IBA Site Listing
IBALong Point Peninsula and Marshes
Port Rowan, Ontario
Site Summary
ON001Latitude
Longitude
42,591° N
80,307° W
Elevation
Size
173 - 181 m
241.49 km˛
Habitats:
coniferous forest (temperate), deciduous woods (temperate), mixed woods (temperate), savanna, sedge/grass meadows, freshwater marsh, coastal sand dunes & beaches, unknown
Land Use:
Agriculture, Hunting, Not Utilized (Natural Area), Tourism/recreation, Urban/industrial/transport
Potential or ongoing Threats:
Disturbance, Recreation/tourism, Urban/industrial development
IBA Criteria: Globally Significant: Congregatory Species, Waterfowl Concentrations, Migratory Landbird Concentrations, Nationally Significant: Threatened Species, Congregatory Species
Conservation status: International Monarch Butterfly Reserve, National Wildlife Area (federal), Ramsar Site (Wetland of International Significance), World Biosphere Reserve
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Site Description
The Long Point site includes the Long Point Peninsula, Long Point Inner Bay and the Turkey Point and Big Creek marshes. Extending 32 km into Lake Erie, the Long Point Peninsula is the longest freshwater sandspit in the world. With an area of approximately 105,000 ha, it is constantly changing due to the continuous deposition and erosion of sediments through wind and wave erosion. The peninsula itself is a series of alternating ridges that are separated by ponds and swales. These wetlands and associated sand dunes are the best remaining example of this type of ecosystem in the Great Lakes basin.

Protected from the prevailing south-westerly winds by the sandspit, extensive marshes have formed in its lee or northern side. The Inner Bay (approximately 28,000 ha) encompasses the open water from the Big Creek marshes in the west to an imaginary line drawn from Turkey Point to Pottahawk Point in the east. The northern and western shores are fringed by shallow marshes, with the extensive marshes of Turkey Point in the northeast corner and those of Long Point to the south and west. The moderating effect of Lake Erie, combined with the southern geographic location of Long Point, allows a number of plants and animals to survive here at the northern fringe of their North American range.

Birds
The Long Point area is most renowned for the concentrations of waterfowl that make use of the area during spring and fall migration. Single day counts of 70,000 to over 100,000 waterfowl are made regularly. Over the last five years (1992 to 1996) nationally and/or globally significant numbers (i.e., greater than 1% of the biogeographic population) of eight waterfowl species have been recorded (Tundra Swan - eastern population, American Black Duck, Canvasback, Common Merganser, American Wigeon, Ring-necked Duck, Redhead, and scaup (Greater and Lesser Scaup combined). Of these eight species, Tundra Swan, American Black Duck and Canvasback consistently occur in globally significant numbers (6.0% to 13%; 2.1% to 3.6%; and 2.1% to 6.8% of their populations respectively). It should be recognized that these data are based on single-day-counts; over the course of the migration season it is likely that the number of individuals and associated percentages for each of these species would be even higher. Over the last 20 years there have been occasions when even higher numbers of waterfowl have been recorded: 10 to 15% of the Canvasback population; up to 10% of the Redhead population; and up to 35% to 45% of the Tundra Swan (eastern) population. Other waterbirds that occur in large numbers include Whimbrel (often in the hundreds), Bonaparte's Gull (regular one-day counts in excess of 5,000), and Common Terns (regular one-day counts in excess of 1,000)

In addition to waterfowl, the Long Point area also supports an exceptional number and diversity of resident and migrant landbirds. A total of 367 bird species have been recorded at Long Point to date. This represents approximately 85% of the species that have been recorded thus far in Ontario. About 120 species have nested in the area and on average, about 260 species of birds are recorded each year.

The Long Point Bird Observatory operates three migration monitoring stations on the spit. As of the end of 1995, they had banded 522,244 birds of 265 different species. Using the estimated daily totals of migrant birds in each of the three census areas it has been estimated that the average number of migrants using the area is 2.4 million individuals in the spring and 7 million in the fall.

Several nationally threatened bird species nest in the Long Point area including nationally significant numbers of King Rail (endangered), Least Bittern (vulnerable), and Prothonotary Warbler (endangered). Red-headed Woodpecker (nationally vulnerable) are also present, but not in nationally significant numbers. Local populations of all of these species appear to have declined in recent years and some may be extirpated or only occasional breeders. Long Point formerly supported a significant breeding population of Piping Plovers (globally vulnerable; nationally endangered) but the last recorded evidence of attempted breeding was in 1981. This species is now very rarely seen during migration. However, suitable breeding habitat still remains.


