Petit Canouan

Country/territory: St Vincent and the Grenadines

IBA Criteria met: A4i, A4iii, B4i, B4ii (2008)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 418 ha

Protection status:

Site description
This small, uninhabited island is located approximately 5 miles (8 km) north-north-east of Canouan. Much of the island’s vegetation, which years ago comprised of Dry Scrub Woodland, has in recent times been converted to coastal grassland, with few shrubs intermixed. Portions of the island have been left bare and eroded. This phenomenon has been caused primarily by the annual burning of the vegetation to facilitate poaching of eggs by fishermen. This burning is normally conducted just prior to laying of the first eggs, at the beginning of the migratory season (March/April) (E. Bess and D. Hazell, pers. comm.). Annually, Petit Canouan supports the largest numbers of nesting seabirds, numbering several tens of thousand individuals. It is known among the poachers as the island for the “egg birds”. Law enforcement is limited on the island due to a lack of presence by enforcement agencies. The island is identified as a scuba diving site under the SPAHS.

Key biodiversity
Though data does not exist for species abundance, combined nesting populations may number several tens of thousands (D. Hazell, O. King and E. Bess, pers. comm.). The most populous of birds must be the Sooty Tern whose numbers are said to darken the skies as they migrate at the end of nesting season (D. Hazell, pers. comm.). They can also be seen in their thousands early in the mornings and late at evenings prior to and after foraging at sea. Thus, although access of the island can be dangerous, these large numbers are a feature that makes poaching attractive, because the returns for effort can be quite rewarding. Based on reports obtained on the size of the breeding population of seabirds on Petit Canouan, particularly that of the Sooty Tern (Plates 24 & 25) and Magnificant Frigatebird, this island is considered critical to the survival of seabirds on St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and by extension, the rest of the Americas. Accordingly, Petit Canouan easily qualifies as a category A4i IBA. The Brown Noddy is also a regular on this island.

Non-bird biodiversity: Data on the island's wildlife are unavailable.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Petit Canouan. Downloaded from on 19/01/2021.