Year of compilation: 2001
Protected from the prevailing south-westerly winds by the sandspit, extensive marshes have formed in its lee or northern side. The Inner Bay (approximately 28,000 ha) encompasses the open water from the Big Creek marshes in the west to an imaginary line drawn from Turkey Point to Pottahawk Point in the east. The northern and western shores are fringed by shallow marshes, with the extensive marshes of Turkey Point in the northeast corner and those of Long Point to the south and west. The moderating effect of Lake Erie, combined with the southern geographic location of Long Point, allows a number of plants and animals to survive here at the northern fringe of their North American range.
In addition to waterfowl, the Long Point area also supports an exceptional number and diversity of resident and migrant landbirds. A total of 367 bird species have been recorded at Long Point to date. This represents approximately 85% of the species that have been recorded thus far in Ontario. About 120 species have nested in the area and on average, about 260 species of birds are recorded each year.
The Long Point Bird Observatory operates three migration monitoring stations on the spit. As of the end of 1995, they had banded 522,244 birds of 265 different species. Using the estimated daily totals of migrant birds in each of the three census areas it has been estimated that the average number of migrants using the area is 2.4 million individuals in the spring and 7 million in the fall.
Several nationally threatened bird species nest in the Long Point area including nationally significant numbers of King Rail (endangered), Least Bittern (vulnerable), and Prothonotary Warbler (endangered). Red-headed Woodpecker (nationally vulnerable) are also present, but not in nationally significant numbers. Local populations of all of these species appear to have declined in recent years and some may be extirpated or only occasional breeders. Long Point formerly supported a significant breeding population of Piping Plovers (globally vulnerable; nationally endangered) but the last recorded evidence of attempted breeding was in 1981. This species is now very rarely seen during migration. However, suitable breeding habitat still remains.
The presence of the significant natural features at Long Point is largely due to the stewardship of the Long Point Company. They have owned and managed a large portion of the Point for duck hunting since 1866. More recently, the Canadian Wildlife Service has become active in the conservation of the area through the establishment of National Wildlife Areas in 1973 and 1979. Other major tenants who manage their land for conservation include the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Long Point Region Conservation Authority, Ducks Unlimited, and at least five different private waterfowl clubs.
Although much of the area is protected through ownership by conservation interests, there are direct threats to non-protected wetlands due to proposals to convert the marsh for agricultural or recreational purposes. In addition to direct loss of habitat through development, disturbance to resting flocks of waterfowl by motor boats is also a serious concern. To counter this threat public awareness programs have been undertaken. Other threats include the potential for off-site developments that may interfere with the shoreline transport of sand that forms Long Point or the artificial manipulation of Great Lakes water levels.
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Long Point Peninsula and Marshes. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 29/11/2020.