IBA Quoddy Region
Wilson's Beach/Plage Wilson, New Brunswick
Site Summary
NB037 Latitude
44.944° N
66.935° W
0 m
129.96 km²
open sea, inlets/coastal features (marine)
Land Use:
Potential or ongoing Threats:
Disturbance, Fisheries, Oil slicks
IBA Criteria: Globally Significant: Congregatory Species, Colonial Waterbirds/Seabird Concentrations, Shorebird Concentrations
Conservation status:
Restricted access for IBA coordinators
Login name: Password:


View in mobile

Site Description
The Quoddy region IBA is a body of seawater, primarily in Canadian waters, found in southern coastal New Brunswick. The IBA encompasses all the waters in an area roughly bounded by: Eastport, Maine, the west side of Campobello Island to East Quoddy Head, White Horse Island, and the east side of Deer Island to Deer Island Point. This includes an area called Head Harbour Passage. Upwellings and areas of high productivity occur here because of strong currents created by the narrow passages that lead through to Passamaquoddy Bay.
Large feeding congregations of several species of waterbirds are found in the Quoddy region in the late summer, fall, and winter. During fall migration, globally significant numbers of Bonapartes Gulls pass through the region. The migration of the species is drawn out, with non-breeding birds arriving in the Quoddy region as early as June and a several hundred gulls lingering as late as January. Birds arrive in a succession of waves, and remain in the area for several weeks, during which time they substantially increase their body weight, and molt body and flight feathers. A boat survey in December 1998 found 6,030 gulls near Head Harbour Passage, while in the late summer of the same year, a minimum of 3,500 Bonapartes Gulls were observed and an estimated 5,300 were thought to be present. These numbers are between 1 and 2% of the global population. Additionally, estimates from the early 1980s indicate that this species may peak at 10,000 birds in the late summer, while an even higher recent estimate of over 25,000 Bonapartes Gulls comes from November 1997.

December also brings impressive numbers of other larids. Christmas Bird Counts based out of Eastport recorded an average of 5,175 Herring Gulls and 1,393 Great Black-backed Gulls over the 1995-1999 period. The vast majority of these birds were within the IBA. The Herring Gull average includes 14,531 birds that were seen in 1996; this was an unusual year, when an exceptionally high peak of 65,637 Black-legged Kittiwakes were also seen. Typical early winter numbers of kittiwakes are usually in the hundreds or low thousands. The averages above represent 1 or 2% of the North American Herring Gull population and 1% of the North American Great Black-backed Gull population. Long-tailed Duck, Common Eider, and all three scoter species, are other common wintering birds.

Immense numbers of Red-necked Phalaropes congregated in the Quoddy region until the mid-1980s. Estimated numbers ranged from the hundreds of thousands to a million. A primary food source of the phalaropes was a large copepod (Calinus finmarchicus), which will swarm at the surface of the water. It is not known if the reason that large numbers of phalaropes have not been seen since the early 1980s is due to a change in this food source or for some other reason.

IBA Criteria
SpeciesT | A | I Links Date Season Number G C N
Black-headed Gull 1995 WI 22
Black-legged Kittiwake 1996 WI 65,637
Bonaparte's Gull 1985 - 2019 FA 3,000 - 25,000
Bonaparte's Gull 2017 SU 5,000
Bonaparte's Gull 1998 - 2011 WI 3,000 - 6,030
Great Black-backed Gull 1993 - 1997 WI 1,844 - 2,932
Herring Gull 2009 - 2015 FA 3,000 - 5,000
Herring Gull 1993 - 2020 WI 3,056 - 14,531
Little Gull 2008 - 2020 FA 2 - 4
Little Gull 2009 - 2011 WI 2 - 3
Manx Shearwater 2012 FA 36 - 80
Manx Shearwater 2012 SU 8 - 44
Razorbill 2016 WI 1,000
Red-necked Phalarope 1971 - 1983 FA 35,000 - 2,000,000
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
It will be crucial to understand the causes of the large fluctuations in surface feeders seen at this site before any conservation efforts can be undertaken in the Quoddy region.

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