Bird Island

Country/territory: South Africa

IBA Criteria met: A1, A4i, A4ii, A4iii (1998)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 3 ha

Protection status:

BirdLife South Africa
Most recent IBA monitoring assessment
Year of assessment Threat score (pressure) Condition score (state) Action score (response)
2013 high unfavourable high
For more information about IBA monitoring please click here

Site description
Situated on the Atlantic coast, c.150 km north of Cape Town, this small island lies in Lambert’s Bay harbour, extremely close to shore. A concrete causeway that forms the fishing harbour has linked the island to the mainland since 1959. Rising to only 7.6 m, the island is rocky and virtually devoid of vegetation.

Key biodiversity
See Box for key species. Historically this island was dominated by Spheniscus demersus and was devoid of breeding Morus capensis. It would appear that the gannets only colonized this island in 1912; today, it is one of only six localities where they breed. The birds form a single undivided colony in the centre of the island. Breeding numbers have fluctuated dramatically; the population declined steadily between 1956 and 1967, but by 1971 it had recovered, and by 1981 it was 50% larger than it had been in 1971. Numbers of breeding birds have continued to increase since the early 1980s. Phalacrocorax capensis have also nested extensively on the island, occasionally reaching numbers of 61,000 birds. Numbers of Spheniscus demersus halved between the late 1970s and early 1990s, and have subsequently dwindled to a handful of breeding birds. Phalacrocorax coronatus, Larus dominicanus and, occasionally, Sterna bergii breed on the outlying rocks. Phalacrocorax neglectus ceased breeding in 1997, and now only a few roost on the island. Larus hartlaubii and various species of tern roost in large numbers.

Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2019) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Bird Island. Downloaded from on 14/11/2019.