IBA Gros Morne National Park
Rocky Harbour, Newfoundland
Site Summary
NF045 Latitude
49.631° N
57.736° W
0 - 806 m
1,865.12 km²
coniferous forest (boreal/alpine), deciduous woods (boreal/alpine), mixed woods (boreal/alpine), alpine grassland, rivers/streams, fen, mud or sand flats (saline), freshwater lake, freshwater marsh, bog, open sea, inlets/coastal features (marine), coastal cliffs/rocky shores (marine), cliffs/rocky shores (inland), scree/boulders
Land Use:
Potential or ongoing Threats:
IBA Criteria: Nationally Significant: Restricted Range Species
Conservation status: National Park
Restricted access for IBA coordinators
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Site Description
Gros Morne National Park, on the western coast of Newfoundland, is a large park known for its spectacular scenery. It has a combination of mountainous barrens, forests, and diverse coastal lowlands. In mountainous areas, extensive areas of open and rocky ground are found at the higher elevations, while at lower elevations boreal forest tree species, such as spruce and fir, are present. Gros Morne Mountain at 806 m is the second highest point in Newfoundland. Long fiord-like inlets and lakes create a dramatic contrast to the rolling mountains. Unlike Gros Morne Mountain and the surrounding hills, the Tablelands area is almost without vegetation. The ancient peridotite rock found at this unique feature was formed in the Earths mantle and is chemically inhospitable to plants. The presence of this feature as well as others, was the reason behind the designation of Gros Morne National Park as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. Arctic Hare and the Newfoundland Caribou are two of the highland mammals that can be seen in Gros Morne National Park.

In the lowlands, diverse bog, meadow, shrub and coastal plant communities are found. For instance, near Bakers Brook Pond and Western Brook Pond are bogs containing Bakeapple, Leafy White Orchis, Pitcher Plant, iris, cranberry and heath plants. The coastal environments range from sandy beaches of dune grass to coastal cliffs to cobble beaches.

Not surprisingly a park of this size with its varied habitats is host to many species of birds in total, 207 bird species have been recorded here. One of the most notable is the Rock Ptarmigan subspecies welchi. Other subspecies breed in the arctic, but this subspecies finds suitable habitat atop the mountains of Gros Morne National Park and a few other regions of Newfoundland. This subspecies has a range of less than 50,000 km² in Canada, which qualifies it for the restricted-range category of the IBA program. Two other restricted-range species found in the park are the Red Crossbill subspecies pusilla and the Ovenbird subspecies furvoir. The Red Crossbill is found sparsely across coniferous forests while the Ovenbird is found in deciduous woods in summer.

Small but noteworthy numbers of breeding Harlequin Ducks are found on inaccessible rivers in the park. A partial survey in 1997 revealed 11 Harlequin Ducks.

IBA Criteria
SpeciesT | A | I Links Date Season Number G C N
Black-headed Gull 2008 - 2011 SU 10 - 20
Black-headed Gull 1991 - 2012 WI 5 - 10
Dovekie 1990 - 2006 WI 10 - 26
Great Black-backed Gull 2014 - 2015 WI 2,050 - 2,548
Iceland Gull (glaucoides/kumlieni) 1991 WI 801
Piping Plover 2012 - 2013 SU 4
Note: species shown in bold indicate that the maximum number exceeds at least one of the IBA thresholds (sub-regional, regional or global). The site may still not qualify for that level of IBA if the maximum number reflects an exceptional or historical occurrence.
Conservation Issues
Because Gros Morne National Park is a federal park it is fully protected. There are no known threats, although it is worth noting the occasional occurrence of fire, Hemlock Looper and Spruce Budworm, all of which are natural phenomena that can change the forest to the advantage of some birds and the disadvantage of others. So far there is no sign of recreational over-development or overuse, but this is a potential problem with a park as popular as Gros Morne.

The IBA Program is an international conservation initiative coordinated by BirdLife International. The Canadian co-partners for the IBA Program are Birds Canada and Nature Canada.
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