Northern Fulmar
(Fulmarus glacialis)


Picture of bird
© Glen Tepke (
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

The majority of Canada’s Northern Fulmars breed in 11 colonies distributed across the eastern Canadian Arctic. Those breeding in the High Arctic are a distinct subspecies (F. g. glacialis); one for which a substantial fraction nest in Canada. An additional small fraction of the population (<0.01%) is distributed among breeding sites in British Columbia, Newfoundland, and Labrador. Northern Fulmars are present off the west coast of Canada throughout the entire year, with peak numbers generally between June and November (Kenyon et al. 2009). Trend data are sparse, both because of the remote nature of the Arctic colonies and because Northern Fulmars are difficult to census due to variable colony attendance. However, there is some evidence of a long-term decline relative to the 1970s. 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)Secure2015 
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
Canada300,000 - 400,000 breeding birds

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Short-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population

Conservation and management

Where their range overlaps with fisheries, Northern Fulmars make heavy use of scavenged fish offal; changes in the availability fisheries discards could potentially impact populations (Mallory et al. 2012). In the waters surrounding Pacific, Arctic, and Atlantic Canada, the vessel-attracted Northern Fulmars are at risk of incidental capture in gillnets, especially when fisheries are operating close to breeding colonies in summer (Hedd et al. 2015), and are highly susceptible to mortality from longline fisheries (Mallory 2006, Kenyon et al. 2009). Recent modeling exercises demonstrate that incidental take from fisheries can negatively impact Arctic Northern Fulmar populations, even at current levels (Anderson et al. 2018). Because they feed at the surface, Northern Fulmars are also susceptible to mortality from oil pollution, as well as to the potential negative impacts of plastic ingestion. In the North Atlantic, the prevalence of ingested plastics in Northern Fulmars is second only to Great Shearwaters (Provencher et al. 2014).


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
Northern Pacific RainforestNorthern Pacific Rainforest, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon -- Other