Mistaken Point

Country/territory: Canada

IBA criteria met: A4i (2001)
For more information about IBA criteria, please click here

Area: 11,000 ha

Birds Canada / Nature Canada

Site description (2001 baseline)
Mistaken Point is located near the southeastern corner of the Avalon Peninsula in southern Newfoundland. It is seven km to the southwest of Cape Race, with the town of Long Beach being situated at the northeastern boundary of the Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve. The 295 ha reserve was established in 1983, mainly to protect rare fossils. The IBA also includes coastline and offshore waters from Cape Race in the east to Drook, 20 km to the west.

Key biodiversity
The Cape Race Christmas Bird Count includes the Mistaken Point Area. For over twenty years, these counts have consistently recorded over 1% of the estimated North American Purple Sandpiper population (primarily in the Mistaken Point area). Some of the more recent winter counts include 223 Purple Sandpipers in 1994, 129 in 1996, and 150 in 1997. In April of 1983, 115 Purple Sandpipers were found in a short stretch of beach (approximately 4 km in length) between Long Beach and Mistaken Point, suggesting that relatively large numbers may use this site during migration as well.

In the past, particularly during winters of heavy ice, Common Eiders have been found at this site in large numbers. In 1987, a tight flock of 12,000 eiders was recorded at the leading edge of the pack ice, which happened to be adjacent to Long Beach. This represented about 4% of the estimated northeast Canada (ssp. borealis) population for this species. However, in recent years (1994 1998), the total number of eiders observed in this area has been between 184 and 688. It is still possible that Common Eiders are found in significant numbers at this site, since coverage of the areas that the ducks frequent is poor. This is especially true later in the winter (after the Christmas Bird Counts) as locations in northern Newfoundland begin to freeze, and larger numbers of eiders move south.

Of additional ornithological interest is the regular presence of Ruddy Turnstones (4 to 6 birds) that over-winter at this site. This species generally winters much farther south.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Mistaken Point. Downloaded from on 01/10/2023.