Northern Groais Island

Country/territory: Canada

IBA Criteria met: -
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Area: 22 ha

Birds Canada / Nature Canada

Site description
Groais Island is the northern most of two islands that together, are often referred to as the Grey Islands. These islands are located off the eastern side of Newfoundland's Great Northern Peninsula. The northern coastline of Groais Island has high cliffs that rise over 100 metres from the ocean. Offshore, a few small rocks and shoals are present, with the Sisters Rocks being located off the northeast tip of the island. Although the ocean is mostly ice-covered in this region from January to April, the prevailing westerly winds often create open leads of water around the island. The direction and speed with which these small, ice-free areas move is dependent on a combination of the Labrador Current, and the winds speed and direction.

Key biodiversity
The northern coastline of Groais Island is important for birds during both the breeding and wintering season. In May, June, and July, a colony Black-legged Kittiwakes nest on the exposed cliffs of northern Groais Island and The Sisters Rocks. Data from the early 1970s suggest that as many as 2400 pairs have been present, which would represent about 1% of the estimated western Atlantic population. More recent estimates of the size of this colony are not available.

During the winter, larger numbers of Common Eiders (mostly from the northern borealis population) frequent the northern shoreline of Groais Island. Although it is generally estimated that two or three thousand birds are present (discussions with hunters, etc.) an aerial survey completed by the Canadian Wildlife Service in 1995 failed to locate any eiders at this site. During the 1995 survey, large numbers of eiders were recorded around the Fischot Islands (about 20 km to the north). Due to the frequently changing conditions as a result of ice coverage, it is suspected that eiders move back and forth between key feeding areas such as the north shore of Groais Island, around the Fischot Islands, and along the south coast of Bell Island. More winter survey work is required to obtain a better understanding of the numbers and movements of Common Eiders in this area.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Northern Groais Island. Downloaded from on 01/07/2022.