Site description (2015 baseline)
Cape Bird is situated at the northwestern extremity of Ross Island at the foot of Mount Bird, where a nearby ice free point extends ~10 km along the coast, and includes McDonald Beach and Caughley Beach. Three Adélie Penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) colonies occupy this coast, known informally as ‘Northern', ‘Middle' and ‘Southern' rookeries.
The IBA qualifies on the basis of the Adélie Penguin and South Polar Skua (Catharacta maccormicki) colonies present and comprises the ice-free area at Caughley Beach. The IBA includes ASPA No. 116 New College Valley (designated for its extensive moss beds and associated microflora and fauna) and the Cape Bird Hut (NZL).
The nearest permanent scientific stations are Scott Base (NZL) and McMurdo (USA), situated ~67 km to the south on Hut Point Peninsula, Ross Island.
The Caughley Beach colony (‘Northern Rookery') is the largest of the three colonies at Cape Bird with ~40 000 Adélie Penguin breeding pairs (count approximate, Coats 2010). See IBA McDonald Beach for a description of mean population counts between 1981 and 2012 for all three Cape Bird colonies and information on other birds that have been observed in the vicinity.
South Polar Skuas nest inside ASPA No. 116, although numbers are not known (ASPA No.116 Management Plan 2011). Wilson et al. (in prep.) estimated 140 breeding pairs of South Polar Skua within 1000 m of the Adélie Penguin colony at Caughley Beach (P. Lyver pers. comm. 2015).
Non-bird biodiversity: Weddell (Leptonychotes weddellii), Crabeater (Lobodon carcinophagus) and Leopard (Hydrurga leptonyx) seals, as well as Killer Whales (Orcinus orca), have been observed in the vicinity.
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Caughley Beach, Cape Bird. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org/site/factsheet/caughley-beach-cape-bird-iba-antarctica on 04/12/2023.