Les îles Pèlerins are a group of five islands found 4 km off the south shore of the St. Lawrence estuary near the town of St-André, Québec. St-André is approximately 20 km west of Rivère-du-Loup. The five islands are Le Gros Pèlerin (22 ha), Le Pèlerin du Milieu (35 ha), Le Pèlerin du Jardin (23 ha), Le Long Pèlerin (45 ha) and Le Petit Pèlerin (12 ha). These islands, composed largely of quartzite, have shorelines that rise rather abruptly to elevations often exceeding 30 m above sea level. Cliffs exceeding 45 m occur along the northwest shores of the islands of Le Gros Pèlerin and Le Long Pèlerin. Coniferous forest covers all five islands and is mainly composed of White Spruce, Balsam Fir, Jack Pine and Red Pine. With the exception of Le Long Pèlerin, where there is a lighthouse, these islands have always been uninhabited. The islands have a mean annual temperature of 3°C and a mean tidal amplitude of 3.5 m.
Les îles Pèlerins hosts large colonies of breeding seabirds. All five islands are used as nesting sites. The average size of the large Razorbill colony is 2017 birds (5 year, 1974 –1999). This number represents roughly 3% of the North American breeding population of this species and the colony is also of interest because it is one of the westernmost location of Razorbills in the St. Lawrence estuary. Another alcid, the Black Guillemot is also very abundant – an average of 731 birds nest here annually (4 year, 1974 –1999).
Between 1965 to 1970, an minimum of 1,000 Herring Gull nests were estimated to be present across the five islands, and when counted in 1990, 1,255 nests were found. This number is about 1% of the estimated breeding population in North America. Numbers of breeding Double-crested Cormorant have been very high at times – 1,500 pairs in 1945, and between 1000 and 2000 pairs throughout most of the 1970s and 1980s - but more recently only a few hundred cormorants have bred on the islands.
In addition, Les îles Pèlerins supports several other colonially nesting birds. These species are: Common Eider, Black-crowned Night-Heron (380 nests peak, 11 most recently in 1990), Great Blue Heron (75 nests peak, 17 in 1990), Great Black-backed Gull (84 in 1990), and Black-legged Kittiwake (277 in 1999). There used to be a few hundred pairs of Common Eiders breeding throughout the islands, but numbers declined in the 1990s, at least partly due to Red Fox predation. Foxes were known to be on Le Pèlerin du Milieu between 1995 and 1998, and may have present on other islands as well.
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Îles Pèlerins. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 29/11/2020.