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Île aux Goélands (QC021)


Île aux Goélands (QC021)

Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Québec

Latitude 47.360°N
Longitude 61.971°W
Altitude 0 - 15m
Area 0.55km²

Site Description

Île aux Goélands is located approximately 400 m from the western coast of Île du Cap Aux Meules, and about 1 km southwest of the Étang-du-Nord harbour. It is a small oblong-shaped island composed of red sandstone, rocky shores, and coastal cliffs rising up to 15 metres in height. Grassy meadows cover areas where soil has accumulated. The cliff faces that surround the island provide breeding habitat for a large number of seabirds, including a significant portion of the North American Great Cormorant population.


Despite its small size, Île aux Goélands supports nesting populations of at least six seabird species. Great Cormorants have been present at this site since at least the early 1980s. In 1990, a census of nesting adults resulted in a population estimate of 163 pairs. This represents about 2.6% of the estimated North American population.

The populations of other seabird species nesting on the island have varied over the years. There is a 1975 record of over 2000 Herring Gulls. However, in June of 1976 only 173 Herring Gulls were recorded, and the most recent estimate (1990) is for only 31 pairs of Herring Gulls. On the other hand, Black-legged Kittiwakes, which were absent during the 1976 and 1988 censuses, were first recorded in 1990 with 61 nests being present. Other seabirds nesting on Île aux Goélands in 1990 included Great Black-backed Gulls (39 pairs), Black Guillemots (15 birds), and Double-crested Cormorants (18 pairs). In addition, a single Common Eider nest with 5 eggs was found during the seabird surveys.

Conservation Issues

To date, no direct conservation measures have been taken to protect the Great Cormorant colony at this site. In general, conservation of the sand dunes and the coastal marshes on the Magdalen Islands has been a greater priority. Although little can be done about it, wind and tidal erosion also threaten the colony.

IBA Criteria Habitats Land Uses Potential or Ongoing Threats Conservation Status
Great Cormorant
Number Year Season
100 - 3261990Summer
100 - 1501980Fall
Black-headed Gull
Number Year Season
Piping Plover
Number Year Season