IBA Criteria
SpeciesLinksDateSeasonNumberGCN
Acadian Flycatcher
1990 - 2013
FA
1
Acadian Flycatcher
1990 - 2013
SU
1 - 10
Acadian Flycatcher
1991 - 2013
SP
1 - 3
American Black Duck
1998
WI
6,095 - 6,806
American Black Duck
1995 - 1998
FA
7,650 - 12,771
American Wigeon
1991
FA
21,000
Barn Owl
2007
FA
1
Bonaparte's Gull
1990 - 2013
FA
3,000 - 17,000
Bonaparte's Gull
1991 - 2011
SP
3,000 - 20,000
Canvasback
1998 - 2012
SP
4,000 - 29,836
Canvasback
1992 - 2012
WI
4,457 - 51,766
Canvasback
1990 - 2013
FA
5,000 - 41,865
Chimney Swift
1990 - 2013
SP
23 - 450
Chimney Swift
1990 - 2012
FA
25 - 81
Chimney Swift
1992 - 1997
SU
30 - 40
Common Grackle
2005 - 2012
FA
900,000 - 973,650
Common Merganser
2012
WI
14,000
Common Tern
1990 - 2013
FA
6,000 - 28,145
Cooper's Hawk
2006 - 2007
FA
4,731 - 11,121
Cooper's Hawk
2007
SP
7,246
Double-crested Cormorant
2003 - 2013
FA
12,504 - 70,000
Greater Scaup
1991 - 2012
WI
5,015 - 18,000
Greater Scaup
1999 - 2013
FA
5,000 - 25,100
Greater Scaup
1998 - 2012
SP
5,000 - 23,686
Henslow's Sparrow
1993 - 2011
SP
1
Henslow's Sparrow
2004
FA
1
Herring Gull
1992
SP
4,000 - 8,000
Herring Gull
1991 - 1992
FA
3,500 - 4,000
King Rail
1997 - 2001
FA
1
King Rail
1991 - 2001
SU
1 - 4
King Rail
1991 - 2005
SP
1 - 2
Kirtland's Warbler
2003 - 2011
SP
1
Kirtland's Warbler
1995
FA
1
Least Bittern
1995
SU
22
Lesser Scaup
1992 - 2012
FA
25,000 - 70,000
Little Gull
1990 - 2013
FA
2 - 120
Little Gull
1990 - 2013
SP
2 - 145
Little Gull
1991 - 2012
SU
2 - 23
Little Gull
1990 - 2013
WI
2 - 117
Loggerhead Shrike
1992 - 2013
SP
1
Loggerhead Shrike
2004 - 2011
FA
1
Northern Bobwhite
2000
WI
2
Northern Bobwhite
2002
SU
2
Peregrine Falcon
1993 - 2013
FA
10 - 31
Prothonotary Warbler
1990 - 2013
SP
1 - 2
Prothonotary Warbler
1990 - 2013
FA
1 - 2
Prothonotary Warbler
1991 - 2013
SU
1 - 2
Red-breasted Merganser
1990 - 2013
FA
1,880 - 30,000
Red-breasted Merganser
1998 - 2006
WI
2,004 - 5,591
Red-breasted Merganser
2006 - 2013
SP
1,990 - 7,246
Redhead
1992 - 2013
FA
9,573 - 44,230
Redhead
1998 - 2013
SP
9,000 - 20,000
Redhead
1998 - 2012
WI
6,414 - 21,897
Red-headed Woodpecker
1998 - 2002
FA
14 - 30
Red-headed Woodpecker
1992 - 2013
SP
11 - 20
Ring-billed Gull
1992
SP
40,000
Ring-billed Gull
1992
SU
65,000
Ruddy Duck (Ruddy)
1999 - 2001
WI
4,074 - 7,204
Ruddy Duck (Ruddy)
1997
FA
3,970
Rusty Blackbird
1990 - 2013
WI
27 - 200
Rusty Blackbird
1990 - 2013
FA
23 - 3,000
Rusty Blackbird
1990 - 2013
SP
23 - 1,775
Tundra Swan
1990 - 2013
WI
1,500 - 9,207
Tundra Swan
1991 - 2011
FA
1,500 - 11,260
Tundra Swan
1991 - 2013
SP
2,000 - 11,500
Waterbirds
1992 - 1998
FA
191,002 - 9,624,545
Waterbirds
1998
WI
97,346
Waterbirds
1992 - 1998
SP
766,000 - 3,322,951
Whimbrel
1995
SP
600
Whooping Crane
2007
SP
1
Yellow-breasted Chat
1990 - 2013
SP
1 - 3
Yellow-breasted Chat
1990 - 2013
FA
1 - 2
Yellow-breasted Chat
1992 - 2013
SU
1 - 2
Note: species shown in bold indicate that the maximum number exceeds at least one of the IBA thresholds (sub-regional, regional or global). The site may still not qualify for that level of IBA if the maximum number reflects an exceptional or historical occurrence.
 
Conservation Issues
In August 1996, the Long Point area was announced as the first globally significant Important Bird Area in Canada. This international recognition is one of many: in 1982 it was designated as a Ramsar site following the convention on Wetlands of International Importance; in 1986 it was recognized as a World Biosphere site by UNESCO within the Man and Biosphere Program; and in 1995 it was recognized as an International Monarch Butterfly Reserve.

The presence of the significant natural features at Long Point is largely due to the stewardship of the Long Point Company. They have owned and managed a large portion of the Point for duck hunting since 1866. More recently, the Canadian Wildlife Service has become active in the conservation of the area through the establishment of National Wildlife Areas in 1973 and 1979. Other major tenants who manage their land for conservation include the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Long Point Region Conservation Authority, Ducks Unlimited, and at least five different private waterfowl clubs.

Although much of the area is protected through ownership by conservation interests, there are direct threats to non-protected wetlands due to proposals to convert the marsh for agricultural or recreational purposes. In addition to direct loss of habitat through development, disturbance to resting flocks of waterfowl by motor boats is also a serious concern. To counter this threat public awareness programs have been undertaken. Other threats include the potential for off-site developments that may interfere with the shoreline transport of sand that forms Long Point or the artificial manipulation of Great Lakes water levels.


The IBA Program is an international conservation initiative coordinated by BirdLife International. The Canadian co-partners for the IBA Program are Bird Studies Canada and Nature Canada.
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