Manx Shearwater
(Puffinus puffinus)


Picture of bird
© Glen Tepke (
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The most northerly breeding shearwater, Manx Shearwaters occur on islands off the coast of Newfoundland’s Burin Peninsula and in small numbers off the coast of British Columbia (Force et al. 2006, Kenyon et al. 2009). However, most of the world’s population breeds in Britain and Ireland. The species was considered accidental in Canada until 1977 when the first record of a small breeding colony was made on Middle Lawn Island, Newfoundland (Storey and Lien 1985), currently the only known breeding colony in Canada. Observations of that colony by Environment and Climate Change Canada and other researchers suggest that the population has experienced a large decrease relative to the early 1970s, with few if any birds attending the colony over the past few years. Manx Shearwaters now appear to be breeding on Grand Colombier Island, which is just off the Newfoundland coast but part of the French colony of Saint Pierre et Miquelon. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.


Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Wild Species (Canada)Critically imperiled2015 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaLarge DecreaseLowBelow Acceptable Level

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada100 - 500 birds occurring seasonally

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Long-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population
CanadaVery Low

Conservation and management

A highly-mobile pelagic species, the Manx Shearwater breeds in only one location in Canada, though it occurs on both the east and the west coasts. Its wintering range appears to be restricted to an area along the Argentinean coast (Guilford et al. 2009). The small and isolated nesting population in Canada is highly vulnerable to extirpation; the occurrence of mammalian predators and human disturbance at the breeding colony appears to be the major limiting factors (Roul 2010). Other reasons why the Canadian colony has not become better established include the growth of a large gull colony nearby, changes in the marine ecosystems, and a short breeding season (Robertson 2002). Declines have occurred in other North Atlantic colonies as a result of over-harvest and introduced mammalian predators (Lee and Haney 1996). Lawn Islands Archipelago, where the Manx Shearwater occurs, was designated as the Lawn Bay Ecological Reserve in 2015.


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Newfoundland and Labrador Shelves Newfoundland and Labrador Shelves , sub-region and priority type: Atlantic, NL -- Other
Northern Pacific RainforestNorthern Pacific Rainforest, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon -- Stewardship
Scotian ShelfScotian Shelf, sub-region and priority type: Atlantic, NB -- Other
Scotian ShelfScotian Shelf, sub-region and priority type: Atlantic, NS -- Other