Amherst Point Migratory Bird Sanctuary


Welcome to Amherst Point Migratory Bird Sanctuary.

Trails and the parking lot at the Amherst Point Migratory Bird Sanctuary are open to the public. Please note that while Environment and Climate Change Canada establishes trails and infrastructure to support visitor access and use of selected Migratory Bird Sanctuaries, staff are not always on-site for management of public safety.

Please respect the environment and leave no trace.

The Amherst Point Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) is located southwest of Amherst, Nova Scotia. It provides habitat for rare birds in the region, such as gadwall and wood duck.

Importance of the sanctuary: migratory birds and other wildlife

Amherst Point Migratory Bird Sanctuary is situated five kilometres southwest of Amherst at the head of the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia. The wetlands in this sanctuary are some of the most productive in the province and a very wide variety of birds use this site throughout the spring, summer and fall. In fact, out of all of the species that have been spotted in the sanctuary, over 200 of them are regulars at this site.

This sanctuary is particularly attractive and important for birds due to the diversity and richness of the habitats found within it. Its location, along a highly used migration route, is also a key to its popularity and large numbers of migratory birds are spotted at Amherst Point. The diversity of the landscape provides nesting habitat for many of the migratory species that pass through the sanctuary as well as those that remain there year-round.

Waterfowl, along with many other marshbirds, are very abundant within the sanctuary and the majority of waterfowl species found in the Atlantic Provinces can be found within this site. The species that nest within the Amherst Point Migratory Bird Sanctuary include:

  • American black duck
  • northern pintail
  • green-winged teal
  • blue-winged teal
  • American wigeon
  • northern shoveler
  • ring-necked duck
  • pied-billed grebe
  • American bittern
  • sora
Sora. Photo: © Scott Leslie

If there was ever any doubt as to the importance of this sanctuary, the regular visits of various unusual waterfowl and marshbirds would erase it. Species such as gadwall, Virginia rail, common gallinule, American coot and black tern have all regularly nested within the sanctuary in the past few years.

Did you know?

During the mating display, the male Virginia rail raises its wings, twitches its tail and runs back and forth in front of the female. When it passes near the female, the male will stand tall and bow. If the female accepts the courtship, she will bow back.

Stray European waterfowl and several southern waders have also put in appearances in the sanctuary. While many of these species have also been reported in other locations in the Atlantic Provinces, this site in particular hosts an unusually elevated number of species of limited occurrence and distribution in the region. The sanctuary also provides habitat for an impressive variety of hawks, owls and songbirds.


This sanctuary was established in 1947 in cooperation with the landowners at that time. In 1973-1974, the lands of the sanctuary were officially acquired by the Canadian Wildlife Service and designated as a component of the Chignecto National Wildlife Area in order to ensure that they would remain protected permanently.


The landscape within the sanctuary is a tapestry of ponds, marshes, forests and old farm fields. Sinkholes, cone-shaped depressions created during past geological events, occur in the gypsum deposits underlying the area and mineral rich ponds have established within them.

Amherst Point Migratory Bird Sanctuary: landscape

Map of the area

Map of Amherst Point Migratory Birds Sanctuary
  • Long description

    Map showing the location of the Amherst Point Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS), directly southwest of the town of Amherst, Nova Scotia. The boundaries of the Chignecto and John Lusby Marsh National Wildlife Areas (NWA) and the Amherst Point MBS are indicated. The John Lusby Marsh NWA is primarily located in tidal and permanent waters with a few small portions of land on the west shore of the Cumberland Basin. The Chignecto NWA and the Amherst Point MBS overlap completely. This protected area is located between Amherst Point, Amherst and Nappan and contains several bodies of water. The scale of the map is in kilometers. Permanent waters, intertidal areas, roads and highways are shown on the map. An insert on the map shows the location of the shelter in Canada.

Planning your visit

Amherst Point Migratory Bird Sanctuary is a wonderful place for a nature walk and a picnic. A 2.5-kilometre interpretive hike circles Laytons Lake, meandering through forests, fields and along gently sloping hills. The hillside view overlooking the lake is an enticing spot for a picnic and is a popular bird watching area. This same trail can be explored on cross-country skis during the snowy winter months.

Migratory Bird Sanctuaries, such as Amherst Point, are established across the country to protect migratory birds during critical periods of their life cycle. Whether these areas are used for feeding, resting or nesting, they play an important role in the survival of many species. Access to each migratory bird sanctuary varies by site and is at the discretion of the landowner and land manager. Please ensure that you are aware of how you can help protect this sanctuary and please read the restrictions, including those on firearms and hunting, which are in place to conserve the wildlife that call it home. It is also important to remember that dogs and cats must not be allowed to run at large inside Migratory Bird Sanctuaries.

If you would like further information on what is permitted in Migratory Bird Sanctuaries, please visit the Management and Activities section of the website. For more information on Amherst Point Migratory Bird Sanctuary in particular, please contact our regional office.

Key facts about Amherst Point Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Protected Area designation Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Province or territory Nova Scotia
Latitude/longitude 45°48' N, 64°16' W
Size 433 hectares
Date created (Gazetted) 1947
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Management Category IV – Habitat/Species Management Area
Additional designations
Main habitat type Cattail marsh and bog (27%), controlled water-level impoundments (33%), open water (6%), mixed forest (24%), open upland fields (10%)
Key bird species American black duck, northern pintail, green-winged teal, blue‑winged teal, American wigeon, northern shoveler, ring-necked duck, pied-billed grebe, American bittern, sora, gadwall, Virginia rail, common gallinule, American coot and black tern
Other species Plants: Rich plant diversity associated with the underlying gypsum deposits
Listed species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) None
Management agency Canadian Wildlife Service, Atlantic Region
Landowners Canadian Wildlife Service and private

Related links

Contact information

Environment and Climate Change Canada - Atlantic Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas Program
17 Waterfowl Lane
Sackville NB  E4L 1G6

Toll Free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)

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