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The Adopt-A-Beach program is an initiative led by CPAWS-NL and aimed to recruit volunteers as Stewards in key communities to monitor birds washing up on their local beaches on a bi-weekly basis.

Beached bird surveys are a valuable tool to monitor various sources of mortality occurring in the marine environment, which can otherwise be difficult to assess. They provide information on mortality occurring in the offshore marine environment, such as:

  • Exposure to oil pollution
  • Entanglement with fishing gear
  • Weather-related stranding

Having volunteers monitor local beaches will increase public awareness and appreciation of these types of surveys, birds as an indicator species, the marine environment, oil pollution, etc. Awareness will lead to public support and ownership for local beach surveys and will result in volunteer stewards providing valuable high quality data on beached birds.

The data collected will be used to provide scientific-based information that will help with management decisions at various levels. Monitoring mortality rates is critical in ensuring our marine environment and its resources are health, sustainable and available for future generations.

Interested participants will be provided with survey kits and trained by a Wildlife Biologist from Environment Canada’s Canadian Wildlife Service.

For more information on our Adopt-a-Beach program, please read our brochure: Adopt-a-Beach Brochure.

Common Seabirds of Newfoundland


Alcids, also known as Auks, although closely resembling penguins are not related and are believed to be an example of convergent evolution. Alcids are well known for being excellent underwater swimmers – sacrificing grace in the air and on land for this ability. Alcids are pelagic birds, spending most of their adult life at sea, going ashore only for breeding. They are monogamous (only one partner for life) and philopatric (returning to the same nesting site year after year).



Atlantic Puffin

Typically standing no more than 28-30 cm tall, the Atlantic Puffin is known for their distinctively bright orange-coloured bill and feet.

Puffins are excellent swimmers, able to dive up to 60m below the surface to look for food. They are not, however, good flyers. They need to flap their wings up to 400 times per minute in order to remain airborne.

They spend the majority of their lives at sea, however in the spring puffins gather in colonies on the coast of the North Atlantic Ocean to breed. The Witless Bay Ecological Reserve, located off the coast of Witless Bay, Newfoundland is the largest puffin colony in North America and the second largest colony in the world. There is also a smaller colony located off the coast of Elliston, Newfoundland.

Common (and Bridled) Murre


Commonly referred to as a “Turr” in Newfoundland, the Murre is larger than the small Atlantic Puffin – ranging in height from 38-46 cm. In North America there are two species of Murres: the Common Murre (or Thin-Billed Murre) and the Thick-Billed Murre.

The Murre has the most densely packed nesting colonies of any bird species. Nesting spots can be so close together that incubating adults may be touching other adults on both sides. They make no physical nest, and instead incubate their single egg on a bare rock ledge on a cliff face.

Thick-Billed Murres

Common Murres have a thin, dark, and pointed bill, which sets them apart from the Thick-Billed Murres, whose bills are short and thick with a white gape stripe.

Some individuals, known as the Bridled Type, have a white ring around their eyes that extends back as a white line. This is a polymorphism – a different form but not a different species.




The Razorbill Auk (or lesser Auk) is the closest living relative of the extinct Great Auk. Their thick blunt bill is very distinct, as well as the white line that extends from their eye to the end of the bill.

The parents spend equal amounts of time incubating their eggs, and once the chick has hatched, they take turns foraging for their young. Like the Murres, Razorbills nest along coastal cliffs in enclosed or slightly exposed crevices.

Black Guillemot

Black Guillemots can be seen in and around its breeding habitat of rocky shores, cliffs and islands in single or smalls groups of pairs. They have mostly black feathers, but in the summer they have large white patches on the tops of their wings. Their bills are black while their feet are coral-red. In the early fall, adults lose their summer plumage – their upper plumage becomes flecked with light grey and white, their head is pale grey, their bellies  are white, and  their legs and feet a pale red.



The Dovekie (also known as Little Auk) breeds on islands in the high Arctic, and come south in the winter months. They small, only about half the size of the Atlantic Puffin.  These birds forage for food like other auks by swimming underwater – they tend to prefer eating crustaceans, especially copepods, but will also eat invertebrates and fish.

Adult birds are black on the head, neck, back and wings, with white underparts. Their bill is very short and stubby and they have a small rounded black tail.

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