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Plan your trip > The Great Outdoors > Bird Watching Print this page
Bird Watching

The Lower North Shore offers a rewarding experience for birdwatchers.  More than 218 species of terrestrial birds, shorebirds and seabirds have been documented in the region. The best time to view birds in during spring and fall migration and summer breeding season.  The rich marine environment of the Lower North Shore attracts fourteen kinds of seabirds to breed and raise their young, including alcids such as the puffin, murre and razorbill.  Renowned naturalist John James Audubon was impressed by the diversity of birds when he visited in 1833.

The warmth of spring welcomes migrating waterfowl on their way north to breed.

Rough-legged Hawk
Rough-legged Hawk

During this time, you may see dabbling or diving ducks such as Common Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Black Duck and Common Mergansers. Seaducks such as the Common Eider fly by in large flocks with hundreds or even thousands of individuals.

During summer months, seabirds breed and raise their young on offshore islands along the Lower North Shore.  At the region’s six federally designated Migratory Bird Sanctuaries, you can expect to see Common Eiders, Razorbills, Black Guillemots, Common Murres, Red-throated Loon, along with Ring-Billed, Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls.  Brador Bay Migratory Bird Sanctuary is home to the largest Atlantic Puffin colony in Quebec, with more than 20,000 of these colourful birds. Raptors such as the Rough-Legged Hawk, Northern Harrier, and Short-eared Owl can also be observed flying low over the barrens looking for prey.

Common Murre
Common Murre

The fall migration allows for the viewing of many shore birds.  Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Semipalmated Plovers and many “peeps” gather in bays, especially at low tide.  Sanderlings chase the edges of waves as they feed. Several species of grouse and ptarmigan are also common in the area.

With the onset of winter and much colder temperatures, you can view the Snowy Owl as it blends in with its surroundings.  Large flocks of “snowbirds” or Snow Buntings can be seen at the side of roads.

A comprehensive list of bird species on the Quebec Lower North Shore was developed by the Quebec-Labrador Foundation (QLF). It is available through QLF or from Tourism Lower North Shore.  Bird Protection Quebec can provide additional information about bird observation in the province.


In 1925, six federal Migratory Bird Sanctuaries were established along the Lower North Shore to protect its nationally-significant seabird colonies.  Centuries of unregulated seabird and egg harvesting led to the dramatic decline of many of these bird populations. The Canadian Wildlife Service monitors bird populations in the sanctuaries every five years.   

Many of these sanctuaries are located close to shore where they can be viewed with binoculars or the naked eye.  Please keep in mind that these birds are highly sensitive to human disturbance.  Regulations state that no person shall upset, destroy or take nests of migratory birds, nor carry out any activity that may be harmful to the birds, their eggs or their habitat.  Whether you are watching from afar or are getting a closer view by boat, please be respectful of these conditions. 

For more information about specific bird sanctuaries, please refer to the attractions available in each village.

Île-aux-Perroquets Bird Sanctuary
Île-aux-Perroquets Bird Sanctuary
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