|Central coordinates||94o 39.62' West 60o 49.87' North|
|IBA criteria||A4i, A4iii|
|Altitude||0 - 60m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2008|
Site description The McConnell River site is a large area of primarily coastal habitat situated on the west coast of Hudson Bay about 50 km north of the Manitoba border. It is a primarily flat landscape composed of coastal sedge marshes, which in some locations, extend as far as 8 km inland. Beyond the coastal marshes there are low hills interspersed with lakes and ponds. Austin Island is the only area containing rocky outcrops. The Thlewiaza River is the south border of the site; the Maguse River is the north border, and the McConnell River runs through the middle. The small coastal community of Arviat is located in the middle of the site. Numerous large mammals are found here, including the Kaminuriak herd of Barren-ground Caribou, which winter as far north as Arviat. Ringed Seals, White Whales and Polar Bears use the coastal and offshore waters.
Key Biodiversity The McConnell River coastal marshes and adjacent inland areas are of great importance for an impressive number of Snow Geese. In 1997, just over 150,000 geese bred in the sedge marshes. This is 3 % of all Snow Geese, and about 4 % of the late 1990s population of Lesser Snow Geese that breeds in the low arctic from James Bay to Victoria Island. This Snow Goose colony is unusual in that it is the only large colony that has actually decreased over the last two decades, unlike most Snow Goose colonies that have increased immensely in numbers. In 1985, 436,400 birds bred here. After breeding, in mid August, the geese move inland to ponds and lakes to feed and moult. In 1973, 1,300,000 snow geese were recorded at McConnell River during this post-breeding season. This number would include young of the year, successful breeding birds as well as non-breeding birds. By mid September most geese have left the area. Another white goose, the Ross Goose, also breeds at McConnell River. In 1997 or 1998, about 50,000 Ross Geese were counted. This is the about 5% of the worlds population of this species that only breeds in a few locations in the Canadian Arctic.
The McConnell River area also hosts breeding Canada Geese and Sandhill Cranes. Over the years, 111 bird species have been recorded for the area, including some unexpected prairie and woodland species.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Snow Goose Anser caerulescens||breeding||1997||153,500 individuals||-||A4i||Least Concern|
|Ross's Goose Anser rossii||breeding||1998||50,000 individuals||-||A4i||Least Concern|
|A4iii Species group - waterbirds||breeding||-||100,000-499,999 individuals||unknown||A4iii|
|Protected area||Designation||Area (ha)||Relationship with IBA||Overlap with IBA (ha)|
|McConnell River||Migratory Bird Sanctuary||35,400||protected area contained by site||34,000|
|McConnell River||Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar)||32,800||protected area contained by site||10,000|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Wetlands (inland)||Freshwater lakes and pools; Rivers; Salt/brackish marshes||-|
|Coastline||Rocky flats & barrens||-|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: McConnell River. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 20/12/2014
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