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Location Canada, Northwest Territories
Central coordinates 135o 30.14' West  69o 19.85' North
IBA criteria A4i, A4iii
Area 370,000 ha
Year of IBA assessment 2008

Bird Studies Canada/Nature Canada

Site description The Mackenzie River delta is an immense area of low-lying waters and deltaic islands that is situated just east of the Yukon/Northwest Territories border along the coast. The area includes Shallow Bay, Olivier, Ellice, Pelly and Kendall islands, as well as part of Richards Island. Much of the area is covered by fluvial deposits of silt and sand. The islands are generally marshy and covered in sedges, grasses, and horsetail, but there are shrubs in higher areas. Levees have formed along the shores of islands as a result of spring flooding. The lowlands of Richards Island are dotted with numerous lakes and ponds and contain several pingos. More than 5,000 Beluga Whales calve in the Mackenzie River estuary, and the outer islands support a significant population of Barren-ground Grizzly Bears.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Greater White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons passage  1974  23,700 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Snow Goose Anser caerulescens passage  1975  323,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Brent Goose Branta bernicla passage  1974  6,112 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Tundra Swan Cygnus columbianus breeding  1995  2,500 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds passage  20,000-49,999 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Kendall Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary 60,900 protected area overlaps with site 49,000  
Kugaluk River Migratory Bird Sanctuary 14,172 protected area overlaps with site 7,500  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Wetlands (inland) Inland deltas  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
not utilised major

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Mackenzie River Delta. Downloaded from on 24/10/2014

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