This page on birds of Prince Edward Island provides a short description of birds of this island with anecdotes, photos and videos. According to the 2014 edition of the Field Checklist of Birds for Prince Edward Island, 368 bird species have be observed on PEI at one time or another. An impressive number for the size of the island! PEI is an attractive environment for shore birds and seabirds in particular, due to its 800 kilometers (500 miles) of shoreline in the southern portion of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. These two categories of birds total around 158 species.
To access the information and photos/videos for any specific bird, please click on the letter of their English name below:
For a list of all the birds on this website, please check the Bird Index page.
If you are looking for the birds of Prince Edward Island, please click on this alphabetical index below:
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND BIRD INDEX
For a TAXONOMIC list of Birds on PEI, please click here.
PEI is also located on the migratory route of many bird species. Some birds migrate completely out of their summer range, others will only migrate from the northern part of their summer range to the southern part. Other birds are permanent residents, and even this number can vary over the years, depending on the severity of the winter, which would understandably make sources of food harder to find.
Still other birds are rare visitors or ‘vagrants’, such as when a pelican ends up in PEI following a post tropical storm for example.
Prince Edward Island is a largely rural province with a small population, so there are still lots of green spaces – PEI is called the ‘Green Island’ for a reason – which offer a favorable environment for birds.
The birds presented are thus only a small proportion of the possible total of species that can be observed on the island, and probably the easiest to see, especially when a feeder is provided. Many people feed the birds, especially in the winter.
This page on Birds of Prince Edward Island contains photos from other contributors. Authorship is credited on the photos of the contributing persons :
Lynda Andrews, Charlottetown
Jodi Arsenault, Roseville
Matt Beardsley, Charlottetown
Don Jardine, Winsloe South
Michele Lawlor, Stratford
John Read, Dunedin
Chris Rice, Charlottetown
Marie Smith, Summerside
Richard Smith, Summerside
Sleep in birds
The four sanderlings sleeping near the edge of the water (see the page for ‘S’ for their photo) are standing on one leg, a position frequently used by birds. Resting on one leg apparently helps birds conserve heat, as their legs have no feathers. Birds will also tuck their bill under a wing when sleeping.
However in the case of the four sanderlings, another behavior can be observed while they’re ‘sleeping’ – three of them (at least the ones we can see) have one eye open. This is likely showing ‘unihemispheric slow-wave sleep’ (USWS), a behavior which allows some birds to have half their brain asleep while the other is awake. This has obviously a high survival value, as a bird with such a sleep feature can check for predators while resting. Apparently some birds also use USWS in migratory flights, but the latter needs more studying.
One more note: birds – especially the migratory ones – know no geopolitical frontiers, so they can be found in vast areas, overlapping provincial and country boundaries.