Newfoundland Birding with Canadian Geographic

9 Days from
$3,450 USD
Land Tour
Highlights

Highlights

  • In partnership with Canadian Geographic Adventures
  • Fabulous birding amidst spectacular scenery in a land steeped in history and culture
  • Boat trips and visits to massive and impressive seabird colonies
  • A visit to the internationally renowned fossil beds of Mistaken Point UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Excellent seafood
Partners
Map

Map

Tour Overview

Our Newfoundland birding tour with Canadian Geographic offers spectacular scenery and fabulous wildlife.

Seabird colonies dot the Avalon and Bonavista Peninsulas – thousands of Atlantic Puffins, Northern Gannets, Black-legged Kittiwakes and both murres, with lesser numbers of Razorbills and Black Guillemots, are nesting at this time. Landbirds include interesting species such as Gray-cheeked Thrush, Boreal Chickadee, Blackpoll Warbler, crossbills, and Willow Ptarmigan. Caribou and moose are often photographable along the roadsides.

We explore historic fishing villages and quaint, colourful outports along the way. We also visit the rugged and beautiful Mistaken Point UNESCO World Heritage Site – the unique fossils here are internationally significant and represent the oldest evidence of multicellular life on the planet.

Dates & Prices

DATES & PRICES

What's Included

Tour Price Includes

  • All accommodation (good quality)
  • Includes all breakfasts and lunches
  • Boat trips to seabird colonies and whale watching
  • Mistaken Point guided fossil tour
  • Ground transportation
  • 4 - 7 participants with one guide and one Ambassador, 8 - 12 participants with two guides plus an Ambassador
  • All park, conservation and entrance fees

Tour Price Does Not Include

  • Flights to and from start/end location
  • Evening meals
  • Travel Insurance
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Taxes (15% HST)

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival - St. John’s

Our Newfoundland birding tour with Canadian Geographic commences with an evening meet & greet in St. John’s – North America’s oldest city perched on the eastern edge of the continent. If time and weather permits, we may squeeze in a visit to historic Signal Hill for panoramic views over the city. Overnight in St. John’s.

Typical colorful houses in St John's Newfoundland Canada

Days 2: St. John’s, Cape Spear and Witless Bay Ecological Reserve

We start our morning with a visit to North America’s most easterly point at Cape Spear National Historic Site, which is also a great place to scan for icebergs, seabirds and migrating whales. We stroll through a variety of songbird habitats including lush boreal forests and rich wetlands, searching out gems such as Boreal Chickadee, Swamp Sparrow, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher and several species of warbler.

After lunch, we will take a boat tour in the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve – a series of islands that is home to more than 4 million seabirds - including North America’s largest Atlantic Puffin colony, thousands of Common Murre, Black-legged Kittiwake and Razorbill. The only thing more amazing than the sound of thousands of seabirds chattering is the incredible point-blank views as we cruise around these protected islands. Overnight in St. John’s.

Atlantic Puffin

Days 3-4: Southeast Avalon Peninsula

The “Irish Loop”, named for the area’s strong cultural roots, includes coastal headlands, seascapes and historic villages. Scenery is stark and beautiful. We will make several stops to bird the scrubby woodlands typical of the peninsula, listening for boreal songbirds such as Blackpoll Warbler, Northern Waterthrush and Fox Sparrow. The many sheltered bays and inlets dotting the coast offer chances to look for Arctic Terns and other seabirds.

We will also make our first forays into some of the world’s most southerly expanses of subarctic tundra in search of barrens species such as Horned Lark, American Pipit and Willow Ptarmigan. There may be opportunities to see some of the Woodland Caribou herd that resides in this region, and we will always be on the lookout for Moose!

On one day, we will enjoy a guided hike to the ancient fossils of Mistaken Point UNESCO World Heritage Site – the oldest evidence of multicellular life on the planet and a snapshot in time of “when life got big”.

Other cultural and historic highlights may include iconic lighthouses such as Cape Race which played a prominent role in the final hours of the Titanic tragedy. Overnight Trepassey (Day 3) and St. Bride's (day 4).

Willow ptarmigan

Day 5: Cape St. Mary's Ecological Reserve

During the morning we will visit breath-taking Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve. The steep cliffs here are home to one of the largest colonies of Northern Gannet in North America and thousands of other seabirds, including the world's southernmost breeding Thick-billed Murres. The area offers spectacular scenery and very close views of the gannet colony, allowing for excellent photographic opportunities.

The surrounding “Eastern Hyperoceanic Barrens” are a rare ecosystem that is home to Savannah Sparrows, Short-eared Owls, unique wildflowers and the range-restricted Short-tailed Swallowtail butterfly among others.

We then follow the coast to Castle Hill National Historic Site, looking for passerines such as Pine Grosbeak and Grey-cheeked Thrush. Castle Hill is so named for the French and English fortifications dating back to the mid-1600s, and the top of the hill overlooks scenic Placentia Bay.

We end our day by leaving the Avalon Peninsula behind and driving west across the narrow isthmus that connects it to the rest of Newfoundland. Overnight in Charlottetown.

