Bonaventure Island and Percé Rock Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Photo Bonaventure Island (in the distance) and Percé Rock (left)
Photo: Jean-François Rail © Environment and Climate Change Canada. Bonaventure Island (in the distance) and Percé Rock (left).

The Bonaventure Island and Percé Rock Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) is located in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, in the Gaspé, southeast of the city of Percé. The MBS is divided into two parts: the first covers Bonaventure Island and 500 m of surrounding marine waters; the second encompasses Percé Rock and the marine waters extending 1 km offshore, excluding any land that falls within this perimeter.

Bonaventure Island is predominantly forested, with intermittent layers of herbaceous meadows. A diverse range of flora decorates the cliffs, which rise up to 75 m in height on the northeastern section of the island. These cliffs are characterised by red sandstone interspersed with beds of coarse limestone breccia. Percé Rock is connected to the mainland by a sandbar that is exposed at low tide. Exposed rock and herbaceous meadows are the main features of Percé Rock.

The 1361 hectare MBS was established in 1919 to protect an essential nesting site for seabirds, in particular the Northern Gannet.

Importance of the Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Numbering more than 53 000 pairs in 2004, the Northern Gannet is by far the most noticeable species on Bonaventure Island. In the early 1930s, the colony comprised only 12 000 birds.

Common Murres and Black-legged Kittiwakes also have imposing colonies on Bonaventure Island. The Common Murre population has seen significant growth in recent decades, having increased from between 1000 and 9000 birds in the 1960s to over 56 400 birds in 2002. As for the Black-legged Kittiwake, although numbers peaked at 47 000 birds in the 1980s, its population has declined since the 2000s, with 37 000 birds recorded in 2002. Despite its depletion in numbers, this species remains the most populous in the Percé Rock portion of the MBS.

The Herring Gull and Great Black-backed Gull are two species seen equally as often on both Bonaventure Island and Percé Rock, as indeed are the Black Guillemot and Razorbill. Other species, namely the Great Cormorant and Double-crested Cormorant, seem to prefer nesting on Percé Rock. The Double-crested Cormorant had a population of 488 individuals in 2002. The Atlantic Puffin, observed on Bonaventure Island, does not seem to frequent Percé Rock. Some passerines, like the Boreal Chickadee and Blackpoll Warbler, have also been sighted on Bonaventure Island.

Access and Activities

MBSs are established for the protection and conservation of migratory birds. Activities that could harm migratory birds, their nests or their eggs are prohibited.

MBSs can be and have been established on private, provincial, territorial and federally owned lands. Access to each MBS varies by site and is at the discretion of the landowner and land manager.

Where MBSs are located on federal land, Environment and Climate Change Canada is responsible for the management and protection of migratory birds, nests, eggs and habitat. Where MBSs are located on provincial land, Environment and Climate Change Canada is responsible for the protection of migratory birds and their nests, while the chief game officer of the province is responsible for the management of habitat. Where MBSs are located on private or municipal land, Environment and Climate Change Canada is responsible for the protection of migratory birds and their nests. Habitat management is the responsibility of the landowner.

The standard prohibitions under the Migratory Bird Sanctuary Regulations apply to Bonaventure Island and Percé Rock MBS: hunting migratory birds is prohibited, and no person shall disturb, destroy or take the nest of a migratory bird or have in his or her possession a live migratory bird, or a carcass, skin, nest or egg of a migratory bird, except under the authority of a permit issued by Environment and Climate Change Canada or unless specifically authorized by the Regulations. Possession of firearms or other hunting appliances is prohibited, and dogs and cats must not be allowed to run at large.

Under the Migratory Bird Sanctuary Regulations, each year from May 1st to August 31st, climbing or attempting to climb the cliffs on the north and east sides of Bonaventure Island and Percé Rock is prohibited.

Access denial or restrictions imposed by the owners of land within the MBS may also apply.

For more information on entry, activities and permits in MBSs, please visit the Management and Activities section of the Migratory Bird Sanctuaries website. For more information on protected areas managed by Environment and Climate Change Canada in Quebec, please contact the regional office.

For greater certainty, nothing in this document shall be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from the protection provided for existing Aboriginal or treaty rights of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada by the recognition and affirmation of those rights in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

Map of the Area

  • Map of Bonaventure Island and Percé Rock Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Long description of the map

Map showing the location of Bonaventure Island and Percé Rock Migratory Bird Sanctuary relative to Quebec, Percé, Bonaventure Island, Baie de Percé and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The map shows the boundaries of the sanctuary, which covers Bonaventure Island and Percé Rock as well as a portion of the surrounding water. The scale of the map is in tenths of a kilometer.

This map is for illustrative purposes only and should not be used to define legal boundaries. Bonaventure Island and Percé Rock Migratory Bird Sanctuary can also be viewed using Google Maps. Please note that the Google map is a complementary source of information and does not represent the official map or site name.

Summary table

Summary table for Bonaventure Island and Percé Rock Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Category Information
Protected Area designation Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Province or territory Quebec
Latitude/longitude 48°29'45.00"N 64° 9'43.00"W and
48°31'25.00"N 64°11'56.00"W
Size in hectares (ha) 1361 ha
Date created (Gazetted) 1919
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) management category III - Natural Monument or Feature
Additional designations
Main habitat type Bonaventure Island: woodland and herbaceous meadow.
Percé Rock: exposed rock and herbaceous meadow.
Key bird species Northern Gannet, Black-legged Kittiwake, Razorbill and Great Cormorant
Other species Birds: Common Murre, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Black Guillemot, Double-crested Cormorant, Atlantic Puffin, Boreal Chickadee and Blackpole Warbler
Listed species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) None
Management agency Canadian Wildlife Service, Quebec Region

Contact Information

Environment and Climate Change Canada - Quebec Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas Unit
801-1550, avenue d'Estimauville
9250 - 49th Street
Québec, Quebec G1J 0C3
Toll Free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
Email: ec.enviroinfo.ec@canada.ca
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