North Belcher Islands

Country/territory: Canada

IBA Criteria met: -
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 62 ha

Birds Canada / Nature Canada

Site description
The North Belcher Islands are located in eastern Hudson Bay, about 60 km northeast of the Sanikiluaq, a native community located on the main group of the Belcher Islands. The Belcher Islands are an archipelago located about 100 to 175 km off of the coast of Northern Québec. The North Belcher?s are composed of three large islands (Split, Johnson and Laddie) and approximately 700 small islands. Most of the smaller islands are low-lying with exposed bedrock and extensive areas of cobble and gravel. North of Laddie Island, however, the smaller islands have higher elevations with steep sides of exposed bedrock and sparse vegetation. Southwest of Split Island, the islands are composed entirely of cobbles and boulders.

Walrus, harp seals, ringed seals, and bearded seals are found around the North Belcher Islands. In addition, the larger adjacent islands are used by Polar Bears for winter denning and summer refuge.

Key biodiversity
A significant population of Hudson Bay Common Eiders nest on the North Belcher Islands. In 1985, a total of 2,870 pairs of eiders was recorded here, primarily around Laddie Island (1,650 pairs) and Split Island (1,215 pairs). However, a survey in 1997 documented major declines with only 243 nests being recorded (133 nests on Laddie Island) an 84% decline, and 110 nests on Split Islands) an 81.7% decline). These population declines (estimated to be about 75% on average) occurred throughout this subspecies stronghold in eastern Hudson Bay. As such, the 243 nests on the North Belchers still represent over 2.5% of the estimated population for ssp. sedentaria.

Other species of colonial birds nesting on the North Belcher Islands include Arctic Terns, Glaucous Gulls, and Herring Gulls. The 1997 study recorded declines in these populations as well.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: North Belcher Islands. Downloaded from on 28/01/2023.