IBA Baynes Sound
Courtenay, British Columbia
Site Summary
BC057 Latitude
49.535° N
124.812° W
0 m
100.87 km²
salt marshes/brackish marshes, tidal rivers/estuaries, mud or sand flats (saline), open sea
Land Use:
Fisheries/aquaculture, Tourism/recreation
Potential or ongoing Threats:
Fisheries, Industrial pollution, Other increased mortality
IBA Criteria: Globally Significant: Congregatory Species, Continentally Significant: Congregatory Species, Nationally Significant: Congregatory Species, Shorebird Concentrations
Conservation status: IBA Conservation Plan written/being written
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Site Description
Comox Valley IBA, Baynes Sound IBA and Lambert Channel/Hornby Island Waters IBA share common populations of waterbirds but were established as separate IBAs because they were nominated independently. In 2013, these sites were amalgamated into the K'omoks IBA; follow this link for current information for this area.

Baynes Sound is situated between the east coast of Vancouver Island and Denman Island in the Strait of Georgia in southwestern British Columbia. This site extends from Comox Harbour to Deep Bay and Mapleguard Point, approximately 30 km to the southeast. Chrome Island is situated off the southern point of Denman Island, and is included in the IBA. Baynes Sound is a shallow coastal channel fringed by protected bays, open foreshore, tidal estuaries, inshore marshes and adjacent forests. Comox Harbour, which bounds Baynes Sound on the northwest, is a large low gradient deltaic deposit. Together these protected waters and their many freshwater streams function as a single estuary. The shoreline, much of which is in a relatively natural condition, ranges from wide expanses of mud and sand flats to rocky shorelines overlooking deep water. The key habitats are a series of low gradient deltas, sand and gravel beaches, tidal flats, estuaries and foreshore. The Sound has several small bays that comprise the most important area in the province for oyster mariculture and support a shellfish industry. The surrounding land is a mixture of undeveloped second growth forest, areas of commercial pasture and cropland, small farms, urban and suburban development and light industry.

The Baynes Sound area is important for winter populations of waterbirds and shorebirds, and for summer-moulting seaducks. The presence of spawning herring during early spring is an important food source for many bird species occurring in the area. Continentally important numbers of Black Brant occur during spring migration. Western Grebe occurred at globally significant levels most years from 1975 to 1988, but has decreased in numbers since then. The area is also an important feeding area for Surf Scoter, Glaucous-winged Gull, Mew Gull, and Thayer's Gull.

IBA Criteria
SpeciesT | A | I Links Date Season Number G C N
Black Oystercatcher 1995 - 2015 WI 78 - 192
Black Turnstone 2004 FA 1,000
Black Turnstone 1981 WI 3,093
Brant 1981 - 2012 SP 5,291 - 15,501
Glaucous-winged Gull 2001 - 2017 SP 7,000 - 15,000
Glaucous-winged Gull 1981 WI 6,250
Great Blue Heron 1998 - 1999 SP 35
Great Blue Heron 1981 SU 136
Great Blue Heron 1994 - 2007 WI 35
Greater Scaup 2010 SP 5,000
Heermann's Gull 2006 - 2009 SP 35 - 335
Heermann's Gull 2008 WI 61
Iceland Gull (Thayer's) 2011 - 2016 FA 100 - 200
Iceland Gull (Thayer's) 2000 OT 1,104
Iceland Gull (Thayer's) 2000 - 2015 SP 97 - 1,000
Iceland Gull (Thayer's) 1981 - 2017 WI 77 - 1,367
Marbled Murrelet 1981 OT 50
Marbled Murrelet 2008 SP 48
Red-necked Grebe 2007 - 2016 FA 358 - 601
Short-billed Gull 2001 OT 11,844
Short-billed Gull 2001 - 2017 SP 6,025 - 9,000
Surf Scoter 2003 - 2010 SP 15,000 - 25,000
Trumpeter Swan 2014 WI 279
Waterbirds 2010 WI 41,336
Western Grebe 1981 - 1983 WI 10,356 - 15,174
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
Baynes Sound has long been recognized as an important area for waterbirds, salmon, herring and shellfish. The east coast of Vancouver Island has experienced rapid housing development in the past few years. The greatest threat to birds in Baynes Sound is the destruction or degradation of habitat (in particular coastal wetlands) by urban development. Runoff from sewage and suburban storm sewers threaten the water quality and disturbance from increased recreational activities also poses a threat to bird populations using the area.

A Conservation Plan was written.

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