Big Glace Bay Lake

Country/territory: Canada

IBA criteria met: -
For more information about IBA criteria, please click here

Area: 1,700 ha

Birds Canada / Nature Canada

Site description (baseline)
Big Glace Bay Lake is located on the northeast shore of Cape Breton Island, in eastern Nova Scotia, immediately adjoining the eastern border of the town of Glace Bay. The lake is actually a coastal lagoon enclosed by a barrier beach, with one tidal opening at the northeastern end. The barrier beach is comprised of gravel and sand, and sparse vegetation. More than half of the lagoon area is exposed at low tide as mud and sand flats or intertidal beds of eel grass. Industrial plants (thermal power, former heavy water) adjoin the western side of the lagoon. The shores of the lagoon are low-lying, although low cliffs fringe the seacoast to the east and west. In the winter, the sea usually remains open, except when winds press sea ice onshore in the spring. The tidal range at this site is 2 to 3 m.

Key biodiversity
Canada Geese from the Newfoundland and Labrador breeding population are found at Big Glace Bay Lake in significant numbers during the spring and fall migrations as well as in smaller numbers during the winter. A total of 1,500 birds, representing about 1.3% of the estimated population, are regularly observed at this site during spring migration.

Goose surveys at this site are sporadic, often not specifying which of several nearby areas (Lingan Bay, Big Glace Bay Lake, Morien Bay, Mira Bay) were used on each date, but continentally significant numbers are certainly found here. Maximum counts during spring have reached totals of 6,000 birds.

Although this site is regularly used by ducks, shorebirds and terns, high concentrations of these birds have not been recorded here. Willets and American Black Ducks frequent the salt marsh, and Piping Plovers have been recorded on the beach.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Big Glace Bay Lake. Downloaded from on 31/05/2023.