email a friend
printable version
Location St Vincent and the Grenadines, The Grenadines
Central coordinates 61o 16.78' West  12o 47.54' North
IBA criteria A4i, A4iii, B4i, B4ii
Area 418 ha
Altitude 0 - 55m
Year of IBA assessment 2008

Site description This small, uninhabited island is located approximately 5 miles (8 km) north-north-east of Canouan. Much of the island’s vegetation, which years ago comprised of Dry Scrub Woodland, has in recent times been converted to coastal grassland, with few shrubs intermixed. Portions of the island have been left bare and eroded. This phenomenon has been caused primarily by the annual burning of the vegetation to facilitate poaching of eggs by fishermen. This burning is normally conducted just prior to laying of the first eggs, at the beginning of the migratory season (March/April) (E. Bess and D. Hazell, pers. comm.). Annually, Petit Canouan supports the largest numbers of nesting seabirds, numbering several tens of thousand individuals. It is known among the poachers as the island for the “egg birds”. Law enforcement is limited on the island due to a lack of presence by enforcement agencies. The island is identified as a scuba diving site under the SPAHS.

Key Biodiversity Though data does not exist for species abundance, combined nesting populations may number several tens of thousands (D. Hazell, O. King and E. Bess, pers. comm.). The most populous of birds must be the Sooty Tern whose numbers are said to darken the skies as they migrate at the end of nesting season (D. Hazell, pers. comm.). They can also be seen in their thousands early in the mornings and late at evenings prior to and after foraging at sea. Thus, although access of the island can be dangerous, these large numbers are a feature that makes poaching attractive, because the returns for effort can be quite rewarding. Based on reports obtained on the size of the breeding population of seabirds on Petit Canouan, particularly that of the Sooty Tern (Plates 24 & 25) and Magnificant Frigatebird, this island is considered critical to the survival of seabirds on St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and by extension, the rest of the Americas. Accordingly, Petit Canouan easily qualifies as a category A4i IBA. The Brown Noddy is also a regular on this island.

Non-bird biodiversity: Data on the island's wildlife are unavailable.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Magnificent Frigatebird Fregata magnificens breeding  2006  250-500 individuals  poor  B4ii  Least Concern 
Brown Booby Sula leucogaster breeding  2006  250-500 individuals  poor  B4ii  Least Concern 
Laughing Gull Larus atricilla breeding  2007  250-500 individuals  poor  A4i  Least Concern 
Royal Tern Thalasseus maximus breeding  2006  250-500 individuals  poor  B4i  Least Concern 
Roseate Tern Sterna dougallii breeding  2007  100-250 individuals  poor  A4i  Least Concern 
Sooty Tern Onychoprion fuscatus breeding  2007  10,000-19,999 individuals  poor  B4i  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds breeding  2007  10,000-19,999 individuals  poor  A4iii   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Petit Canouan Wildlife Reserve 0 is identical to site 418  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Grassland   -
Shrubland Scrub  -

Land use

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

Protection status Wildlife Reserve

Further web sources of information 

Site profile from Important Bird Areas in the Caribbean: key sites for conservation (BirdLife International 2008)

Contribute  Please click here to help BirdLife conserve the world's birds - your data for this IBA and others are vital for helping protect the environment.

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

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife