Sand Reef Islands

Country/territory: Canada

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

Area: 50 ha

Birds Canada / Nature Canada

Site description
The Sand Reef Islands of Lake Manitoba are located to the east of Ducharme Island, and to the west of Duck Island (also known as Big Birch Island). The IBA additionally includes those islands that are roughly midway between the Sand Reef Islands and Mathews Point. Alonsa is the closest major town, located to the southwest, but the hamlet of Vogar, to the northeast, is nearer to this site. The islands are extremely low-lying with a limited amount of relief and consequently they are subjected to flooding during periods of high water and heavy winds.

Key biodiversity
Based on a Northern American estimated total of only about 34,000 pairs of Caspian Terns, the low-lying islands of this site are home to minimally 3% (1,000 nests recorded) of this population. An unsubstantiated (and possibly erroneous) report records an impressive 3,400 pairs occurring here. Caspian Terns, formerly designated as rare in Canada, have recently been de-listed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

An extensive waterbird breeding survey was completed at this site in 1986. In addition to the Caspian Terns, a total of 300 Common Tern nests, 750 Ring-billed Gull nests, 250 Double-crested Cormorant nests, and 220 American White Pelican nests were recorded on the islands.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Sand Reef Islands. Downloaded from on 07/12/2021.