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New England Seabirds

 Wilson's Storm-petrel  Dave Jones


Breeding Colonies

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Breeding Colonies

Machias Seal Island Maine


Cape St. Mary Newfoundland

Witless Bay Newfoundland


Bonaventure Island Gaspé Canada

Bird Island Cape Breton Island Nova Scotia


Gannet colony  EB Tarry

Northern Gannets in a breeding colony at Cape St. Mary Nwfoundland.  Photo by EB Tarry.

Visit Seabird Breeding Colonies
Seabirds spend 90% of their lives at sea. Some pelagic birders spend 100% of their seabird birding hours  looking for seabirds at sea. They miss breeding activity which can be the most exotic and interesting of bird behaviors. After you have enjoyed watching these birds at sea the next step is to see them on the breeding grounds. Here are some places close to home you can visit in Maine, Canada and Newfoundland. For more distant colonies see Wandering Birder.Seabirds have evolved to be efficient at sea. They are most vulnerable on the breeding grounds. Make sure you learn and follow all the rules to protect the breeding birds.

Location of Colonies on north east coast North America

Coast of Maine
On the coast of Maine north of Bar Harbor in an area referred to as "Down East" by natives, is the small town of Machias which can serve as a jumping off spot to visit Machias Seal Island. You can also reach the island from Canada.


Cape Breton Island Nova Scotia
Bird Island is reached by boat from Cape Breton Island on the northern part of Nova Scotia.


Gaspé Peninsula Quebec Province Canada-
Bonaventure Island, the second largest Gannet Colony in the world is found on the Gaspé Peninsula which juts into the Gulf of St. Lawrence from Quebec Province of Canada..

Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland
Cape St. Mary and the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve are located on the Avalon Peninsula of eastern Newfoundland.

Witless Bay Newfoundland
Four islands off the eastern coast of the Avalon Penisula of Newfoundland about 40 miles south of St. John make up the the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve. Visitors are not permitted to land on the islands, but several operators offer boat trips that allow you to see and photograph the birds from the boat.

As the boat circles the island thousands of seabirds are seen on the cliffs. Most are Common Murres. Also Thick-billed Murres, Razorbills, Puffins, Kittiwakes, and Black Guillemots.

Witless Bay Bird Cliff  EB Tarry

Bird Island - Cape Breton Nova Scotia
Bird Island is actually two islands: Hertford and Ciboux, located between the end of the Cabot Trail and North Sydney on Cape Breton Island Nova Scotia. North Sydney is the port out of which you take both ferries to Newfoundland. Since you will need to arrive a day early anyway, this is a great activity for the day before you leave. Visitors are restricted to circling the islands by boat. The trip takes about 2 !/2 hours.


Great Cormorants nest on Bird Island  EB Tarry

What Birds Can You See
Bird Island supports the largest colony of Great Cormorants in North America and this is the best reason for birders to visit the island. Other birds nesting on the islands are: Atlantic Puffin, Razorbill, Black-legged Kittiwake, and Black Guillemot.

Great Cormorants winter off the coast of New England. On Bird Island they are breeding.

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Breeding Colonies   |  Machias Seal Island  | Cape St. Mary  | Bonaventure Island GaspéBird Island   | Witless BayTop of Page