Sable Island IBA
Sable Island IBA’s migratory bird concentrations and species at risk need on-site stewardship and legal habitat protection within a National Wildlife Area.
The word “sandbar” cannot convey the majesty of Sable Island’s biodiversity. Over 330 bird species have been sighted here, including virtually the entire breeding population of Ipswich Savannah Sparrows. Thousands of Arctic and Common Tern nest on site, as do thousands of Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls, which prey on the terns’ young with alarming success. The sandbar supports more than 175 plant species and 600 catalogued invertebrates. The marine areas support diverse mammals, including 16,000 breeding Grey Seals. Sable Island’s only terrestrial mammals—and its most controversial and famous residents—are several hundred wild and unmanaged horses.
Sable Island is a highly valued and restricted site, with no imminent threats. However, as the Sable Island Station faces closure, the potential for inappropriate land use looms larger. Uncontrolled access would disturb nesting birds and accelerate erosion of the sandbar. A continued human presence is needed to safeguard the site, prevent and respond to ship-sourced oil pollution, and monitor the fragile dynamic between rising gull and diminishing tern populations. To achieve this, Nature Canada is working with local land stewards to promote Sable Island IBA for designation as a National Wildlife Area, and protect this special place in perpetuity.
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Download more fact sheets about Canada’s IBAs or call 1-800-267-4088 ext. 241 to request one.