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Niagara River Corridor (ON002)

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Niagara River Corridor (ON002)

Niagara Falls, Ontario

Latitude 43.052°N
Longitude 79.006°W
Altitude 74 - 177m
Area 184.47km²

Site Description

The Niagara River flows 60 km from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. In addition to being a major tourist destination, it provides drinking water, recreational fishing, employment, and electrical power to millions of people. The river is bordered by urban areas, industrial developments, and agricultural lands with parkland areas and remnant natural areas being interspersed. For a 15 km stretch downstream from the falls the river flows through a 100 m deep and 1 km wide gorge. The riverine habitats are quite varied, ranging from large lake-like areas, exposed boulder beds, rapids, falls, whirlpools, and stretches with swift currents. Within the gorge, the cliff rim, cliff face, and talus slope communities support one of the highest concentrations of rare plant species in Ontario.

Birds

The Niagara River annually supports one of the largest and most diverse concentrations of gulls in the world. More than 100,000 individuals can be observed foraging along the river during fall and early winter. A total of 19 gull species have been recorded (60% of all New World gull species), with up to 14 species being recorded on a single day. The number of gulls and diversity of species generally peak in November. Two species occur in globally significant numbers, Bonaparte's Gull and Herring Gull, while Ring-billed Gull nearly reaches 1% ot its respective estimated total global population.

During fall and early winter 10,000 or more Bonaparte's Gulls can regularly be observed along the river (over 2.5% of its global population). Peaks of more than 40,000 individuals have been observed on several occasions (1973, 1977, 1990, 1991, and 2009) representing over 10% of its global population. Over the course of the fall and early winter season up to 100,000 birds have been estimated to pass through this site (over 25% of its global population).

Herring Gulls are also abundant; 20,000 or more individuals can be observed regularly with a maximum of 50,000 individuals being reported on a single day. This represents the regular occurrence about 5% of the North American Herring Gull population with nearly 14% of the population being reported on a single day. Ring-billed Gulls are also present in large numbers, exceeding 20,000 individuals.

Waterfowl concentrations during fall and winter also regularly exceed 20,000 individuals with more than 20 species represented. Canvasbacks and Greater Scaup are occasionally present in significant numbers, or numbers exceeding 1% of their respective estimated North American populations.

Some specific sites along the river corridor are also significant for colonial nesters such as Black-crowned Night Herons, Common Terns, and Ring-billed Gulls. Due to the regional geography, large numbers of migrating raptors and landbirds cross the river during migration, however they do not stop in large numbers along the river corridor. Lastly, about 20 speciesof birds identified as at risk by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) have also been observed using this area.

Conservation Issues

The Niagara River corridor was the first globally significant IBA to be jointly identified by cooperating organizations in Canada and the United States. It was formally dedicated in December 1996.

There is no comprehensive protection for the Niagara River Corridor. Currently, toxic pollutants remain one of the largest potential threats. As such, the Niagara river is targeted as an Area of Concern under the Great Lakes Remedial Action Plan, and is the focus of the Niagara River Toxics Management Plan. Substantial reductions of key pollutants have been achieved at several point sources along the river.

The corridor comprises several municipal jurisdictions and the pressure for urban development is high. Retention of natural habitats and land use planning will be important. Little is known about the food or other ecological resources that support these large populations of gulls. A conservation plan for this IBA is being developed through a coalition of interested groups.

