To some, we’re known as the oldest city in North America. But to experienced bird watchers, we’re the ultimate urban basecamp for the seabird capital of North America. Newfoundland has 311 known seabird breeding colonies, and one of the highest concentrations of bald eagles in North America. So you might want to bring your binoculars.

1 The Suncor Energy Fluvarium - image

The Suncor Energy Fluvarium

Year-round, St. John’s

Enjoy more than a bird’s-eye view of waterfowl, gulls, and European vagrants from the Fluvarium. This public centre for environmental education is located in Pippy Park alongside Rennie’s River. Surrounded by walking trails and overlooking Long Pond, the Fluvarium is a natural gathering place for experienced bird watchers from fall to late spring.

Species to spot: American black duck, green-winged teal, northern pintail, and Wilson’s snipe in summer.

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2 Witless Bay Ecological Reserve - image

Witless Bay Ecological Reserve

Spring-fall (check with boat tour operators)
30 minutes from St. John’s

Take a boat tour to Witless Bay Ecological Reserve’s four protected islands. An important seabird breeding area from early June to early September, the islands have the largest Atlantic puffin colony in North America (260,000 pairs), and the second largest Leach’s storm-petrel colony in the world (620,000 pairs).

Species to spot: Nesting species include Atlantic puffin, Leach’s storm-petrel, common murre, razorbill, black guillemot, black-legged kittiwake, herring gull, great black-backed gull, and in smaller numbers, northern fulmar and thick-billed murre.

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3 Salmonier Nature Park - image

Salmonier Nature Park

45-minute drive from St. John’s
Open June 1 – Canadian Thanksgiving weekend

A popular destination for school groups and the general public, Salmonier Nature Park features walking trails to view local wildlife, plus three kilometres of boardwalk for viewing birds of the northern boreal forest in the wild. On-site staff and interpretive signs can help with species identification.

Species to spot: Gray jay, boreal chickadee, pine grosbeak, blackpoll warbler, white-winged crossbill. Occasional sightings of black-backed woodpecker and rusty blackbird.

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4 Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve - image

Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve

Interpretive Centre open early May – early October.
2.5-hour drive from St. John’s

One of the best and most accessible colonies in the world to see nesting seabirds, Cape St. Mary’s features a cliff-top viewing station that faces a nest-covered sea stack. The Cape is the only place where thick-billed murre can be easily seen from land – ask for guidance.

Species to spot: Northern gannet (24,000 pairs), black-legged kittiwake, common and thick-billed murres, razorbill, black guillemot, double-crested and great cormorants, and a few pairs of northern fulmar, from April to late September.

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Other Notable Birdwatching Areas

Cape Spear, Renews, and Cape Race Road. More info available here: Nature NL’s Website

Go Birding!

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Go Birding!

Published: February 7, 2019