A full view of Big Rock at Cape St. Mary's Ecological Reserve where over ten thousand northern gannets nest among other sea birds along the coast of Newfoundland, Canada.

Day 6: Terra Nova National Park

We will spend today exploring a variety of coastal and upland habitats in Terra Nova National Park which includes sheltered bays, steep cliffs and rich boreal forests. We will be looking primarily for boreal bird species including eastern Palm Warblers, Spruce Grouse, Black-backed Woodpeckers, and Canada Jay.

Around the many bogs and wetlands we will search for wildflowers and listen for the unique songs of Rusty Blackbird and Olive-sided Flycatcher, among many other birds. Snowshoe Hare and Moose are fairly common in the park. This evening we drive to nearby Bonavista. Overnight in the Bonavista/Trinity area.

Moose

Day 7: Bonavista & Elliston

The Bonavista Peninsula is known not only for its natural beauty, but also its many historic settlements and the key roles it played in the island’s fishing economy.

We will visit the lighthouse and rugged headlands of Cape Bonavista, keeping an eye out for seabirds such as Black Guillemot along the cliff edge, whales and icebergs on the wide-open ocean and unique plants that hug the windswept coastline. "The Dungeon” is an intriguing geological formation that illustrates how the area’s characteristic sea stacks are formed over thousands of years.

Nearby Elliston is not only rustic and beautiful, but boasts one of the most accessible Atlantic Puffin colonies in North America. The colony is only a stone’s throw from the “mainland” and puffins sometimes fly over and land near their human observers – making it a favourite haunt for nature photographers. Elliston is also known for its abundance of historic “root cellars”, which can be seen throughout the town including along the trail to the puffin site. Overnight in the Bonavista/Trinity area.

The Dungeon, Cape Bonavista, Newfoundland

Day 8: Trinity to St. John's

This morning we visit the colourful town of Trinity – a historic fishing village that maintained more character than most over the years. We will take a stroll through time as walk the narrow roads and laneways, visiting old churches and shops along the way.

An adventurous boat tour will take us through the narrow harbour entrance and into Trinity Bay in search of seabirds, whales and maybe even icebergs along the stunning coastlines.

Later this afternoon, we make our way back to St. John’s with time to explore the capital city on your own this evening. Overnight in St. John’s.

Family homes and a lighthouse in Trinity, Newfoundland

Day 9: Departure

Our Newfoundland birding tour with Canadian Geographic ends today and participants can depart anytime.

What to Expect

Early morning birding will be the usual beginning to the day on our Newfoundland birding tour, depending upon the day’s activities. Most days have a small to moderate amount of driving and always make several stops along the way. Several optional early morning or evening excursions may be offered (especially to look for moose, which are more active around dawn and dusk).

The hike to Mistaken Point is relatively flat, but includes some wet and uneven surfaces and is 6 km round trip. Anyone not wanting to do this can spend more time at the visitor's centre and do some other birding nearby.

Weather can be variable; warm cloudless days can alternate with cool foggy days, and we will plan our daily itinerary accordingly. It is a good idea to have footwear that is waterproof. There are two boat trips scheduled; the trip into the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve can be cool, so appropriate layered clothing is recommended. The boats themselves are comfortable, with shelter and lots of seating space, and the captains are usually very entertaining!

Most trails and paths are easy to moderate. Bring mosquito repellent - mosquitoes are not usually a problem anywhere except perhaps in sheltered trails.

Each evening, the list of birds and other wildlife will be reviewed, and plans for the next day discussed.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of joining a tour with Canadian Geographic?
Eagle-Eye Tours and Canadian Geographic partnered in 2022 to develop some amazing tours in Canada and beyond. The Eagle-Eye Tours in-house logistics team still handles all of the details, and we still send one or two of our expert guides, so you can expect the same great experience you would have on our other tours. But in addition, you will be joined by a Canadian Geographic ambassador. The ambassador is selected from among the Society’s Explorers-in-Residence program, or its College of Fellows, or a Can Geo Photographer-in-Residence or Filmmaker-in-Residence. The ambassador serves as an extra resource during your tour. Whereas our EET guides will be expert birders and naturalists, the Can Geo ambassador will contribute insights in other areas such as history, exploration or culture. You will feel an amazing benefit from having these interesting individuals come along on your travels. Guest experiences are further enhanced by a pre-trip virtual meet-and-greet, customized digital libraries from Canadian Geographic’s award-winning story collection, a Can Geo welcome package and, if you choose to subscribe to the magazine, membership in the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. Eagle-Eye Tours standard terms and conditions apply. A portion of the fees from every Canadian Geographic Adventure booked is donated to the Royal Canadian Geographical Society to further its important programming.

Featured Wildlife

While we cannot guarantee sightings of the birds or mammals listed below, we believe that encountering these species is quite likely during this tour.

  • Razorbill
  • Northern Fulmar
  • Black-legged Kittiwake
  • Atlantic Puffin
  • Gray-cheeked Thrush
  • Boreal Chickadee
  • Northern Gannet
  • Thick-billed Murre
  • Moose
  • Several baleen whales

Past Tour Checklists

View the list of birds and other wildlife we encountered on our past tours.

Tour Reviews