IBA Englefield Bay Islands
Haida Gwaii, British Columbia
Site Summary
BC016 Latitude
52.987° N
132.405° W
0 - 120 m
118.01 km²
coniferous forest (temperate), scrub/shrub
Land Use:
Not Utilized (Natural Area)
Potential or ongoing Threats:
Introduced species, Oil slicks
IBA Criteria: Globally Significant: Congregatory Species, Colonial Waterbirds/Seabird Concentrations, Nationally Significant: Threatened Species
Conservation status:
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Site Description
Englefield Bay is situated on the northwest coast of Moresby Island, at the mouths of Moore and Inskip channels. Two clusters of islands within the bay support nesting seabirds: to the north, Saunders, Helgesen, Willie, Carswell, Lihou islands and Bone Point; and to the south, Luxmoore and Rogers islands, Moresby Islets, and Cape Kuper. These islands support the only major nesting concentration of seabirds along this section of rugged coastline.

The larger islands are forested with a mix of sitka spruce, western hemlock and western red cedar. The smaller islands support spruce and some hemlock, with more extensive areas of forbes and grasses than the larger islands. The three largest islands in the group, Helgesen (54 ha), Lihou (75 ha) and Saunders (55 ha) are rugged and precipitous, bound by cliffs and deeply dissected by gorges and crevices that effectively divide the islands into segments.

The islands in Englefield Bay support significant populations of nesting seabirds. At least two species were present in globally significant numbers during surveys completed in 1986: Rhinoceros Auklets (3.2% of the global and 5.5% of the national population) and Ancient Murrelets, (3.7% of the global and 7% of the national population). Ancient Murrelets have been designated as a Nationally Vulnerable species. Cassin's Auklets and Pigeon Guillemots are also present in numbers just over 1% of their estimated national populations.

Although separate estimates for nesting Fork-tailed and Leach's Storm-Petrel were not obtained during the 1986 surveys, the combined estimate of 48,550 pairs is likely of continental significance for Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel and of national significance for the eastern Pacific Leach's Storm-Petrel population. In addition, nesting Black Oystercatchers are present in numbers approaching national significance. Other species of seabirds nesting there include Pelagic Cormorants, Glaucous-winged Gulls and Tufted Puffins. Bald Eagles nest on most of the islands, and Peregrine Falcons (ssp. pealei) are in the area.

IBA Criteria
SpeciesT | A | I Links Date Season Number G C N
Ancient Murrelet 1986 SU 37,340
Cassin's Auklet 1986 SU 31,740
Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel 1986 SU 48,550
Rhinoceros Auklet 1986 SU 39,340
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
The primary threats to the area, and to the seabirds that nest there, are the spread of introduced predators (particularly raccoons) from the adjacent shores, and potential oil spills. Saunders Island once had an extensive colony of Rhinoceros Auklets and Cassin's Auklets, but it had declined before the 1986 surveys. Although the cause of the decline (abandonment) is not known, it is likely as a result of introduced predators. Raccoons reached adjacent Helgesen Island in the past decade and have devastated the breeding seabirds there. Control measures to remove raccoons from Helgesen Island are undertaken on a yearly basis.

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.
   © Birds Canada