202,000 km
15,993,081 km2

With the largest coastline in the world and bordered by three oceans, the North-Pacific, North Atlantic and Arctic oceans, Canadian shorelines and waters provide a number of important habitats for coastal and pelagic seabirds.The north-east Pacific, comprising the California Current and Alaska Gyre systems, supports tens of millions of breeding seabirds during the northern spring-summer. In total Canadian waters support about 15 million breeding seabirds and are one of the principle wintering area for seabirds in the North Atlantic. Priority species including the Marbled Murrelet (EN), Short-tailed Albatross (VU), Black-footed Albatross (VU), Hawaiian Petrel (VU), Pink-footed Shearwater (VU), Buller's Shearwater (VU), Laysan Albatross (NT) and Sooty Shearwater (NT). Numerous IBAs exist for Leach's Storm-petrel (LC), Harlequin Duck (LC) and Common Eider (LC). Two major at-sea survey datasets exist for this region (Canadian Wildlife Service, 1982-2010; and Raincoast Conservation Foundation unpublished 2005-2007). Canada has begun the establishment of marine IBAs, most of which are contiguous seaward extensions to breeding colonies related to foraging areas of relevant species. Recent work conducted by Audubon Alaska and the Farallon Institute for Advanced Ecosystem Research, in collaboration with Audubon California and Environment Canada, has begun to identify hotspots of marine bird abundance from at-sea survey and telemetry data. A large gap exists in the transition zone where the Alaska Gyre and California Current converge. A new project

National priorities
o Identification of further marine IBAs and refinement of existing ones
o Developing and implementing a monitoring framework for existing IBAs
o Collect distribution data on seabirds which visit Canadian waters in the non-breeding season.
o Exploration of modelling techniques appropriate for the integration of vessel-based seabird data with remotely sensed tracking data, via platform terminal transmitters
o Mapping of seasonal distribution and abundance of birds relative to fishing effort, highlighting key bird-use/ fisheries overlap zones as well as other risk factors including shipping and associated pollution risk and offshore energy development

Government's support/relevant policy
Canada has already designated several Marine Protected Areas in the Artic, Pacific, Atlantic and the Great Lakes. The Government of Canada, in collaboration with provincial and territorial partners, claims to be leading the development and implementation of a national network of marine protected areas for Canada's oceans and Great Lakes. In 2011 Canada selected three new areas of interest to become potential MPA sites: St. Anns Bank in Eastern Nova Scotia, and American Bank and Shediac Valley in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In 2005 BirdLife's Canadian partners Bird Studies Canada and Nature Canada were instrumental in passing new legislation aimed at protect seabird populations from the mortality caused by illegal bilge oil discharge. Please see policy tab for list of agreements that this country is party to.

Petrels and shearwaters

Gulls and terns
Ducks, geese and swans

IUCN Red List Status

12 (17th)
12% (76th)

The numbers in brackets refer to the country's rank when compared to other countries and territories globally.

o Mckinnon, L., Gilchrist, H.G. and Fifield, D. 2009. A pelagic seabird survey of Arctic and sub-Arctic Canadian waters during fall. Marine Ornithology 37: 77

Canada at a glance

Land area

9,984,670 km2

BirdLife Partner

Birds Canada / Nature Canada


Total number of birds 495
Globally threatened birds 22
Country endemics 3

Important Bird & Biodiversity Areas

Number of IBAs 325
Total IBA area 300,901 km2
IBA area as % of land area 3%

Endemic Bird Areas

Number of EBAs 0

Recommended Citation
BirdLife International (2023) Country profile: Canada. Downloaded from on 23/09/2023.