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Location Canada, Nunavut
Central coordinates 75o 4.77' West  68o 0.07' North
IBA criteria A4i, A4iii
Area 300,000 ha
Year of IBA assessment 2008

Bird Studies Canada/Nature Canada

Site description The Foxe Basin Islands site consists of Prince Charles Island, Air Force Island, and Foley Island. These islands are located in the east-central Foxe Basin, immediately south of central Baffin Island. Their coasts have extensive intertidal mud flats with gently sloping, well-vegetated shorelines. The inland areas, particularly on Prince Charles and Air Force Islands, have low topographic relief and are dotted with small lakes and ponds. A series of beach ridges are also present on the northwest coast of Prince Charles Island. The vegetation on the islands is characterized by rich sedge-grass communities.

Key Biodiversity Globally significant populations of at least nine bird species are present on the Foxe Basin Islands. These species include: Snow Goose (just over 1% of the estimated mid-continent population); Brant (over 15% of the estimated Atlantic (ssp. hrota) population); Sabines Gull (the estimate of 36,053 +/- 5,758 is the largest known concentration in the world the total population for this species is unknown); Semipalmated Sandpiper (approaching 1% of the estimated population); Black-bellied Plover (as much as 9% of the estimated North American population); American Golden-Plover (greater than 2% of the estimated world population); Ruddy Turnstone (as much as 13.8% of the North American estimated population); Red Phalarope (as much as 28% of the estimated world population); and White-rumped Sandpiper (the estimate of 126,162 pairs +/- 34,725, is the largest known breeding concentration in the world, and is perhaps half of the global population of this species). Note that geese numbers include young of the year.

The Foxe Basin Islands have been recognized as a significant nesting area for Atlantic Brant since the first detailed surveys of the Prince Charles and Air Force Island coasts were completed in 1979. Subsequent surveys in the early 1980s also documented large numbers of Sabines Gulls. The magnitude of the nesting shorebird populations was not recognized, however, until detailed remote sensing studies were completed in the late 1980s. Studies to confirm these estimates are currently on-going, with the preliminary results suggesting estimates of the same magnitude for a number of shorebird species.

In 1996 and 1997, 26 bird species were confirmed as breeders on the islands, with another 16 being present but not confirmed as nesting. Nesting King Eiders, Common Eiders, Oldsquaws and Herring Gulls were common along the coast and on inland pools.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Brent Goose Branta bernicla breeding  1996  19,809 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
American Golden Plover Pluvialis dominica breeding  1995  3,452 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola breeding  1995  7,062 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres breeding  1995  23,442 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
White-rumped Sandpiper Calidris fuscicollis breeding  1995  252,324 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Red Phalarope Phalaropus fulicarius breeding  1995  283,198 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Sabine's Gull Xema sabini breeding  1995  36,053 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds breeding  1995-1996  500,000-999,999 individuals  unknown  A4iii   


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Grassland Edaphic grassland; Tundra  -
Wetlands (inland) Intertidal mud, sand or salt flats; Sand dunes and beaches  -

Land use

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

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Foxe Basin Islands. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016

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