Baynes Sound (BC057)
Courtenay, British Columbia
Comox Valley IBA, Baynes Sound IBA and Lambert Channel/Hornby Island Waters IBA share common populations of waterbirds but were established as separate IBAs because they were nominated independently. In 2013, these sites were amalgamated into the K'omoks IBA; follow this link for current information for this area.
Baynes Sound is situated between the east coast of Vancouver Island and Denman Island in the Strait of Georgia in southwestern British Columbia. This site extends from Comox Harbour to Deep Bay and Mapleguard Point, approximately 30 km to the southeast. Chrome Island is situated off the southern point of Denman Island, and is included in the IBA. Baynes Sound is a shallow coastal channel fringed by protected bays, open foreshore, tidal estuaries, inshore marshes and adjacent forests. Comox Harbour, which bounds Baynes Sound on the northwest, is a large low gradient deltaic deposit. Together these protected waters and their many freshwater streams function as a single estuary. The shoreline, much of which is in a relatively natural condition, ranges from wide expanses of mud and sand flats to rocky shorelines overlooking deep water. The key habitats are a series of low gradient deltas, sand and gravel beaches, tidal flats, estuaries and foreshore. The Sound has several small bays that comprise the most important area in the province for oyster mariculture and support a shellfish industry. The surrounding land is a mixture of undeveloped second growth forest, areas of commercial pasture and cropland, small farms, urban and suburban development and light industry.
The Baynes Sound area is important for winter populations of waterbirds and shorebirds, and for summer-moulting seaducks. The presence of spawning herring during early spring is an important food source for many bird species occurring in the area. Continentally important numbers of Black Brant occur during spring migration. Western Grebe occurred at globally significant levels most years from 1975 to 1988, but has decreased in numbers since then. The area is also an important feeding area for Surf Scoter, Glaucous-winged Gull, Mew Gull, and Thayer's Gull.
Baynes Sound has long been recognized as an important area for waterbirds, salmon, herring and shellfish. The east coast of Vancouver Island has experienced rapid housing development in the past few years. The greatest threat to birds in Baynes Sound is the destruction or degradation of habitat (in particular coastal wetlands) by urban development. Runoff from sewage and suburban storm sewers threaten the water quality and disturbance from increased recreational activities also poses a threat to bird populations using the area.
A Conservation Plan was written.
Potential or Ongoing Threats