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Pelee Island Natural Areas (ON013)

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Pelee Island Natural Areas (ON013)

Southwest Lake Erie, Ontario

Latitude 41.770°N
Longitude 82.649°W
Altitude 174 - 185.5m
Area 58.62km²

Site Description

Pelee Island is the largest island in the western Lake Erie archipelago. It has an average frost-free period of 195 days longer than any other part of Ontario and most of Ohio. This climate allows for a growing season equivalent to that of West Virginia, which results in a mix of plant communities that are found nowhere else in Canada or in any of the adjacent U.S. states. Large areas of Chinquapin Oak alvar-savanna (a vegetation community of global significance) are located in many of the remaining natural areas. Other vegetative communities, such as the deciduous forests and marshes at Lighthouse Point and Fish Point Provincial Nature Reserves also support significant natural communities, with over 50 rare plant species being present. In addition to rare plants, numerous rare animals are also present including: the nationally endangered Lake Erie Water Snake and Blue Racer, nationally threatened Eastern Fox Snake, nationally vulnerable Smallmouth Salamander, and Grey Fox.

Birds

Pelee Island supports one of the largest concentrations of nesting Yellow-breasted Chats (nationally vulnerable) in eastern Canada. At least 10 to 20 nesting pairs are present on an annual basis. This estimate would represent about one-third of the eastern Canada population.

Pelee Island also supports large concentrations of songbirds during both the spring and fall migrations, especially in the Fish Point and Lighthouse Point Nature Reserves. In addition to the more abundant species such as warblers and sparrows, several threatened species, such as Henslows Sparrow (near threatened globally, nationally endangered), Prothonotary Warbler (nationally endangered), and Hooded Warblers (nationally threatened) are present. Both Prothonotary Warblers and Hooded Warblers have nested on the island but not in large numbers and not on a regular basis. Other common nesters in the islands natural areas include Red-bellied Woodpecker, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and Carolina Wren.

Several waterbird species often congregate in the marshes, on the sandbars, and in the waters off the island. Thousands of Double-crested Cormorants are regularly observed, along with various shorebird, gull, and heron species such as: Dunlin, Herring Gulls, Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, and Black-crowned Night-Herons. Many of the herons, cormorants and gulls likely originate from the nesting colonies on the other small islands in the archipelago (Middle Island, East Sister Island, etc.). These nesting colonies have also been identified as IBAs. Formerly, a very large Black-crowned Night-Heron colony was located at Fish Point (900 pairs in 1971), but this colony appears to have shifted to Middle Island (to the south of Pelee Island) in 1980.

Conservation Issues

The greatest threat to the Yellow-breasted Chat habitat is succession. In the later part of the 20th century, the number of island farmers has plummeted, while the size of farms have increased, resulting in the abandonment of many farmsteads and traditional farming practices (cattle grazing, widespread and small-scale burns etc.). Additionally, a significant portion of the Yellow-breasted Chat habitat remains unprotected and could be threatened by aggregate resource extraction.

IBA Criteria Habitats Land Uses Potential or Ongoing Threats Conservation Status
Red-breasted Merganser
Number Year Season
3,5002014Spring
2,170 - 3,0452011Fall
5,000 - 9,0002011Spring
2,920 - 3,8402005Fall
2,6502004Fall
Greater Scaup
Number Year Season
15,0002013Winter
Double-crested Cormorant
Number Year Season
13,000 - 17,5002016Fall
14,1502010Fall
12,2002006Fall
01992Summer
41990Summer
221988Summer
501981Summer
Bonaparte's Gull
Number Year Season
3,000 - 4,0002014Spring
Rusty Blackbird
Number Year Season
1002017Spring
35 - 502016Fall
262016Spring
30 - 452015Fall
30 - 652014Spring
232013Fall
352013Spring
842012Fall
24 - 1502012Spring
28 - 1222011Fall
302011Spring
25 - 622010Fall
522010Summer
25 - 1252009Fall
25 - 1902008Fall
23 - 452007Fall
24 - 1112006Fall
27 - 6212005Fall
29 - 312005Spring
24 - 602004Fall
292004Spring
25 - 642003Fall
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Number Year Season
1,8001971Summer
Little Gull
Number Year Season
31996Fall
Yellow-breasted Chat
Number Year Season
12016Summer
22015Summer
12014Spring
12013Spring
12012Summer
12012Spring
12011Spring
12010Spring
12009Spring
12008Spring
12007Fall
1 - 22006Fall
12005Fall
12005Spring
12004Spring
12003Summer
1 - 22003Spring
11999Summer
61997Summer
401996Summer
201995Summer
1 - 21995Spring
3 - 81991Summer
21990Spring
121988Summer
121982Summer
Acadian Flycatcher
Number Year Season
12017Spring
12016Summer
12016Spring
12014Summer
12014Spring
12013Summer
12013Spring
1 - 22012Spring
1 - 32011Spring
1 - 22010Spring
12009Spring
12008Summer
12008Spring
12007Summer
12007Spring
12006Summer
22005Summer
11993Spring
??Other
Prothonotary Warbler
Number Year Season
12017Summer
12016Spring
12015Fall
1 - 22015Spring
12014Fall
12014Spring
12013Spring
22012Spring
1 - 22011Fall
1 - 22011Spring
12010Fall
12010Spring
12009Spring
12006Spring
12005Spring
12004Spring
??Other
Henslow's Sparrow
Number Year Season
12011Spring
11997Summer
??Spring
King Rail
Number Year Season
12009Spring
??Other
Kirtland's Warbler
Number Year Season
12011Spring
12009Spring
Chimney Swift
Number Year Season
242016Fall
232009Fall