Shorebirds fly south

Tidewater Provincial Park and Pei lay sheesh kow IBA

Welcome to the September installment of “IBAs in provincial parks,” brought to you by Ontario IBA Coordinator Amanda Bichel of Bird Studies Canada.

Today’s Important Bird & Biodiversity Area started out as an area of seven IBAs and is now an amalgamated site with an added 716 km2 of area.

Tidewater Provincial Park and the tail end of Kesagami Provincial Park fit comfortably within our new IBA: Pei lay sheesh kow.

“Pei lay sheesh kow” means “an area that abounds with birds” in Cree. That couldn’t be more true!

Shorebird stopover

Map of the IBA

This new IBA is designated for large congregations of shorebirds and waterfowl.

For shorebirds, it acts as a stopover point between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans. For waterfowl, it is a staging area.

Over 25 species of shorebirds depend on James Bay for a break during their journey south in the late summer and fall. This includes juvenile birds making their first migration.

In spring and fall, many waterfowl species gather off-shore. Some, like the Black Scoter, do so to undergo flight feather moult.

What species congregate in this IBA?

Shorebirds fly south

The table below highlights some of the impressive waterbird populations that depend on the area.

Remember: IBAs like this one are designated when 1% or more of a bird’s global or continental population regularly uses a site.

These are daily counts, so numbers for the season are even more staggering:

Species name Number observed Percent of global population
Black Scoter 39,102 1.7
Brant 24,100 4.3
Hudsonian Godwit 3,295 4.7
Pectoral Sandpiper 1,584 2.5
Red Knot 6,200 5.6 *
White-rumped Sandpiper 35,000 3.1

*Percent of North American population

Tidewater Provincial Park

Aerial lake view

Tidewater Provincial Park often attracts adventurous backcountry campers. Situated between Moosonee and Moose Factory, Tidewater Provincial Park provides a last stop to people who are canoeing down the Missinaibi or Abitibi Rivers.

The setting is great for exploring, but be aware tides on the Moose River can be unpredictable as they come in and out from James Bay.  Tidewater is located on five islands and offers 10 backcountry campsites.

Just off shore from the park, good fishing and wildlife viewing can be found. Lucky visitors may spot a seal or the white back of a Beluga Whale!

So if you want a remote backcountry journey, think about making a trip to the park. If you’re a birder, you can volunteer with the James Bay Shorebird Project and help save birds during your visit!

Support from Moose Cree First Nation for the new IBA

Aerial field view

The Moose Cree First Nation (MCFN) had a huge role in defining the new IBA by applying local knowledge of birds, habitats, and land use. Members of MCFN are also watching over the site as IBA Caretakers.

Moose Cree First Nation, Nature Canada, Bird Studies Canada, and Canadian Wildlife Services are working hard to designate this candidate site as a Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network site.

IBA logoBird Studies Canada thanks the Ontario Trillium Foundation for generously supporting the Ontario IBA Program. To be in the loop with these monthly blogs, sign up for the Ontario IBA Newsletter.