Site description (2001 baseline)
Niskibi Cape is located on the southern Hudson Bay coast, midway between the mouth of the Severn River, and the Manitoba border. The mouth of the Niskibi River lies about 10 km to the northwest. At the cape, wide intertidal marshes and shallow shoals extend offshore for about one km into Hudson Bay. Onshore, the coastline is characterized by a series of beach ridges that extend about 20 km southeast to about 40 km northwest of the Cape. The older beach ridges are covered with heath lichen tundra and increasing amounts of scrub farther inland. Numerous small lakes and wide marshes extend 10 to 15 km inland from Hudson Bay, amid the ridges. The ridges near the coast serve as a calving area for Woodland Caribou, a nationally vulnerable species.
The Niskibi Cape and adjacent coastline supports significant numbers of moulting waterfowl during the summer months, and large numbers of staging geese during both the spring and fall migration. There are also reports of relatively large numbers of nesting Tundra Swans.
In 1994, an aerial survey recorded over 1% of the eastern North American Black Scoter population off Niskibi Cape during the summer moult period. In addition to the Black Scoters, large numbers of other duck species have been recorded moulting in the area. In terms of significance, it has been suggested that the Niskibi Cape ranks with many of the major prairie moulting areas. Large numbers of nesting dabbling ducks are also present with some of the highest densities in the entire Hudson Bay Lowlands being recorded at the Cape.
Both Lesser Snow Geese and Canada Geese use the Niskibi Cape as a staging area during migration. The number of birds utilizing the site, however, is somewhat uncertain due to a lack of specific studies. The Cape is very isolated, and surveys are difficult and expensive. During the early 1990s, the number of Snow Geese recorded at the site ranged from 10,000 to 20,000 birds per day during spring migration and during the early 1980s, 15,000 to 20,000 per day during fall migration. Considering turnover rates, the total number of birds using the site is much larger, and likely exceeds the 1% threshold for the Hudson Bay Snow Goose population.
During the fall migration, between 2,500 to 5,000 Canada Geese have also been recorded during one-day surveys. It is likely that these geese originate from either the Tall Grass Prairie population (ssp. hutchinsii) that breeds to the northwest of Hudson Bay and migrate through the Hudson Bay Lowland, or the Mississippi Valley population (ssp. interior) that breeds in the Hudson Bay Lowland. Once again, considering turnover rates, it is likely that the 1% threshold for one or both of these populations is exceeded.
BirdLife International (2024) Important Bird Area factsheet: Niskibi Cape. Downloaded from https://datazone.birdlife.org/site/factsheet/niskibi-cape-iba-canada on 21/02/2024.