Les rochers aux Oiseaux

Country/territory: Canada

IBA Criteria met: A4ii, A4iii (2008)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 1,200 ha

Protection status:

Birds Canada / Nature Canada

Site description
The Rocher aux Oiseaux and the associated Rocher aux Margaulx are located about 32 km northeast of the Magdalen Islands archipelago. These sandstone rocks (about 1 km apart) emerge from the sea at the edge of the Laurentian channel, which is located in the middle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The Rocher aux Oiseaux is a flat topped island with 30 m high rock cliffs on nearly all sides. A lighthouse (now automated) and three associated buildings are located on the plateau. About 70% of the area is covered by herbs, and the remainder is bare rock. The Rocher aux Margaulx was broken into two parts more than a century ago, and is gradually be worn away by the sea. Only a small plateau remains. A third island, which was documented in Jacques Cartier?s 1534 voyage to Canada, has been completely eroded away. The Rocher aux Oiseaux and Rocher aux Margaux can be reached by helicopter or boat from the Grosse-Île sea-harbour, but access is restricted.

Key biodiversity
The Rocher aux Oiseaux and Rocher aux Margaulx support one of the six Northern Gannet Colonies in North America. In 1994, the colony was estimated to contain 9,868 pairs. This is about a 20% increase from the 1989 survey when 7,640 pairs was estimated, and almost a 50% increase from the 1984 survey when 6,590 pairs were recorded. In 1989, this colony supported about 17% of the estimated North American Northern Gannet population. Like other colonies in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, this colony has been increasing at a rate of 3 to 4% per year. In addition to Northern Gannets, a number of other seabirds nest on these islands including: Black-legged Kittiwakes (3,701 pairs in 1989 which represents over 1% of the estimated Western Atlantic population); Razorbills (about 500 birds in 1987); Common Murre (about 500 birds in 1989); Thick-billed Murres (as many as 500-1000 birds in the early 1970s, but more recently less than 100 birds); and Atlantic Puffins (about 100 birds in 1989). Moreover, it would be probable to find a few nesting Black Guillemots, Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls, and Leach’s Storm-Petrels.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Les rochers aux Oiseaux. Downloaded from on 07/08/2020.