North American Birds

Atlantic Region2021-03-08T17:46:30-05:00

Atlantic Region

David Seeler, Regional Report Compiler

The region consists of four Canadian Atlantic Provinces and one French Territory. One of the earliest areas of permanent settlement in North America by First Nations peoples, the region was explored by Europeans about 1,000 years before present and then more intensively beginning around 400 years ago. This historical activity has created a region of numerous enriched cultures.

The geology of the region is complex, resulting from a billion years of plate tectonics, with more recent impacts by ice ages. Just off Newfoundland, St. Pierre et Miquelon is an archipelago of eight islands. The southernmost part of the region can be described as a peninsula with numerous associated islands sandwiched between the warmer waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the colder waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Regional water temperature in the Atlantic is moderated by the Gulf Stream and the Labrador Current, which, upon mixing in the waters off Newfoundland, create significant upwelling that provide rich food resources.

The region is rimmed by a coastline of 32,362 kilometers, along with islands, sea cliffs, coastal beaches, dune systems, mudflats, salt and fresh water marshes, bays, inlets, harbors, and wetlands; here one finds 48% of the breeding species in the region. The elevation reaches 1,652 meters inland, where one finds Acadian, mixed coniferous–broadleaf, and boreal forests interspersed with taiga, lakes, rivers, and agricultural lands, providing the environment required by the remainder of the breeding species in the region.

Nova Scotia and Newfoundland are renowned for their high incidence of vagrants. Weather and the Atlantic Ocean play major roles, as does the Bay of Fundy, a major funnel for migratory species both in spring and fall. The clash of the Gulf Stream and the Labrador Current provides food for massive seabird colonies on Newfoundland and its surrounding islands.

The ABA gratefully acknowledges the contributions of Atlantic Region regional editor David Seeler to promoting knowledge and understanding about the birdlife of the continent.

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