IBA Criteria Habitats Land Uses Potential or Ongoing Threats Conservation Status
Bonaparte's Gull
Number Year Season
3,500 - 9,3132016Winter
3,000 - 3,1462016Fall
4,216 - 8,0002015Winter
7,200 - 11,7142015Fall
4,4852014Fall
4,200 - 5,5732013Winter
3,200 - 10,0002013Fall
7,905 - 8,0002013Spring
3,412 - 12,0002012Winter
9,6632012Spring
3,946 - 10,0002011Winter
4,000 - 8,0002011Fall
4,000 - 10,0002010Winter
6,000 - 30,0002010Fall
7,0002010Spring
7,600 - 70,0002009Winter
3,500 - 70,0002009Fall
3,5992008Winter
3,000 - 5,1972008Fall
4,000 - 5,2402007Winter
3,228 - 6,0002006Winter
4,000 - 10,0002006Fall
5,000 - 10,0002005Fall
3,7692004Winter
5,0002004Fall
3,000 - 10,0002003Winter
4,580 - 4,6002003Fall
3,192 - 50,0002002Winter
4,9502002Spring
4,140 - 10,0002001Winter
5,0002001Fall
4,295 - 15,5002000Winter
3,000 - 10,8752000Fall
4,100 - 15,0001999Winter
3,0001999Fall
4,2401999Spring
3,920 - 10,6201998Winter
4,5501998Fall
4,2501998Spring
6,215 - 12,4401997Winter
11,200 - 50,0001997Spring
8,000 - 20,3181996Winter
16,2701996Spring
10,1341995Winter
5,000 - 100,0001995Fall
22,4681994Winter
3,190 - 4,0001993Winter
5,000 - 9,6181992Winter
3,000 - 40,0001991Winter
7,024 - 40,0001990Winter
50,0001979Fall
Herring Gull
Number Year Season
3,0002017Winter
2,800 - 9,7002016Winter
4,000 - 6,0622015Winter
3,000 - 3,5002015Fall
3,077 - 5,5002014Winter
5,000 - 5,2102014Fall
5,000 - 10,0002013Winter
3,0002013Fall
6,607 - 12,0002012Winter
5,0002012Fall
3,000 - 6,7762011Winter
3,000 - 5,7452010Winter
3,000 - 40,0002010Fall
3,419 - 35,0002009Winter
4,000 - 5,0002009Fall
9,0772008Winter
3,000 - 5,7152007Winter
3,1492006Winter
4,5002006Fall
3,4692005Winter
6,7432004Winter
4,958 - 5,0002003Winter
6,2942002Winter
5,000 - 10,0002002Fall
5,000 - 11,2792001Winter
3,716 - 10,0002000Winter
19,2401999Winter
14,3221998Winter
11,3071997Winter
16,7271996Winter
12,531 - 20,0001995Winter
15,4281994Winter
7,500 - 50,0001993Winter
14,1571992Winter
18,4581991Winter
27,4641990Winter
50,0001979Winter
Greater Scaup
Number Year Season
5,000 - 5,2342015Winter
6,0002014Spring
1,800 - 7,1412011Winter
4,7782010Winter
8,8352009Winter
13,900 - 18,6202008Winter
2,0002004Winter
4,0002003Fall
5,7732002Winter
10,5002000Winter
7,6001999Fall
30,0001999Winter
10,0001997Winter
7,8001996Winter
2,1351995Fall
5,8871993Winter
10,0311990Fall
2,1461985Fall
15,0001979Fall
2,2561975Fall
Red-breasted Merganser
Number Year Season
3,0002015Fall
2,0002014Spring
3,0002013Fall
1,7482012Winter
2,000 - 9,0002011Fall
2,5002011Winter
4,1002006Fall
6,0002000Winter
Canvasback
Number Year Season
5,7002013Winter
1,500 - 4,2262011Winter
3,5002010Winter
7,1762009Winter
1,0002003Winter
6,000 - 14,0001997Winter
Ring-billed Gull
Number Year Season
4,0002011Fall
10,0002010Fall
23,0002009Winter
32,0001998Summer
18,000 - 27,0001995Fall
Rusty Blackbird
Number Year Season
302013Fall
Little Gull
Number Year Season
2 - 42017Winter
2 - 62016Winter
22016Fall
32016Spring
22015Winter
2 - 92015Fall
22015Spring
2 - 52014Fall
2 - 122014Spring
22014Winter
2 - 52013Winter
22013Fall
3 - 902013Spring
2 - 142012Winter
22012Fall
2 - 1372012Spring
2 - 42011Winter
2 - 32011Fall
32011Spring
2 - 32010Winter
22010Fall
2 - 52010Spring
3 - 82009Winter
2 - 42009Fall
2 - 122008Winter
2 - 32008Fall
4 - 112008Spring
22007Winter
42007Fall
2 - 62006Winter
2 - 42006Fall
32006Spring
52005Winter
2 - 62005Fall
22005Spring
22004Winter
22004Fall
2 - 42003Winter
3 - 72003Spring
2 - 42002Winter
2 - 102002Spring
2 - 232001Winter
2 - 52001Fall
972001Spring
22000Winter
2 - 52000Fall
5 - 262000Spring
21999Fall
2 - 851999Spring
2 - 201999Winter
2 - 81998Winter
2 - 31998Fall
3 - 61998Spring
2 - 61997Winter
21997Fall
5 - 651997Spring
3 - 161996Winter
2 - 41996Fall
19 - 781996Spring
31995Winter
31995Fall
121995Spring
21994Fall
2 - 41993Winter
21992Winter
4 - 121991Winter
2 - 41990Fall
51990Winter
Red-throated Loon
Number Year Season
350 - 1,2052011Fall
Great Black-backed Gull
Number Year Season
1,5401999Winter
2,0891998Winter
Chimney Swift
Number Year Season
452016Fall
762014Fall
1452011Fall
2002008Fall
752000Fall
Acadian Flycatcher
Number Year Season
12016Summer
Loggerhead Shrike
Number Year Season
12005Spring
Waterbirds
Number Year Season
73,5941990Fall
Red-headed Woodpecker
Number Year Season
122012Fall
Bufflehead
Number Year Season