Middle Lawn Island

Year of compilation: 2001

Site description (baseline)
Middle Lawn Island is located off the southern tip of Newfoundland's Burin Peninsula, approximately 4 km south of Lord's Cove. The island measures 370 by 290 metres, and consists of rugged hills that are vegetated with grasses and ferns. The southern coast of Middle Lawn Island faces the full force of the Atlantic Ocean. As a result, ocean ice rarely forms on the south side of the island.

Key biodiversity
Middle Lawn Island supports the largest concentration of nesting Manx Shearwaters in North America. Although nocturnal prospecting has occurred at other islands close by, Middle Lawn is still the only location in North America where this species regularly nests. The only other North American breeding record is from Elizabeth Island on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. In the 1980s, approximately 100 pairs, plus an additional 300 non-breeding birds were estimated to occur on Middle Lawn Island. In addition, to the nesting Manx Shearwaters, over 26,000 pairs of Leachs Storm-Petrels nest on the island. Other nesting species include Herring Gull (20 pairs), Greater Black-backed Gull (6 pairs), and Black Guillemot (8 pairs).

Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
Oil pollution, in coastal areas and on the heavily used shipping routes of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, is an ever-present threat to seabirds and other marine wildlife. On occasion, ships illegally discharge used oil, which can have a major impact on seabirds depending on the location and timing. Larger, accidental oil spills have killed thousands of seabirds, and other marine wildlife, including fish populations. The inadvertent introduction of rats could also have devastating impact on the nesting seabirds. At some locations, entire colonies have been wiped out through predation by this introduced species.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Middle Lawn Island. Downloaded from on 30/05/2023.