Seal River Estuary

Country/territory: Canada

IBA Criteria met: A4i (2001)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 36,000 ha

Birds Canada / Nature Canada

Site description
The Seal River Estuary site is located at the mouth of the Seal River, where it empties into the west coast of Hudson Bay. To the southeast is the town of Churchill while the Manitoba-Nunavut border is just to the north. This estuary is mostly rocky with some coniferous forest, willows, tundra and, due to the 4-metre tides, mud and sand flats. The Seal River Estuary is along the migration route of Caribou, and Timber Wolves use the area for breeding. On peak days, the estuary can contain a few thousand Beluga Whales and many of them are present in summer for breeding, calving and staging for migration.

Key biodiversity
The Seal River Estuary is globally significant for migrating Black Scoters, with 2,000 or more (just over 1% of the North American population) being seen regularly in spring on peak days. White-winged and Surf Scoters are also seen in good numbers, with 1,000 and 250 or more on peaks days in spring, respectively.

Tundra Swans peak at over 250 per day in spring while two species of loons migrate past the site in spring: Pacific Loon (200 or more on peak days) and Red-throated Loon (80 or more on peak days).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Seal River Estuary. Downloaded from on 28/06/2022.