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The cliffs to the west and north of Canna; and south of Sanday hold around 15,000 seabirds of 14 different species.

In European terms, the shag colony is probably the most important, formerly representing 2% of the European population, and currently the second largest in Scotland.

The main nest site is in the boulder fields at the western end of Canna (Garisdale), stretching round to the South (The Nunnery) with further sites to the north (Geugasgor).

There are large colonies of Common Guillemots and Razorbills at Geugasgor and the south-west of Canna, while Puffins are mainly confined to some stacs off Sanday.


Seabird Species   1995 2004

Manx Shearwater

  268 2
Northern Fulmar
  1,306 886
European Shag
  2,060 1,080
Common Guillemot
  7,716 6,243
Razorbill   2,104 498
Atlantic Puffin
  1,225 740
Black Guillemot
  85 44
Common Gull
  34 21
Lesser Black-Backed Gull
  78 26
Herring Gull
  2,652 744
Great Black-Backed Gull
  170 88
Black-Legged Kittiwake   1,864 2,680
Great Skua   0 4
Common Tern   6 2


  21,563 15,053
Source: HRG data gathered under contract to JNCC

The figures in the table represent the total breeding birds for each species.

Manx Shearwater numbers have increased since the successful eradication of rats in 2006. 18 birds were heard calling in the colony along the slopes in the centre of the island in 2012.

Numbers of seabirds have been monitored for over 30 years by the Highland Ringing Group which tells us of the health of the colony.

 The north cliffs of Canna


The north cliffs of Canna provide a refuge for several species of seabirds.