Terra Nova Migratory Bird Sanctuary

The Terra Nova Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) is located on the east coast of Newfoundland, Newfoundland and Labrador. It offers habitat for many seabirds and shorelines.

Importance of the sanctuary: migratory birds and other wildlife

Terra Nova Migratory Bird Sanctuary is situated in the Bonavista Bay region of northeastern Newfoundland, adjacent to Terra Nova National Park. Compared to other migratory bird sanctuaries across the country, the overall number of birds using this site may not be considered to be large, however the number of species that show up in this protected area is impressive. Within Newman Sound and Southwest Arm, approximately 30 species are regularly spotted and nearly half of the birds on the list of species recorded at Terra Nova National Park have been observed in or flying over this sanctuary.

Southwest Arm, Terra Nova Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Southwest Arm, Terra Nova Migratory Bird Sanctuary. Photo: John C. King

The main groups of bird species to be found here are shorebirds, waterfowl and seabirds. During the fall migration, several hundred Canada geese, American black duck, common goldeneye and mergansers make use of the sanctuary. Shorebirds are particularly visible during the summer months and the early fall when they can be spotted along the tidal flats. During the winter months, the portion of Southwest Arm that is included within the sanctuary freezes making it inhospitable for many of the waterfowl that overwinter in the area. Newman Sound, by contrast, is an important area for waterfowl species throughout the year.

Did you know?

The common goldeneye is born with greyish-brown coloured eyes. Over the first few months of its life, a chick’s eyes will transition from this original colour to purplish-blue, then to blue, then to blueish-green and by the time it is five months old, its eyes are a light greenish-yellow. As adults, female common goldeneyes have pale yellow eyes, while males have strikingly bright yellow eyes.

Male Common Goldeneye
Male common goldeneye


The Terra Nova Migratory Bird Sanctuary is separated into two distinct sections, each composed of the upper portion of a tidal inlet that is nearly completely enclosed by lands within the Terra Nova National Park. The northern section of the sanctuary is made up of Southwest Arm and a portion of Broad Cove, which are separated by a causeway and bridge. The second section encompasses the westernmost portion of Newman Sound. Both sections are relatively shallow tidal inlets with intertidal (area covered by water when tide is high and exposed when tide is low) flats in their upper reaches. The largest intertidal flats in the sanctuary are the Big Brook Tidal Flats located at the head of Newman Sound. The shorelines within the sanctuary are made up of small gravel beaches as well as areas with large rounded boulders and cliffs that rise steeply to the adjoining treed higher ground. Both inlets are rich marine environments and Newman Sound has been recommended as an ecological reserve under the International Biological Program.

Map of the area

Map of Terra Nova Migratory Bird Sanctuary
  • Long description

    Map showing the location of the Terra Nova Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) in relation to Newfoundland and Labrador, Northeast Arm, Southwest Arm, and Bonavista Bay. The map shows the boundaries of the refuge, which is divided into two zones east of Highway 1 and south of Highway 310. One of the zones follows the shorelines and closes part of Bonavista Bay, while the second zone follows the coasts and encloses part of Northeast Arm. The scale of the map is in kilometers. Permanent waters, intertidal areas, roads and highways are shown on the map. An insert on the map shows the location of the shelter in Canada.

Access to the sanctuary

Migratory Bird Sanctuaries, such as Terra Nova are established across the country to protect migratory birds during critical periods of their life cycle. Whether these areas are used for feeding, resting or nesting, they play an important role in the survival of many species. Access to each migratory bird sanctuary varies by site and is at the discretion of the landowner and land manager. Please ensure that you are aware of how you can help protect this sanctuary and please read the restrictions, including those on firearms and hunting, which are in place to conserve the wildlife that call it home. Dogs and cats must not be allowed to run at large 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 Terra Nova Migratory Bird Sanctuary in particular, please contact our regional office.

Key facts about Terra Nova Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Protected Area designation Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Province or territory Newfoundland and Labrador
Latitude/longitude 48°34' N, 53°57' W (Inner Newman Sound); 48°38' N, 53°56' W (Southwest Arm)
Size 870 hectares
Date created (Gazetted) 1967
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) management category National Park
Additional designations None recorded
Main habitat type Open water (91%), tidal flats (9%)
Key bird species Canada goose, American black duck, common goldeneye and common merganser
Listed species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) None
Management agency Canadian Wildlife Service, Atlantic Region
Landowner Province of Newfoundland and Labrador

Related links

Terra Nova 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 - Atlantic Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas Program
17 Waterfowl Lane
Sackville NB  E4L 1G6

Toll Free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
Email: ec.enviroinfo.ec@canada.ca

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