Fauna & Flora

Red Trillium

Description of the woods Aside from providing crucial habitat for birds and serving as a stopover during the colourful spectacle of migration, the Nuns' Island woods are also exceptionally rich in plant species. These woods are the last remaining wet woodlands of any size left in the La Prairie Basin, containing many understorey species typical of maple-butternut hickory forest such as Symplocarpus foetidus (Skunk Cabbage), Polygonum virginianum (Jumpseed) and Lilium canadense (Wild Yellow Lily). In addition, the woods harbour eight plant species rare in Quebec: Celtis occidentalis (Northern Hackberry),Claytonia virginica (Spring Beauty), Carex hirtifolia (a species of sedge), Cinna arundinacea(Common Woodreed), Elymus villosus (Downy Wild Rye), Floerkea proserpinacoides (False Mermaid), Allium trioccum (Wild Leek) and Dentaria laciniata (Five-parted Toothwort).

Black-and-white Warbler Northern Saw-whet Owl


Birds are the main attraction on the southwestern tip of the island, however. With 284 species of birds observed over the years, Nuns' Island has the greatest avian diversity of any area of comparable size in Quebec. Each year, rarities such as the Red-bellied Woodpecker and Tufted Titmouse (1999), Prairie Warbler and Lawrence's Warbler (1998), Worm-eating Warbler (1997), Yellow-throated Warbler and Louisiana Waterthrush (1996), and Great Gray Owl (1995) make an appearance.

Yellow Warbler

The pond, marsh and wet woodlands also support a rich diversity of amphibians and reptiles, including the Blue-spotted Salamander, Eastern Newt, Bullfrog, Green Frog, Northern Leopard Frog, American Toad, Painted Turtle and Common Garter Snake. At least six species of mammals occur on Nuns' Island, including the Gray Squirrel, Meadow Vole, Raccoon, Eastern Cottontail, Striped Skunk and Red Fox.


Gray Squirrel albinos at NI
References: Marquis, Y. and C. Thiffault, Valeur écologique de la partie sud du boisé St-Paul. Bio-nouvelles, May-June 1999.