Site description (2001 baseline):
Sable Island also supports large numbers of nesting colonial waterbirds, some in globally significant numbers, such as Herring Gulls (2,000 pairs in 1970, representing over 1% of the North American population), Great Black-backed Gulls (600 pairs in 1998, representing over 1% of the North American population), and Common Terns (2,570 pairs in 1995, representing about 5% of the North American population). The nationally threatened Roseate Tern also nests here, with 10 pairs of them estimated among the larger colonies of Common and Arctic Terns in 1985. In August of that year, a rocket net sample of a flock of about 1,000 terns yielded four Roseate Terns out of the 70 that were caught. If this was a representative sample, as many as 60 adult Roseate Terns may have been present. During the mid 1990s, estimated numbers of nesting Roseates have ranged from a low of one pair in 1997 and 1998, to a high of four pairs in 1993.
The numbers of terns nesting on the island was formerly much larger, being estimated at close to a million birds at the turn of the century. Tern numbers have declined on the island, likely as a result of the increasing numbers of nesting Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls.
Sable Island has been identified as a core site in the Canadian Roseate Tern Recovery Plan (1993). The goal of this plan is to increase the Canadian population to 200 breeding pairs by the end of the first decade of the next century, 125 of them breeding on Sable Island and the remainder on productive colonies on coastal islands. Gull management on Sable Island was to be initiated in 1993, but it was blocked by the public response. No further plans for management at this colony have been made.
Initiatives are underway to develop a Sable Island Nature Society. It would be a non-profit partnership formed between private industries, government, and local nature groups to preserve the integrity of Sable Islands flora and fauna.
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Sable Island, Nova Scotia. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org/site/factsheet/sable-island-nova-scotia-iba-canada on 05/10/2023.