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Location Canada, Québec
Central coordinates 69o 33.44' West  48o 4.09' North
IBA criteria A4i
Area 230 ha
Altitude 0 - 5m
Year of IBA assessment 2008

Bird Studies Canada/Nature Canada

Site description Île Rouge is located almost in the middle of the St. Lawrence lower estuary, near the mouth of the Saguenay River. It is most easily accessible by boat from Baie-Sainte-Catherine village, which lies 13 kilometres to the northwest on the north shore. The study area includes both terrestrial and shoreline habitats, down to the tides’ lowest limits. The shoreline consists of rounded pebbles, scarce vegetation and a sand bar that is exposed off its eastern tip at low tide. A lighthouse and cottage are also located on the island.

Key Biodiversity Île Rouge is the main resting area for shorebirds migrating and feeding in the region from La Malbaie to Pointe-des-Monts on the north shore, and from La Pocatière to Matane on the south shore; this represents a substantial part of the St. Lawrence estuary. During surveys in 1981, it held 32% of all the shorebirds observed at the main concentration sites of the mid- and marine St. Lawrence estuary. The density of individuals was calculated to be approximately 2,680 birds per hectare. The highest one-day tally of all shorebirds was 13,401 individuals. Black-bellied Plovers outnumbered all others, with 10,000 being present at one time, possibly representing 7% of the North American population. This island is considered by some to be eastern North America’s most important stopover site for this species.

Other shorebirds present in large numbers are Purple Sandpiper, with 300 birds recorded in the winter of 1999 (3% of the North American population) and Ruddy Turnstone, with 890 birds recorded in 1981. Up to 2,500 Semipalmated Sandpipers have been seen here. Many gulls use this site for resting, for example in September 1996, 5,000 Black-legged Kittiwakes, 1,000 Herring Gulls and 700 Great Black-backed Gulls were seen. During the 1995 breeding season, Herring Gull (550 pairs), Ring-billed Gull (1,900), and Common Eider (336 pairs 1992-5 avg.) could all be found nesting in colonies on the island. In winter, there are flocks of up to 1,100 American Black Ducks and 8,621 Oldsquaw in the waters around the island.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola passage  1981  10,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Purple Sandpiper Calidris maritima winter  1999  300 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Saguenay - Saint Lawrence National Marine Conservation Area 113,800 protected area contains site 230  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Wetlands (inland) Sand dunes and beaches  -
Coastline Rocky flats & barrens  -
Other   -

Land use

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

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Île Rouge. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016

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