Betchouane Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) consists of three islands of the Mingan archipelago: Île Calculot des Betchouanes, Île Innu and a small unnamed and bare island situated between these two islands. The islands are located approximately 1.5 km off the north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Québec. This MBS is part of Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve, which has an information and interpretative centre located in Havre-Saint-Pierre. The boundaries of the Betchouane Migratory Bird Sanctuary begin approximately 500 m off the shores of Île Calculot de Betchouanes and Île Innu. The terrestrial portion of the MBS consists mostly of rocky outcrops, woodlands, shrubs and herbaceous vegetation. Innu Island has a spruce-balsam fir forest that covers about 20 hectares, and a 3.5 ha peat bog. The island of Calculot des Betchouanes is devoid of trees, but has herbaceous vegetation cover that reaches a height of two metres.
Continentally significant numbers of Common Eiders breed on the islands within the Betchouane Migratory Bird Sanctuary. The three-year average (1988,1993,1998) of nesting eiders is 1,870 pairs (2% of the eastern dresseri population).
This site also supports a high diversity of nesting seabirds. Seven of the eleven species found in the Mingan Archipelago breed on the islands. A 1993 survey of the bird sanctuary located 142 Razorbills,
144 Black-legged Kittiwakes, 1,006 Herring Gulls, and 112 Great Black-backed Gulls. In addition, 160 pairs of Atlantic Puffins nested on Île Calculot des Betchouanes in 1998. Ring-billed Gulls, Arctic and Common terns, and Black Guillemots have also been recorded nesting on the island in the late 1970s and early 1980s but have not nested here in recent years.
In winter, large flocks of Common Eiders are common in the waters surrounding the Mingan Islands archipelago (the waters are a separate IBA).
Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
These islands have never been modified by human activities, and because this area is a migratory bird sanctuary, it is fairly well protected. Egg poaching at this site was once a major concern, but increased surveillance from park wardens since 1984 has controlled this illegal activity. Eider populations were negatively affected by poaching, but have rebounded in recent years.
The St. Lawrence Seaway is one of the busiest waterways in North America. A large oil spill could have a devastating effect on waterbird populations in the Mingan Archipelago area.