Île aux Canes Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Importance of the Migratory Bird Sanctuary | Access and Activities | Map of the Area | Summary Table | Contact Information

Male Common Eider
Photo: © Thinkstockphotos.ca. Male Common Eider.

Île aux Canes Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) is located in the District of Strait of Belle Isle, off the northeast coast of Newfoundland, and is locally known as Green Island. It includes all the water surrounding the island, the small inlets and rocks. Marsh cordgrass and cow-parsnip are the major vegetation species on the island. The upland area supports predominantly low-growing ericaceous shrubs such as crowberry that tolerate acidic soil.

Except for the southeast side, the island is low-lying and slopes very gradually towards the sea. The low-lying portion makes up 60% of the total area and has an overburden of rich organic matter. Surrounding waters are quite shallow, with depths generally less than 5 m, and there are numerous shoals, submerged rocks and islets. The intertidal and subtidal zones constitute ideal feeding habitats for Common Eider in that they support a variety of marine invertebrates that serve as important food for young birds.

Importance of the Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Île aux Canes MBS supports nesting colonies of Common Eider, which require isolated locations. These birds normally nest on offshore islands that limit their geographical distribution. Together with Shepherd Island, Île aux Canes MBS is one of the largest breeding sites for the Common Eider in insular Newfoundland.

This MBS, along with nearby Shepherd Island, is the only site where the number of breeding pairs of Common Eider has been increasing in recent years, although predation by fox and Polar Bear has recently been a problem. Numbers of nests increased from 12 in 1975 to 350 in 1988, and again to the present estimate of 1291 in 2001. The gently sloping bedrock "ramps" allow easy access for flightless young birds, and the area has an abundance of marine invertebrates, including blue mussels, periwinkles, whelks and amphipods. Surrounding shoals also reduce wave energy on waters where the young birds first feed. There would appear to be a potential carrying capacity of up to 5000 nests according to the Protection Plan for Green and Shepherd Islands (1988).

Access and Activities

MBSs are established for the protection and conservation of migratory birds. Activities that could harm migratory birds, their nests or their eggs are prohibited.

MBSs can be and have been established on private, provincial, territorial and federally owned lands. Access to each MBS varies by site and is at the discretion of the landowner and land manager.

Where MBSs are located on federal land, Environment and Climate Change Canada is responsible for the management and protection of migratory birds, nests, eggs and habitat. Where MBSs are located on provincial land, Environment and Climate Change Canada is responsible for the protection of migratory birds and their nests, while the chief game officer of the province is responsible for the management of habitat. Where MBSs are located on private or municipal land, Environment and Climate Change Canada is responsible for the protection of migratory birds and their nests. Habitat management is the responsibility of the landowner.

The standard prohibitions under the Migratory Bird Sanctuary Regulations apply to Île aux Canes MBS: hunting migratory birds is prohibited, and no person shall disturb, destroy or take the nest of a migratory bird or have in his or her possession a live migratory bird, or a carcass, skin, nest or egg of a migratory bird, except under the authority of a permit issued by Environment and Climate Change Canada or unless authorized by the Regulations. Possession of firearms or other hunting appliances is prohibited. Dogs and cats must not be allowed to run at large.

Access prohibitions or restrictions by the MBS landowner (Province of Newfoundland and Labrador) may also apply.

For more information on entry, activities and permits in MBSs, please visit the Management and Activities section of the Migratory Bird Sanctuaries website. For more information on Environment and Climate Change Canada's protected areas, please contact the regional office.

For greater certainty, nothing in this document shall be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from the protection provided for existing Aboriginal or treaty rights of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada by the recognition and affirmation of those rights in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

Map of the Area

Long description for the Map

Map showing the location of the Île aux Canes Migratory Bird Sanctuary in relation to Newfoundland, Bell Island, Île aux Canes and the Labrador Sea. The map shows the boundaries of the sanctuary, which covers Île aux Canes as well as a portion of the surrounding waters in the Labrador Sea. The scale of the map is in hundreds of meters.

This map is for illustrative purposes only and should not be used to define legal boundaries. Île aux Canes MBS can also be viewed using Google Maps. Please note that the Google map is a complementary source of information and does not represent the official map or site name.

Summary Table

Summary Table for Île aux Canes Migratory Bird Sanctuary
CategoryInformation
Protected Area designationMigratory Bird Sanctuary
Province or territoryNewfoundland and Labrador
Latitude/longitude50°42' N, 55°36'40" W
Size in hectares (ha)162 ha
Date created (Gazetted)1991
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Management CategoryIa - Strict Nature Reserve
Additional designationsPart of Bell Island South Coast Important Bird Area
Main habitat typeThe island is low-lying, sloping very gradually into the sea, and makes up 60% of the total area. It has an overburden of rich organic matter. Surrounding waters are quite shallow, with depths generally less than 5 m, and there are numerous shoals, submerged rocks and islets, with intertidal and subtidal zones.
Key bird speciesCommon Eider
Listed species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA)None
Management agencyCanadian Wildlife Service, Atlantic Region
LandownerProvince of Newfoundland and Labrador

Contact Information

Environment and Climate Change Canada - Atlantic Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas Program
17 Waterfowl Lane
Sackville NB E4L 1G6
Toll Free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
Email: ec.enviroinfo.ec@canada.ca
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