IBA Tracadie Bay and Sandspit
Tracadie, New Brunswick
Site Summary
NB014 Latitude
47.551° N
64.881° W
0 - 5 m
47.77 km²
salt marshes/brackish marshes, tidal rivers/estuaries, mud or sand flats (saline), coastal sand dunes & beaches, inlets/coastal features (marine)
Land Use:
Fisheries/aquaculture, Tourism/recreation
Potential or ongoing Threats:
Disturbance, Industrial pollution, Other decline in habitat quality, Recreation/tourism
IBA Criteria: Nationally Significant: Threatened Species
Conservation status: IBA Conservation Plan written/being written
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Site Description
This site is characterized by an 8 km stretch of barrier beaches with several wash-overs and sand dunes along the eastern shores of northeastern New Brunswick. The barrier beaches enclose Tracadie Bay, which is 20 km² in size and is fed by the Little Tracadie River. Located at the mouth of this river is the town of Tracadie, which is 4 km west of the southern edge of the main sandspit. The Pointe-à-Bouleau IBA is located just to the south of Tracadie. It and Green Point, which is located just to the north of Tracadie, have been treated separately because of different land use patterns.
The Tracadie Bay and Sandspit support a significant population of the globally vulnerable (nationally endangered) Piping Plover. During the 1996 International Piping Plover census, a total of 12 birds was recorded, which represented about 2.8% of the Atlantic Canada Piping Plover population. Over an 11- year period (1987 to 1997) an average of 14.3 adult Piping Plovers was found at this site.

In addition to Piping Plovers, the Tracadie Bay and Sandspit is also utilized by staging waterfowl and shorebirds. In the fall, several hundred Canada Geese and thousands of shorebirds, such as Semipalmated Sandpipers and Semipalmated Plovers are recorded. On some fall outings, in excess of 200 Ruddy Turnstones and 300 White-rumped Sandpipers have been observed.

Small numbers of Atlantic Brant (e.g., < 100) are also regularly recorded at Tracadie. Historically, this region was used much more heavily during the spring and fall Brant migration with as many as 20,000 Brant using this migration route in the 1920s. However, by the mid-1930s, Brant began to shift from their coastal migration route, through the Maritimes, to a more direct route, between James Bay and New Jersey (likely as a result of a collapse in the traditional food supply). Fall migration through the Maritimes virtually ceased by the 1940s.

In addition to the birds mentioned above, several Osprey can be seen fishing in the bays and inlets of the Tracadie region.

IBA Criteria
SpeciesT | A | I Links Date Season Number G C N
Barrow's Goldeneye 2017 FA 80
Barrow's Goldeneye 2013 - 2015 WI 58 - 68
Piping Plover 1992 - 2017 FA 4 - 9
Piping Plover 2016 SP 4 - 8
Piping Plover 1987 - 2017 SU 4 - 22
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 Piper Project / Projet siffleur is a special project of the New Brunswick Federation of Naturalists. Its objectives are to protect and educate the public about coastal ecosystems, especially Piping Plover habitat. In consultation with the Canadian Wildlife Service, the Piper Project has been completing annual Piping Plover surveys at this site. These surveys have led to the identification of the Tracadie Sandspit as a Core Site in the New Brunswick Piping Plover Atlas. Core sites are those areas that need to be protected to ensure the continued survival and recovery of Piping Plovers in New Brunswick.

The Tracadie beaches receive a considerable amount of recreational beach use during the summer months. Nesting Piping Plovers are sensitive to disturbance and such recreational activities can result in nest abandonment and reduced productivity.

Another concern is the increasing number of squatters that build cottages in the dunes and frequent these areas during the summer months. Squatters have many adverse effects on the nesting Piping Plover. In many cases, considerable amounts of garbage have been dumped and this has the potential to attract nest predators such as foxes and gulls. Furthermore, the increase in the number of people on the sandspit disturbs the birds and leads to nest abandonment.

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