IBA Gull and Sandhill Island
Near Matheson Island, Manitoba
Site Summary
MB004 Latitude
52.129° N
97.348° W
217 - 220 m
5.67 km²
deciduous woods (temperate), scrub/shrub, freshwater lake
Land Use:
Potential or ongoing Threats:
Disturbance, Hunting
IBA Criteria: Globally Significant: Congregatory Species, Continentally Significant: Colonial Waterbird/Seabird Concentrations
Conservation status:
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Site Description
Gull and Sandhill Islands IBA is located southwest of Commissioner Island and east of McBeth Point, near the southern end of Lake Winnipeg's northern basin. These islands are sandy and have low elevations; Gull Island rises no more than 3 m above the high water line, and Sandhill Island rises even less. The IBA also includes Nut Island and John’s Island plus their associated reefs. These islands are vegetated with patches of trees, shrubs, and broad expanses of grasses and other herbaceous plants.
In 1998, a total of 3,150 American White Pelican nests were recorded on Gull Island during the late summer. This represented about 1.75% of the world's estimated population, and comprised the largest American White Pelican colony on Lake Winnipeg for that year. A survey in 1997 yielded an estimate of 2,500+ pairs, but this estimate was undoubtedly low since the colony was only visited from a distance by boat to avoid disturbing the birds. An aerial survey by Environment Canada and Climate Change in 2012 estimated 1,719 nesting pairs on John’s Island. Local fishermen report that the pelican colony has moved between islands over the past two decades.

Sandhill Island, which is located to the south, supports large numbers of Common Terns. In 1997, the total number of nesting birds was estimated to be 4,400+ pairs. At the time, this was the largest known colony west of New Brunswick. There are also large numbers of nesting Double-crested Cormorant (1,501 nests in 2012), Caspian Tern (356 nests in 2012) and Ring-billed Gull (646 nests in 2012).

IBA Criteria
SpeciesT | A | I Links Date Season Number G C N
American White Pelican 1998 SU 6,300
Common Tern 1997 SU 8,800
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
These islands, which are owned by the provincial government, have received special status and been declared as provincial Ecological Reserves. Designation as an Ecological Reserve has provided these islands with the greatest possible land-use protection in Manitoba. Access to Ecological Reserves is not permitted without written permission from the Manitoba government. IUCN have categorized such protected areas under category 1a, that being ‘a protected area managed for strict nature protection available primarily for scientific research and/or environmental monitoring’.

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