Awrey Island

Site description (2001 baseline):

Site location and context
Awrey Island is a tiny island located in northeastern Hudson Bay about one km from the eastern shoreline of Mansel Island. It is covered by low-lying tundra and has a rocky shoreline, much like the nearby coast of Mansel Island. The island is young, having emerged from the sea less than 2000 years ago. This entire area is still experiencing isostatic rebound as a result of the disappearance of the continental ice sheet within the past 10,000 years.

Key biodiversity
This isolated island provides excellent nesting habitat for breeding Common Eiders. As many as 1000 pairs of Common Eider were recorded at this site during the early 1980s (more recent surveys have not been completed). The eiders are presumably of the northern borealis subspecies, and the colony likely represent just over 1% of this subspecies' population. The borealis subspecies breeds farther north than the other two subspecies dresseri and sedentaria.

Common Eiders are marine ducks that primarily eat molluscs and other sea-living invertebrates. Their choice of breeding habitat usually consists of low rocky shores on isolated islands, but they also nest inland on tundra near pools and rivers. If the Awrey Island colony is similar to others in the eastern Arctic, the eiders probably arrive at the site in late May. Once the ice has broken up they start to nest. The ducklings hatch through July and early August, and by the end of August the eiders have left for their wintering grounds.

Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
Despite the lack of formal protection for this island, there are no known threats, presumably due to its isolated nature. Oil pollution can seriously impact eiders, along with other seabirds, but there is little shipping activity in this area and currently no oil exploration. In the early 1990s, Awrey Island was identified as a Key Migratory Bird Terrestrial Habitat site in the Northwest Territories.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Awrey Island. Downloaded from on 28/09/2023.