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Location Canada, Yukon Territories
Central coordinates 139o 43.34' West  67o 57.04' North
IBA criteria A4i, A4iii
Area 800,000 ha
Altitude 286 - 303m
Year of IBA assessment 2008

Bird Studies Canada/Nature Canada

Site description The Old Crow Flats are located in the northern Yukon about 125 km south of the Beaufort Sea. The Flats are located on a large, ancient lake bottom which is bordered by mountains on three sides and dotted with over 2,000 shallow lakes and ponds. With an area of over 617,000 ha, it is in many respects, an unique wetland system in the mostly mountainous landscape of the northern Yukon.

The Old Crow River and its tributaries wind through the flats in down-cut ravines that are well below the general level of the plain. Most of the habitat consists of lakes and ponds ringed with sedge marshes and shrub thicket habitats in the slightly drier areas.

Key Biodiversity The Old Crow Flats have been identified as an IBA primarily due to the large numbers of waterfowl that make use of the site for staging, breeding and moulting. During the summer, approximately 500,000 waterfowl make use of the area, more than any other site in the Yukon. The most abundant breeding species include White-winged and Surf Scoters (20-80,000), Greater and Lesser Scaup (50-100,000), and Northern Pintail (10-100,000). From a global perspective this translates into approximately 1.1% to 4.5% of the White-winged and Surf Scoter population, 0.83% to 1.65% of the Greater and Lesser Scaup population, and 0.4% to 4.0% of the Northern Pintail population.

Other waterfowl species that breed in this area in substantial numbers include Oldsquaw, Green-winged Teal, American Wigeon, swans, loons and grebes. Additional duck species also move into the Flats to moult, rest and feed prior to fall migration, especially Barrow's Goldeneye and Canvasback.

Two nationally threatened raptors breed in this area: the anatum subspecies of Peregrine Falcon (Threatened in Canada) and Short-eared Owl (Vulnerable in Canada). The Siberian Tit, a landbird with a very restricted range within Canada also occurs in this area.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Greater Scaup Aythya marila breeding  1995  25,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Surf Scoter Melanitta perspicillata breeding  1995  10,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Melanitta fusca breeding  1995  10,000 individuals  A4i  Not Recognised 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds breeding  1995  50,000-99,999 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Old Crow Flats Special Management Area 769,747 protected area overlaps with site 520,000  
Vuntut National Park 440,000 protected area overlaps with site 210,000  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Shrubland Scrub  -
Grassland Edaphic grassland  -
Wetlands (inland) Freshwater marshes/swamps  -

Land use

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

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Old Crow Flats. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016

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