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Location Canada, British Columbia
Central coordinates 124o 44.59' West  49o 28.35' North
IBA criteria A4i
Area 10,000 ha
Year of IBA assessment 2008

Bird Studies Canada/Nature Canada

Site description 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 the Courtenay River estuary at the head of Comox Harbour, to Deep Bay and Mapleguard Point, approximately 35 kilometres to the southeast. Chrome Island is situated off the southern point of Denman Island, and is also 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 support a shellfish industry, that comprise the most important area in the province for oyster mariculture. 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.

Key Biodiversity The Baynes Sound area is important for winter populations of waterfowl 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. Maximum single day counts at this site during surveys in 1980 1981 recorded significant numbers of the following species (unless noted otherwise the percentage of the estimated global population is in parentheses): Pacific Loons (2% of a conservative North American estimate), Western Grebe (at most 8%), Great Blue Heron (ssp. fannini 2%), Trumpeter Swan (1% of the Pacific population), Brant (4% of the western ssp. nigricans), Black Turnstone (4%), Mew Gull (2.5% of North American population), Thayer's Gull (2%), Glaucous-winged Gull (>1%). Additionally, over 2% of the estimated national population of Pelagic Cormorants were recorded at this site.

Other birds recorded at this site include 138 Common Murres, 426 Black-bellied Plovers, 350 Bald Eagles, as well as concentrations of more than 50 Marbled Murrelets (nationally threatened). Ten gull and tern species, 19 species of shorebirds, 16 species of diving ducks (such as White-winged, Surf and Black scoters), nine species of dabbling ducks, and 13 species of raptors have been recorded in the Baynes Sound area. Concentrations of diving ducks have reached 12,185.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Brent Goose Branta bernicla passage  1981  5,291 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Western Grebe Aechmophorus occidentalis winter  1983  15,174 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Black Turnstone Arenaria melanocephala winter  1981  3,093 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Glaucous-winged Gull Larus glaucescens winter  1981  6,250 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Thayer's Gull Larus thayeri winter  1981  257 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Boyle Point Provincial Park 125 protected area overlaps with site 38  
Qualicum National Wildlife Area 82 protected area overlaps with site 71  
Rosewall Creek Provincial Park 54 protected area contained by site 60  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Wetlands (inland) Estuarine waters; Intertidal mud, sand or salt flats; Salt/brackish marshes  -
Sea Open sea; Sea inlets  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture minor
fisheries/aquaculture major
rangeland/pastureland minor
tourism/recreation major
urban/industrial/transport minor

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Baynes Sound. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016

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