IBA Little George Island
Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba
Site Summary
MB062 Latitude
52.962° N
97.961° W
714 m
8.15 km²
deciduous woods (temperate), scrub/shrub, freshwater lake, mud or sand flats (freshwater)
Land Use:
Nature conservation and research, Fisheries/aquaculture
Potential or ongoing Threats:
IBA Criteria: Globally Significant: Congregatory Species
Conservation status:
Restricted access for IBA coordinators
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Site Description
Little George Island is located in the northern basin of Lake Winnipeg, about 40 km southwest of the Poplar River First Nation. It is a remote island that is only 12 ha in size. A lagoon is located in its middle, and a sandy point extends to the northwest of the island. This sandy point is utilized as a nesting site by the terns.
Little George Island supports a significant colony of nesting Common and Caspian Terns. Over the past 30 years, an estimated 1,000 to 1,800 Common Tern nests, and 500 to 3,800 Caspian Tern nests have been recorded in a single year. For Caspian Terns this would represent at least 7.6% of their estimated North American population. Numbers of Caspian Terns at this site have fluctuated quite dramatically. As many as 3,800 pairs were recorded in 1992, but it is now thought that many have moved to a new colony on the Long Point sandspit to the northwest. Caspian Terns were listed as nationally vulnerable species from 1978 to April 1999. Recovering populations, however, prompted the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada to remove the species from the list of concern. Other species nesting on the island include Herring Gull (50 nests 1986), Ring-billed Gull (3,000 to 4,000 pairs) and Double-crested Cormorant (60 nests 1986). In addition, Greater Scaup also regularly nest on the island with as many as 12 nests being found in a single day. This is by far the most southerly documented breeding site for Greater Scaup in Manitoba.

IBA Criteria
SpeciesT | A | I Links Date Season Number G C N
Caspian Tern 1986 - 1992 SU 1,000 - 7,600
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
Little George Island is located in a remote part of Lake Winnipeg that is famous for its great wind-storms. Although this serves to protect the island from visitors, when there is a severe storm, commercial fishermen are sometimes forced to seek shelter on this island. These infrequent visits are probably the only threat to the birds nesting at this site.

Little George Island has been designated as an Ecological Reserve. This will preserve and protect the large colonies of nesting terns and Greater Scaup. The reserve covers the entire island, plus a 250 metre zone around the island (a total of 74 ha). In Manitoba, Ecological Reserves receive the highest form of protection available and only passive non-consumptive visits on foot are permitted. All other activities require ministerial approval and land is free from all development that could harm habitats. IUCN have categorized such protected areas under category 1a, that being ‘a protected area managed for strict nature protection available primarily for scientific research and/or environmental monitoring’.

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