Gyrfalcon Islands

Year of compilation: 2001

Site description
The Gyrfalcon Islands are a group of over 200 small islands found along the western Ungava Bay coast. There are no nearby communities. The closest community is Kuujjuaq (formerly Fort Chimo), 120 kilometers to the southeast. These islands are subjected to high, powerful tides that scour the shorelines, leaving little vegetation. Tundra plants, such as Arctic Willow, Crowberry, sedges, mosses and lichens are located well away from the shoreline.

Key biodiversity
The Gyrfalcon Islands are one of a few areas in the Ungava Bay that support a significant number of breeding Common Eiders, subspecies borealis. There are estimated to be 93,000 eider pairs of this subspecies. Thus, the 3,600 pairs found on the Gyrfalcon Islands represent about 4% of the borealis subspecies. Breeding range, differences in bill shape, and a less extensive wash of green on the head of the males, distinguish this subspecies from others. The other subspecies of this mollusc-feeding sea duck are found across the Canadian Arctic, northern Europe and Asia.

Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
The eider population of the Gyrfalcon Islands, like the rest of the borealis population is believed to be stable. The potential threats listed above are not expected to become problems unless the local situation changes significantly. There is some harvesting of eggs and adults, but the numbers taken are thought to have a negligible impact on the population. Also, although eider colonies are quite sensitive to human disturbance the human presence on the islands is still very small.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Gyrfalcon Islands. Downloaded from on 18/08/2022.