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Scatarie Island (NS052)

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Scatarie Island (NS052)

Main-a-Dieu, Nova Scotia

Latitude 46.013°N
Longitude 59.732°W
Altitude 0m
Area 67.65km²

Site Description

Scaterie Island is a large forested island, in the Atlantic Ocean, off the easternmost tip of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. The rocky shores lead to stunted forests of spruce and Balsam Fir. The trees are small because of a combination of high winds off the ocean and cool temperatures. In addition to forests, heath barrens and sphagnum bogs are found here. In July the mean daily temperature is below 150C and fog is frequent throughout the summer and fall.

Birds

Scaterie Island is thought to hold between 10 to 25 territorial male Bicknells Thrushes, although no systematic survey has been done. This would not be an insignificant number for a species with a total global population of between 5,000 and 15,000. Twenty-five pairs would represent about 1% of the Canadian population of Bicknells Thrush.

This species has an interesting history. First named Bicknells Thrush near the end of the last century, the species has gone back and forth between being a full species and a subspecies of the Gray-cheeked Thrush. Following the recent re-designation as a full species, there has been a flurry of research and interest in the species. It is often difficult to study because it breeds in isolated areas and builds nests in dense vegetation that are incredibly hard to find.

An unknown number, perhaps several thousand pairs, of Leachs Storm-Petrels also breed on Scaterie Island. Since no survey has been done of this species, it is not known how big this potentially important colony is. From mid-July to September, large numbers of southward-migrating Whimbrels feed inland on the fruits of crowberries, foxberries, blueberries, bake-apples and cranberries. Buff-breasted Sandpipers are occasionally seen here as well.

Conservation Issues

Scaterie Island was formerly a Wildlife Management Area that is now (as of 1998) a Protected Area of Nova Scotia. A management plan is in the process of being written, and thus the regulations for the use of the island have not been established. For instance, while development will not be allowed, the use of ATVs and other motorized vehicles has not yet been settled. Although the island is uninhabited now (it was settled in the past, and a lighthouse and a few old farms remain) it is still visited fairly frequently by campers, hunters (a few of whom hunt Whimbrel), fishermen, sea-kayakers and others pursuing various outdoor recreational activities. These visitors may occasionally disturb nesting or migrating birds.

IBA Criteria Habitats Land Uses Potential or Ongoing Threats Conservation Status
Bicknell's Thrush
Number Year Season
501995Summer
Savannah Sparrow
Number Year Season
251998Fall