Country/territory: Norway

IBA criteria met: A1, B1i, B2, B3 (2014)
For more information about IBA criteria, please click here

Area: 6,400 ha

Norsk Ornitologisk Forening
IBA conservation status
Year of assessment (most recent) State (condition) Pressure (threat) Response (action)
2019 not assessed medium not assessed
For more information about IBA monitoring, please click here

Site description (2000 baseline)
Sørkjosen is the most important among several large tidal areas in Balsfjord, being the outlet of two rivers at the head of the fjord. The tidal zone stretches from Markenes in the east to Storsteinnes in the west, consisting of large areas of mud, sand and gravel-banks, and extends as far as 700 m out. Along the shoreline there is some woodland of alder Alnus and birch Betula, a medium-sized coastal meadow, agricultural fields, and some industrial areas. Offshore, outside the IBA, are important fishing areas and spawning grounds for herring Clupea harengus and capelin Mallotus villosus.

Key biodiversity
Huge flocks of Calidris canutus stage here on the way to their breeding grounds in Greenland and northern Canada, arriving in early May and peaking at several tens of thousands before departing at the end of the month. In late winter, large flocks of seaduck gather in Sørkjosen, feeding on the eggs of capelin and herring. One or two Falco rusticolus sometimes hunt in the area.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Important Bird Area factsheet: Balsfjord. Downloaded from on 22/02/2024.