Plover and Payne Islands

Site description (2001 baseline):

Site location and context
The Plover and Payne Islands are two archipelagos of about a hundred islands lying along the western shoreline of Ungava Bay. The Payne Islands are clustered around the mouth of the Riviére Arnaud, while the Plover Islands lie along the coast just to the north of the river. The community of Kangiqsuk is close-by, just up the river to the west. The islands are underlain by the hard granitic-gneiss of the Canadian Shield and are covered by a thin layer of soil. Typical tundra vegetation is present, which in this region are low woody shrubs, sedges, moss and lichen. The broad bare-rock margins of these islands are extensive because the strong and high tides scour the shorelines with ice.

Key biodiversity
Common Eiders breed on the Payne and Plover Islands in high densities (an average of 32 nests per island). In total, 3,500 Common Eider pairs of the subspecies borealis nested here in 1980. This is a significant proportion (about 4%) of the borealis subspecies' population, a population that occurs throughout the northeastern Canadian arctic. More recent surveys are not available for these islands.

Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
There are few concerns about the Common Eider population of the Payne and Plover Islands. The numbers are believed to be stable despite the small amount of egg gathering, and hunting of adults that occurs. Eiders are sensitive to repeated disturbances, but this seems unlikely to be a problem in the foreseeable future. Not enough is known about the concentrations and effects of hydrocarbons in arctic waters to know if this is a concern for eiders.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Plover and Payne Islands. Downloaded from on 23/09/2023.