The Atlantic Bird Observatory has been studying migrating birds since 1995. Affiliated with Acadia University and a member of the Canadian Migration Monitoring network, it is located on Bon Portage Island, NS, Canada. Bon Portage Island is located off the southwest coast – just 3 km off the southwest tip, near Cape Sable Island. Island access is via a small outboard and a fishing boat.
The island has locally and nationally significant habitat for birds, with the number of species recorded being roughly equal to all the rest of Atlantic Canada. In 1999. Bon Portage Island was designated as a globally Important Bird Area. Advantageously situated along the Atlantic Flyway, the island offers migratory birds a last chance to “fuel-up” prior to continuing south. Bon Portage is well known for the unique number of vagrants that occur during the migratory seasons.
Southern Nova Scotia is characterized by a maritime climate. Bon Portage is under the influence of the Bay of Fundy tides. the tides moderate temperatures on the islands, creating temperatures warmer than open sea in summer, and colder in winter. This results in heavy fog and high humidity. At times, the effects of major tropical depressions hit the region with strong winds and heavy rains.
Bon Portage is a low lying island, with two drumlins that are connected by a gravel and marsh isthmus. The vegetation on the island is characterized by open coastal areas with inland areas of coniferous forest (mainly spruce), and small areas of saline marsh and ponds. Bon Portage Island supports the largest known Leach’s Storm Petrel colony in the Maritimes. During the late 1990’s a breeding population of over 50,000 pairs were estimated. Of other ornithological interest, is the presence of a mixed-species heronry. Great Blue Herons are most common, but a maximum of 10 pairs of nesting Black-crowned Night Herons have also been recorded.
For more information about the Observatory, our affiliates and volunteer opportunities, please visit our other pages or contact us at: atlanticbirdobservatory (at) gmail.com.