Originally, the northern fulmar was an arctic bird, but around 1820 it began to spread southward into the eastern Atlantic, perhaps scavenging from the fisheries. As a breeding bird it reached Atlantic Canada around 1970, and a few pairs now nest in Newfoundland. Most Canadian fulmars, about 400 000 pairs, breed in the eastern Arctic, above 67° north latitude. Alaskan migrants visit BC waters; birds from Greenland and the eastern Atlantic winter off Newfoundland.
Fulmars breed on steep cliffs, laying a single, whitish egg on bare ledges. They defend their nests by vomiting a stinking oil over any intruder.