Marais de Pointe-au-Père

Country/territory: Canada

IBA Criteria met: A4i, A4iii (2008)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 780 ha

Protection status:

Birds Canada / Nature Canada

Site description
Marais de Pointe-au-Père (Pointe-au-Père marsh) is located on the south shore of the upper St. Lawrence estuary, within the urban area of Pointe-au Père, 5 km east of Rimouski. The site includes Pointe-au-Père National Wildlife Area and the coastal areas surrounding the National Wildlife Area. From the open water to the land, the area is a mosaic of wetlands, consisting of spartina marsh, with small patches of sedge, and grassy areas, followed by a shrub cover that extends beyond the extreme high tide mark. A large part of this zone is regularly flooded at high tide. The St. Anne River crosses the site from east to west and most of the surrounding land is urban. An abandoned federally-owned wharf, which will be soon partly demolished and converted into an urban park, is also included in the site.

Key biodiversity
Marais de Point-au-Père is a significant stopover site for waterfowl and shorebirds, in both spring and fall. Greater Snow Goose is the dominant waterfowl species in spring, with globally significant numbers of 25,000 (almost 4% of the North American Greater Snow Goose population) passing through the site. Barrow’s Goldeneye is also present in spring, with as many as 150 birds recorded at one time; this number represents 5% of the eastern continental population.

The coastal marsh habitat here is one of six locations in the mid and lower St. Lawrence estuary that are considered exceptional for the Common Eider. Although eiders do not nest in high numbers, the marsh is very important to the survival of the regional breeding population. The site is especially important for feeding and brood rearing. Groups of over 1,000 are regularly present during the post-breeding dispersal period but a count of 2,600 in August 1991 was continentally significant.

During spring migration, Greater Yellowlegs, Least Sandpiper and Short-billed Dowitcher use the site in globally significant numbers. In 1972, 1,000 Least Sandpipers were counted (just over 1% of the global population). In 1983 and 1985, over 1% of the global populations of Greater Yellowlegs (250 birds) and Short-billed Dowitcher (1,365 birds) respectively, were recorded. In fall migration, an additional four shorebird species use the site in globally significant numbers. In 1986, 1,600 Ruddy Turnstones (4% of the global population), 2,000 White-rumped Sandpipers (4% of the global population) and 3,000 Dunlin (ssp. hudsonia) (3% of the global population) were recorded. Finally, more than 1,000 Black-bellied Plovers have been recorded, which is a globally significant concentration. Other, less abundant shorebird species that use this site include Lesser Yellowlegs, Whimbrel, Red Knot, Pectoral and Purple Sandpiper. Semipalmated Sandpiper is the most common shorebird at this site; in 1985, 4,500 birds were counted.

Of the 120 species recorded at Marais de Pointe-au-Père, about 20 are known to breed on site. Three species that are classified as nationally at risk occur at this site in small numbers during migration: Short-eared Owl (vulnerable), Peregrine Falcon (threatened) and the eastern population of Harlequin Duck (endangered).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Marais de Pointe-au-Père. Downloaded from on 12/04/2021.