Bonaventure Island and Percé Rock Migratory Bird Sanctuary

The Bonaventure Island and Percé Rock Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) is located east of Percé city, in Québec. It preserves an important habitat for the northern gannet to nest.

Importance of the sanctuary: migratory birds and other wildlife

Located in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, southeast of the city of Percé in Gaspésie, the Bonaventure Island and Percé Rock Migratory Bird Sanctuary was established in 1919 to protect an essential nesting site for seabirds, in particular the northern gannet.

In the early 1930s, the northern gannet colony in this sanctuary was estimated to comprise 8 000 birds, however, by 2004, this number had increased to more than 60 000 pairs in 2009. The population is maintained between 48 000 and 58 000 since, making it by far the most noticeable of the species found on Bonaventure Island.

Northern Gannets
Northern gannets at Bonaventure Island and Percé Rock MBS. Photo: Jean-François Rail

While the northern gannet may be the most numerous species in this sanctuary, both the common murre and black-legged kittiwake also have imposing colonies on the island. The number of common murres has grown significantly in the sanctuary, estimated under 10 000 birds in the late 1960s to an estimated 56 000 birds in 1989 and 2002. In contrast, the black-legged kittiwake experienced a decline in number from its peak of 47 000 birds in the 1980s to less than 20 000 individual during the 2008 and 2013 surveys.

Some species, such as the herring gull, great black-backed gull, black guillemot and razorbill, are seen equally as often on both Bonaventure Island and Percé Rock, while other species, namely the great cormorant and double-crested cormorant (estimated at 488 birds in 2002), seem to prefer nesting on Percé Rock. The Atlantic puffin, on the other hand, has been observed on Bonaventure Island, but does not appear to frequent Percé Rock. Songbirds (passerines) have also been spotted on Bonaventure Island including the boreal chickadee and blackpoll warbler.

Did you know?

The brown-headed chickadee is monogamous. Partners stay together year-round, and can even remain united for life.

This bird nests in cavities and sometimes in small colonies.


This sanctuary is composed of two sections: the first being Bonaventure Island and the surrounding waters within 500 metres of it, while the second section encompasses Percé Rock and the waters within one kilometre from its shore (excluding any land that falls within this area other than Percé Rock).

Bonaventure Island (in the distance) and Percé Rock (left). Photo: Jean-François Rail

The two sections of land covered by this sanctuary differ significantly. Bonaventure Island is mostly forested with scatterings of herbaceous meadows. Its cliffs, which rise up to 75 metres in height on the northeastern part of the island, are composed of red sandstone interspersed with beds of coarse, fragmented limestone (breccia) and are decorated with a diverse range of plant life. Percé Rock, by contrast, is connected to the mainland by a sandbar that is exposed at low tide and the main features of this landmass are exposed rock and herbaceous meadows.

Map of the area

Map of Bonaventure Island and Percé Rock MBS
  • Long description

    Map showing the Bonaventure Island and Percé Rock Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) in relation to Québec, Percé, Ile Bonaventure, Percé Rock, Percé Bay and Saint-Lawrence Gulf. The MBS is located east of highway 132. The map shows the boundaries of the refuge, which enclose Ile Bonaventure and the Percé Rock as well as part of the surrounding waters. The scale of the map is in kilometers. Permanent waters, intertidale zone, and roads are shown on the map. An inset shows the location of the shelter in Canada.

Access to the sanctuary

Migratory Bird Sanctuaries, such as Bonaventure Island and Percé Rock, are established across the country to protect migratory birds during critical periods of their migration. Whether these areas are used for feeding, resting or nesting, they play an important role in the survival of many species. Please ensure that you are aware of how, as a visitor, you can help protect this sanctuary and, before accessing the site, please read the restrictions, including those on firearms and hunting, that are in place to conserve the wildlife that call it home. It is also important to remember that pets are not welcome inside Migratory Bird Sanctuaries.

If you would like further information on what is permitted in Migratory Bird Sanctuaries, please visit the Management and Activities section of the website. For more information on Bonaventure Island and Percé Rock Migratory Bird Sanctuary in particular, please contact our regional office.

Please note: 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.

Key facts about Bonaventure Island and Percé Rock Migratory Bird Sanctuary

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 1361 hectares
Date created (Gazetted) 1919
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) management category Natural Monument or Feature (III)
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

Related links

Bonaventure Island and Percé Rock Migratory Bird Sanctuary on Google Maps (Please note that the Google map is a complementary source of information that can help locate the migratory bird sanctuary and does not represent the official map or site name)

Contact information

Environment and Climate Change Canada – Quebec Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas Unit
801-1550, avenue d'Estimauville
Québec, Quebec G1J 0C3

Toll Free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)

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