habitats of the Codroy River Valley provide shelter, feeding, staging and nesting grounds for a wealth of waterfowl, waders and warblers as well as many other species. Breeding, migrant, vagrant and wintering surprises await your discovery during every day and season of the year…
  • The Cape Shore Tours

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

    Tour Operator
    Newfoundland & Nova Scotia with Kim Eckert & Marshall Iliff July 7 - July 17, 2004
  • Wildland Tours

    Tour Operator
    Travel with Wildland Tours, and let our experienced local hosts introduce you to England
Trip Reports

Click on WAND to see Fatbirder’s Trip Report Repository…

  • 2012 [07 July] - Chris Benesh - Newfoundland & Nova Scotia

    …The stretch of the Glen Elg-Waternish road we covered was also quite enjoyable, complete with some stunning Evening Grosbeaks. Finally, on our way to Halifax, we made a final stop to pick up the Acadian subspecies of Nelson's Sparrow. A great way to wrap up our visit to northeastern Canada…
  • 2013 [07 July] - Chris Benesh & Lena Senko - Newfoundland & Nova Scotia

    Report PDF
    …Newfoundland’s plankton-rich waters attract around 40 million seabirds each year, and in the summer, almost every small island and cliff face is populated by a colony of ocean-loving nesters. Our first taste of seabird spectacles came on a boat tour in Witless Bay. The swarms of Atlantic Puffins, Common Murres, Razorbills, and Black-legged Kittiwakes flying to and from their island nests by the thousands sent our heads spinning. We were able to pick out a few Thick-billed Murres and Northern Fulmars on their nests, while enjoying close looks at several Humpback and Minke Whales. Later, at Cape St. Mary’s, we gawked at the spectacular sight of 50,000+ nesting Northern Gannets…
  • 2013 [07 July] - Robert Tuveson - Newfoundland & Nova Scotia

    Report PDF
    …Being keen ABA-twitchers we wanted to go there in the summertime for a load of speciality birds, i.e. breeding species like Roseate Tern, Black-headed Gull and Bicknell’s Thrush, alcids like Razorbill, Black Guillemot and Atlantic Puffin and seabirds like Great- and Manx Shearwater and Wilson’s- and Leach’s Storm- Petrel…
  • 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
Places to Stay

Click on WAND to see Fatbirder’s Trip Report Repository…

  • 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…
  • Brad Brendan - Newfoundland Nature Projects

    Photography, hiking, conservation, wildlife... Last updated June 2015
  • 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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