IBA Albany River Estuary & Assoc. Coastline
Fort Albany, Ontario
Site Summary
ON125 Latitude
52.317° N
81.515° W
0 - 5 m
1,918.61 km²
salt marshes/brackish marshes, tidal rivers/estuaries, mud or sand flats (saline), open sea
Land Use:
Potential or ongoing Threats:
Egg-collecting, Fisheries, Hunting
IBA Criteria: Globally Significant: Congregatory Species, Waterfowl Concentrations, Shorebird Concentrations, Nationally Significant: Congregatory Species
Conservation status:
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Site Description
The Albany River Estuary and its associated coastlines are found along the southwestern edge of James Bay, approximately 15 km east of Fort Albany, in northeastern Ontario. This site encompasses the region at the mouth of the Albany River, the section of coast that extends northward approximately 60 km to the mouth of the Kapiskau River, and the section of coast that extends southward about 50 km to Cockispenny Point. Several islands are located within the mouth of the Albany River. This large river is a major source of freshwater and silt for James Bay. At the river mouth, mudflats and submerged shallow shoals extend as far as 10 km offshore. At the north end of the site, near the Kapiskau River, intertidal marshes are about 1 km long. The marshes widen near the Albany River and then narrow considerably in the south end, near Cockispenny Point. The supertidal marshes follow a similar pattern; they are roughly 4 km in width at the mouth of the Albany, and less than 2 km wide further to the north and south. The extensive size of these open coastal wetlands (1.5 to 5 km wide) provides tremendous foraging opportunities for staging birds. The combination of marshes and shallow lakes provide a unique habitat along the coast north of the Albany River.
The vast mud flats and marshes of the Albany River and coast make it a globally important staging area for thousands of migrating geese, waterfowl and shorebirds. During fall migration, more than 20% of the estimated global Hudsonian Godwit population passes through this region en route to Tierra del Fuego. In summer, 7,730 Black Scoters (over 4% of the global population) and approximately 400 Marbled Godwits (4% of the Canadian population) have been recorded during one-day counts. Also, on a one-day fall migration count, more than 34,000 Lesser Snow Geese, representing more than 1% of the mid-continental population, were recorded. Snow Geese also stage here in large numbers during spring migration.

Several other bird species including Sandhill Cranes, and several species of shorebirds and ducks, such as the American Black Duck and Green Winged Teal also use the Albany River Estuary as a staging site. . In addition to the high concentration of staging birds, nests of Little Gulls have been confirmed and it is believed that Black Terns also nest in the area.

IBA Criteria
SpeciesT | A | I Links Date Season Number G C N
Black Scoter 1974 SU 7,730
Brant 2001 SP 3,000 - 8,000
Brant 2003 SU 2,700
Dunlin 2012 FA 13,720 - 19,850
Dunlin 2012 SU 19,420
Greater Yellowlegs 2012 SU 901
Hudsonian Godwit 1995 - 2012 FA 2,381 - 10,000
Hudsonian Godwit 2012 SU 1,876
Semipalmated Sandpiper 2012 FA 38,330 - 63,750
Semipalmated Sandpiper 2012 SU 88,130
Waterbirds 1979 FA 34,212
White-rumped Sandpiper 2012 FA 27,286 - 28,605
White-rumped Sandpiper 2012 SU 28,570
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
A 1985 Quebec government proposal to dam the mouth of James Bay for hydro-electricity production would undoubtedly result in catastrophic effects to the James Bay estuarine and marine ecosystem if ever put into effect.

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.
   © Bird Studies Canada