IBA Cobequid Bay
Bay of Fundy (near Truro), Nova Scotia
Site Summary
NS019 Latitude
45.345° N
63.697° W
0 - 5 m
477.68 km²
salt marshes/brackish marshes, tidal rivers/estuaries, mud or sand flats (saline), inlets/coastal features (marine), arable & cultivated lands
Land Use:
Agriculture, Nature conservation and research, Rangeland/pastureland, Tourism/recreation
Potential or ongoing Threats:
Agricultural pollution/pesticides, Disturbance
IBA Criteria: Globally Significant: Congregatory Species, Shorebird Concentrations, Continentally Significant: Congregatory Species
Conservation status: Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (potential)
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Site Description
The eastern arm of the Bay of Fundy can be divided into two areas: the lower Minas Basin (IBA # NS020) and the upper Cobequid Bay. Cobequid Bay is a long (40 km) point-shaped bay that widens from 1.5 km at its eastern end, to 15 km at its juncture with Minas Basin. The coast and shoreline of the bay consists of beaches and mudflats with substrates ranging from fine silts to coarse sands, depending on the currents and distances to various sediment sources. At low tide, vast areas of mud and sand flats, and salt marshes are exposed - the result of the highest tides in the world (up to 16 m), which are found in the Bay of Fundy. The rich red-brown mud harbors millions of the amphipod, the Fundy mud shrimp (Corophium volutator), a vital food source for many shorebirds, particularly Semipalmated Sandpipers. The Cobequid Bay IBA includes the following areas: Economy, Highland Village, Little Dyke, Black Rock, Stirling Brook, Noel Shore, Noel Bay and Moose Cove.
Between 1 and 2 million shorebirds use the mud flats of the head of the Bay of Fundy (in this and other adjacent IBAs) in the fall for staging before the southern migration. The availability of such a prodigious food supply attracts 50 to 95% of the world total of Semipalmated Sandpipers, along with many other species of shorebirds, to the Bay of Fundy. The Cobequid Bay and other regions in the Bay of Fundy are the last and most important stopovers for the sandpipers, where they build up fat stores enabling them to make the long non-stop southward migration flight over the Atlantic Ocean to South America in three to four days. In July and early August, over 40,000 Semipalmated Sandpipers (representing approximately 1.2% of the global population) have been recorded in Cobequid Bay. In addition, over 10% of the North American population of Semipalmated Plovers were counted in Cobequid Bay. Black-bellied Plovers are the only shorebirds that are found at the Bay of Fundy in equally large concentrations during both spring and fall migration, when up to almost 1000 have been observed. These numbers are based on data from 1974 to 1983 using an improved estimation method that was reported in Canadian Field Naturalist in 1993.

The diversity of shorebirds found in the Bay of Fundy in the fall also includes: Red Knot, Sanderling, Least Sandpiper, Dunlin, Short-billed Dowitcher and White-rumped Sandpipers.

In addition to the shorebirds, substantial migrations of Canada Geese (2.6% of Newfoundland and Labrador population) can be seen in Cobequid Bay.

IBA Criteria
SpeciesT | A | I Links Date Season Number G C N
Purple Sandpiper 1990 - 1991 WI 194 - 215
Savannah Sparrow 2016 - 2019 FA 20 - 25
Semipalmated Plover 1994 - 2020 FA 1,500 - 5,497
Semipalmated Sandpiper 2014 FA 20,000 - 30,000
Semipalmated Sandpiper 1994 SU 43,536
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
Cobequid Bay is a proposed Hemispheric Shorebird Reserve, under the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN). Many shorebird surveys have been conducted between 1975 and 1987 but, aside from an aerial survey in 1997, there have been no recent studies. There is some concern about excessive use of the beaches at high tide, including disturbances from dogs that are not leashed.

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.
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