CA169
The Wolves Archipelago


Year of compilation: 2001

Site description
The Wolves are a group of small rocky islands located in the Bay of Fundy, approximately 12 km south of Blacks Harbour, New Brunswick. Eastern Wolf Island is the largest (about 240 ha), with Green Rock, Spruce Island, Flat Wolf Island and Southern Wolf Island all being less than 75 ha in area. The shorelines are mostly rocky with a large intertidal zone. A few small coves are also present. The vegetation is mostly characterized by boreal species such as spruce, balsam fir, and poplars. In more exposed areas, raspberry bushes prevail, with grass, and stunted shrubs/trees also being present.

Key biodiversity
The Wolves Archipelago is a regular wintering and staging area for the nationally endangered eastern Harlequin Duck population. Approximately 35 to 50 Harlequin Ducks winter here (3 to 5% of the estimated Atlantic coast wintering population) with larger numbers occurring during migration. In the past, much larger numbers were reported (e.g., 200 - 300 individuals). Large numbers of wintering Purple Sandpipers have also been recorded.

In addition to wintering and migrating Harlequin Ducks, The Wolves Archipelago supports significant numbers of nesting Common Eiders (i.e., about 1% of the Atlantic coast ssp. dresseri population). There are references to 1,350 pairs being recorded in the late 1980s, but this may include additional nearby islands. During a four-year study in the mid-1990s, the number of nesting eiders ranged from 700 850 pairs.

Large numbers of Herring Gulls (792 pairs in 1998) also nest on the archipelago, and prior to gull control, 430 pairs of nesting Great Black-backed Gulls were present in 1995 and 1996. Nesting Black Guillemots are also numerous. Recently, Black-legged Kittiwakes have become established with a nesting colony of 138 pairs occurring on South Wolf Island in 1996. This colony is the southernmost breeding location for Black-legged Kittiwake in the western Atlantic. Razorbills have also recently become established on the archipelago, with five pairs being present in 1997.

Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
The large regional gull population causes serious levels of predation on newly hatched eider ducklings in some years. In 1996, for example, only 8 of 3,000 ducklings survived, suggesting that the Archipelago may function as a "sink" for eider populations in this region. Historically, disturbance and exploitation of the nesting eiders also occurred, but these practices have largely ceased. The islands are currently uninhabited, with some wildlife research activities being undertaken. As with all marine sites, oil pollution is a concern.


Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: The Wolves Archipelago. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 18/08/2022.