Lac Deschênes-Ottawa River (ON112)
Altitude 52 - 115m
The Lac Deschênes-Ottawa River IBA, shared nearly equally between Ontario and Quebec, includes a core area of approximately 45 kilometres of the Ottawa River from the Chaudière dam in the east to the Sault-des-Chats Dam near Fitzroy Harbour to the west which covers several key areas where waterbirds congregate. The associated terrestrial and wetland habitats include a large amount of private and public lands that fall under a wide range of use and zoning allowances. Much of the area Iis already recognized to be of high conservation value, including protected areas adjacent to the river and significant wildlife habitat and natural areas identified in the plans of the City of Ottawa and the National Capital Commission, and the City of Gatineau. Other areas of interest along and adjacent to the river include the large wetland complex along Constance Creek and Constance Lake, Areas of Provincial and Scientific Interest in Ontario, Fitzroy Provincial Park, agricultural land and low-density rural settlements that include grassland habitat supporting species at risk, the protected Breckenridge forests in Quebec, and a large swath of the riparian corridor along the Ottawa River in Gatineau from Parc Brébeuf westward to Lamoureux Parc.
In this IBA, thresholds, be it for an individual species or the "congregatory" category, have been surpassed in most years. Some species have only surpassed a threshold once (e.g. Red-throated Loon), whereas others have eclipsed thresholds several times (e.g. Herring Gull). Brant migrate through the region in spring and fall, and occasionally gather in very large numbers. Canada Goose also can occur in large numbers during spring migration, depending upon the timing of the spring thaw. Other numbers of waterfowl can be very high, especially in the late fall, though usually less than 20,000 individuals. The river also attracts large numbers of gulls, particularly Herring Gull, Ring-billed Gull and Great Black-backed Gull. Several small nesting colonies of Ring-billed Gulls occur on some of the islands, along with other less common species including Black-crowned Night-Heron and Great Egret. The river also regularly hosts large congregations of swallows and Chimney Swifts during spring and fall migration. There are many other species that are of conservation interest, such as species at risk and colonial waterbirds that regularly occur (although not in numbers to qualify as trigger species) in the IBA . The riparian forests adjacent to the river teem with migrating landbirds during spring and fall migration.
In 2014, the Lac Deschênes-Ottawa River Important Bird Area Conservation Plan was published in support of the IBA. The planning process identified a large number of threats to the habitats within the IBA and individual species. These threats are mainly associated with the large and growing urban areas and their populations. They include various forms of pollution, disturbance, building encroachment and other human-associated causes of avian mortality such as domestic cats. There are increasing demands on the river for recreation from pleasure-boaters, kites, kayakers, surfers and wake-boarders, etc., that potentially could make sections of the river less attractive for congregating species. Contaminants from both urban applications and agriculture could undermine invertebrate life in the river and lower its high productivity that makes it so attractive to aerial insectivores. Fortunately there are several groups working to protect and manage the river in a sustainable way, and the various levels of government at all levels and in both provinces, have taken steps to protecting the river corridor.
Potential or Ongoing Threats