Funk Island

Year of compilation: 2001

Site description
Funk island is located approximately 60 km northeast of Cape Freels, off the northeastern coast of Newfoundland. The granitic island is generally flat although there are some low cliffs and boulder-strewn areas. The island is characterized mostly by bare rock, which is washed over by the sea in the fall and winter. One small area supports grassy turf, lichens and mosses. This meadow has grown up on soil formed by the rotting carcasses of Great Auks, which were exterminated at the beginning of the 19th century. Around the island, the cold productive waters of the Labrador Current support an abundance of zooplankton and fishes.

Key biodiversity
Funk Island supports a globally significant population of Common Murre during the breeding season. The breeding colony, whose size has been estimated at 396,000 breeding pairs, is the largest in Canada. Approximately 4% of the global population and as much as 67% of the eastern North American population is present. The island also supports large numbers of breeding Northern Gannets. Approximately 6,000 breeding pairs have been estimated, representing over 2% of the global population and almost 14% of the North American population. Large breeding populations of both these species have been consistently recorded at Funk Island since formal surveys were initiated in the early 1950s. Several other species of seabirds breed on the island including the Atlantic Puffin, Razorbill, Northern Fulmar, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Black-legged Kittiwake, and the largest, southernmost colony of Thick-billed Murres (~300 pairs).

Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
Historically, Funk Island supported a breeding population of Great Auk. This species was hunted to extinction in the early 1800s. After a long history of exploitation, Funk Island is now a provincial ecological reserve. Although the island is protected from all unauthorized human activity, unauthorized visits are still made to the island fairly commonly.

The Common Murre colony is highly sensitive to disturbance during the breeding season (approximately 15 May to 1 August). Murres are sensitive to the health of fish stocks, particularly capelin, which are their most important food during the breeding season. The fishing and diving habits of these birds make them particularly vulnerable to oil pollution.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Funk Island. Downloaded from on 25/05/2022.