Île Rouge is located almost in the middle of the St. Lawrence lower estuary, near the mouth of the Saguenay River. It is most easily accessible by boat from Baie-Sainte-Catherine village, which lies 13 kilometres to the northwest on the north shore. The study area includes both terrestrial and shoreline habitats, down to the tides’ lowest limits. The shoreline consists of rounded pebbles, scarce vegetation and a sand bar that is exposed off its eastern tip at low tide. A lighthouse and cottage are also located on the island.
Île Rouge is the main resting area for shorebirds migrating and feeding in the region from La Malbaie to Pointe-des-Monts on the north shore, and from La Pocatière to Matane on the south shore; this represents a substantial part of the St. Lawrence estuary. During surveys in 1981, it held 32% of all the shorebirds observed at the main concentration sites of the mid- and marine St. Lawrence estuary. The density of individuals was calculated to be approximately 2,680 birds per hectare. The highest one-day tally of all shorebirds was 13,401 individuals. Black-bellied Plovers outnumbered all others, with 10,000 being present at one time, possibly representing 7% of the North American population. This island is considered by some to be eastern North America’s most important stopover site for this species.
Other shorebirds present in large numbers are Purple Sandpiper, with 300 birds recorded in the winter of 1999 (3% of the North American population) and Ruddy Turnstone, with 890 birds recorded in 1981. Up to 2,500 Semipalmated Sandpipers have been seen here. Many gulls use this site for resting, for example in September 1996, 5,000 Black-legged Kittiwakes, 1,000 Herring Gulls and 700 Great Black-backed Gulls were seen. During the 1995 breeding season, Herring Gull (550 pairs), Ring-billed Gull (1,900), and Common Eider (336 pairs 1992-5 avg.) could all be found nesting in colonies on the island. In winter, there are flocks of up to 1,100 American Black Ducks and 8,621 Oldsquaw in the waters around the island.
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Île Rouge. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 14/04/2021.