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Location Canada, Québec
Central coordinates 64o 17.95' West  48o 24.02' North
IBA criteria A4i, A4iii
Area 5,600 ha
Altitude 0 - 15m
Year of IBA assessment 2008

Bird Studies Canada/Nature Canada

Site description The Cap d’ Espoir is situated at the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula, on the Gulf of St Lawrence, 4 km east of the village of Ste-Thérèse-de-Gaspé, Québec. Cap d’Espoir is a rounded point composed of 15 m high cliffs which fall directly into sea. In some places gravel and rocky outcrops are uncovered at low tide. The top of the cape is dominated by a grassy slope, but there is also a small freshwater marsh, and some scrubby and wooded areas. Several houses are present along the road that leads to the lighthouse that is at the edge of the cliff. The marine waters are not deep in this area.

Key Biodiversity Marine birds in both the summer and winter constitute the main birds of interest at Cap d’Espoir. In winter, tens of thousands of Oldsqaw use the waters off the Cape; in 1992 a high of over 60,000 was estimated. This represents about 2% of the North American population of the species. Also present in winter is a significant portion of the eastern population of Barrow’s Goldeneye – in 1985, 57 birds or about 2% of this population were seen. A few of the nationally endangered Harlequin Duck (eastern population) are seen here in the same season.

In the summer, the cliffs hold seven species of cliff-nesting seabirds: Double-crested Cormorants, Great Cormorants (a new nester), Great Black-backed Gulls, Herring Gulls, Black-legged Kittiwakes, Black Guillemots and Razorbills. Most numerous are the Black-legged Kittiwake. In 1989, the year of the most recent survey, 4492 pairs of kittiwake occupied the cliffs of Cap d’ Espoir, representing about 2% of the western Atlantic population. If a five-year average of the most recent counts is calculated (in this case including surveys as early as 1974), then the average of 2249 pairs represents just under 1% of the, generally increasing, western Atlantic population.

In spring migration, up to 5000 Common Murres have been seen, as have hundreds of scoters (all three species) and eiders which flock together off the point. The site is also frequented regularly by individual Peregrine Falcons and Short-eared Owls in the spring. Both species are listed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, as threatened and vulnerable respectively.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis breeding  1992  60,000 individuals  A4i  Vulnerable 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds breeding  1992  50,000-99,999 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Pointe Saint - Pierre (Percé) Faunal Habitat 1,653 protected area overlaps with site 160  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Sea Open sea  92%
Coastline Sea cliffs and rocky shores  1%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research minor
tourism/recreation minor

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Cap d'Espoir. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016

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