IBA McFadden Creek Heronry
Saltspring Island, British Columbia
Site Summary
BC001 Latitude
48.922° N
123.559° W
0 - 20 m
0.51 km²
deciduous woods (temperate)
Land Use:
Potential or ongoing Threats:
Disturbance, Urban/industrial development
IBA Criteria: Nationally Significant: Congregatory Species
Conservation status: IBA Conservation Plan written/being written, Wild Bird Trust of British Columbia
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Site Description
The McFadden Creek Heronry is located on the north side of Saltspring Island. The 5 ha site is fully forested with mature second growth. The heronry is located in a deciduous grove in the centre of the site with the majority of the nest trees being trembling aspen. Nests are also located in Douglas-fir, red alder, bigleaf maple, and black cottonwood. McFadden Creek, which flows year round, is located to the north of the heronry. It empties into a small estuary to the northwest. The habitats surrounding the colony are mostly rural residential. A horse pasture is located immediately to the west of the property, and the property to the east is a mix of forest and open space.
This site has been identified as an Important Bird Area due to the presence of a large Great Blue Heron (ssp. fannini) colony. In 1996, the McFadden Creek heronry contained 118 nests. It became established in 1990 and has subsequently increased to its current size. Due to urbanization and agriculture practices, suitable nesting areas near foraging areas are becoming increasingly rare.

The fannini ssp of the Great Blue Heron is primarily restricted to southwest British Columbia and adjacent Washington State. Its global population is estimated to be approximately 5,000 pairs with 2,400 pairs nesting in British Columbia. In this context, the McFadden Creek heronry contains approximately 2.4% of the population and 5% of the Canadian population. In Canada, the fannini ssp. Of the Great Blue Heron has also been designated as nationally vulnerable (1997). As such, this site meets the criteria for identification as a continentally significant IBA under the Congregatory Species category and as a nationally significant IBA under the Threatened Species category.

Additional ornithological information for this site is limited.

IBA Criteria
SpeciesT | A | I Links Date Season Number G C N
Great Blue Heron 1996 - 2000 SU 236 - 276
Note: species shown in bold indicate that the maximum number exceeds at least one of the IBA thresholds (sub-regional, regional or global). The site may still not qualify for that level of IBA if the maximum number reflects an exceptional or historical occurrence.
Conservation Issues
Over the past two decades there has been a dramatic increase in human population on Saltspring Island. It has been growing at a rate of more than 4% annually. The associated forest clearing, urbanization, and human use of the shoreline has already lead to the abandonment of several heronries. Until recently, the McFadden Creek heronry was the largest unprotected heronry, not only on Saltspring Island, but also in the Pacific Northwest.

The Wild Bird Trust in British Columbia (WBTBC) has recently (December, 1998) finalized the purchase agreement. The initial funds were raised through the Great Blue Heron Foster Parent Program, and the balance was contributed by the British Columbia Provincial Government. The Waterbird Watch Collective (200 residents of Saltspring Island who monitor bird populations on and around the island) will provide day to day wardening and the Canadian Wildlife Service will serve as advisors for the future management of this site.

The IBA Program is an international conservation initiative coordinated by BirdLife International. The Canadian co-partners for the IBA Program are Birds Canada and Nature Canada.
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