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Location Canada, Ontario
Central coordinates 80o 34.19' West  51o 42.07' North
IBA criteria A4iii
Area 4,000 ha
Altitude 0 - 5m
Year of IBA assessment 2008

Bird Studies Canada/Nature Canada

Site description Big Piskwanish Point is located in the southwestern corner of James Bay, about 40 km north of Moosonee. The site consists of a narrow system of gravel ridges that extend for about 5 km in each direction of the point. Inland from the ridges, a 1.5 to 2 km wide strip of seasonally flooded supertidal marsh lies between the coastline and an inland area of willow and alder scrub. Submerged shoals extend for up to 2 km offshore. This site experiences subarctic-like conditions due to the adjacent cold waters of Hudson and James Bay; the mean annual temperature is about -1°C. The tidal range at this site is about 2 m.

Key Biodiversity Big Piskawanish Point has not been the subject of intensive surveys in recent years. However, studies in the early 1950s documented concentrations of tremendous numbers of birds at this site, and there is no reason to doubt that large concentrations are not still present during fall migration. Significant one-day counts were recorded for at least four shorebird species: Hudsonian Godwit, Greater Yellowlegs, Pectoral Sandpiper, and Red Knot. And, over a 20-day period, 4,000 Black-bellied Plovers were recorded. All of these species are thought to be present in numbers that exceed 2% of their North American or global populations (many shorebird population estimates are quite rough). Also, up to 1,000 Dunlin (subspecies hudsonia) have been recorded, and White-rumped Sandpiper is common.

In addition to shorebirds, over 20,000 Northern Pintail were recorded during a one-week period. Other waterbirds that were recorded in notable number included Canada Geese (one-day count of 1,200), Lesser Snow Geese (one-day count of 1,400), and Green-winged Teal (one-day count of 800). Large concentrations of landbirds were also observed at this site, with an estimate of 40,000 Savannah Sparrows being recorded over an 18-day period during fall migration. Other landbirds recorded in notable numbers include Horned Larks, American Water Pipits and Yellow Warblers.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
A4iii Species group - waterbirds passage  1955  20,000-49,999 individuals  unknown  A4iii   


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

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
hunting major

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

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