Beckett Creek Migratory Bird Sanctuary

The Beckett Creek Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) is located northeast of Ottawa, Ontario. It hosts many ducks and valley-birds.

Importance of the sanctuary: migratory birds and other wildlife

Beckett Creek Migratory Bird Sanctuary is located on the south bank of the Ottawa River, Ontario. It was established not only to aid in the protection of migratory birds, but also to protect a hotspot for migratory bird research and education. In this capacity, the sanctuary is currently operated by the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board as the MacSkimming Outdoor Education Centre for elementary and secondary school students.

The sanctuary is home to bird populations representative of the Ottawa Valley including dabbling ducks (ducks that feed near the water’s surface) such as the blue-winged teal that nests in the wetlands near the river, as well as other birds like great blue heron, belted kingfisher and northern harrier are common visitors to this area. The artificial pond is particularly popular in the fall and waterfowl tend to gather at dusk. The Beckett Creek Migratory Bird Sanctuary lands are home to a community of songbirds (passerines) typical of the area, which nest in both a sugar maple grove and in the white pines within the sanctuary.

Photo of Lady Slippers
Lady Slippers. Photo: Bill McMullen 

Did you know?

The MacSkimming Outdoor Education Centre hosts, on average, 19 000 students each year. This outdoor education program focuses on helping its students explore, experience, appreciate and learn about natural science and outdoor activities in an outdoor setting.


Approximately 16 hectares of the sanctuary includes the Ottawa River and its adjoining wetland. Beckett Creek itself runs into the Ottawa River at the western waterfront boundary of the sanctuary. The creek carries a high sediment load and this suspended material is deposited at both the mouth of the creek and along the low offshore islands to the east.

The predominant soil type of the wetland part is heavy marine clay which has limitations for agricultural use due to poor drainage. A variety of emergent, submergent and floating plants form the aquatic vegetation component. To the south, along Beckett Creek, a river terrace supports a grove of mixed deciduous trees, including silver maple, American elm, basswood, red ash and white pine. Beyond the grove, farm buildings are surrounded by fields and meadows used for grazing.

Landscape of Beckett Creek MBS
Beckett Creek Migratory Bird Sanctuary. Photo: James McDonald

Between the farmland and a busy road (major highway) that forms the southern barrier of the sanctuary, is a forest that is mainly composed of sugar maple but also contains striped maple, yellow birch and white pine.

Map of the area

Map of Becketts Creek Migratory Bird Sanctuary
  • Long description

    Map showing the location of the Beckett Creek Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) in relation to Ontario, Quebec, Beckett Creek and the Ottawa River. The map shows the boundaries of the sanctuary, which covers a small portion of the Ottawa River and extends into the interior of Ontario's coastline, on both sides of Highway 174 that changes to Highway 17. Map scale is in kilometers. Permanent waters, roads and highways are shown on the map. An inset on the map shows the location of the shelter in Canada.

Access to the sanctuary

Migratory Bird Sanctuaries, such as Beckett Creek, 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 free inside Migratory Bird Sanctuaries. School classes, overnight and weekend groups heavily use MacSkimming Centre. Therefore, both centres are not open to the public to access and hike. Please call (613) 833-2080 for information on the Centre

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 the Beckett Creek Migratory Bird Sanctuary in particular, please contact our regional office.

Key facts about the Beckett Creek Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Beckett Creek Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Protected Area designation Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Province or territory Ontario
Latitude/longitude 45°31' N, 75°21' W
Size 171 hectares
Date created (Gazetted) 1969
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) management category National Park
Additional designations None
Main habitat type Mature forests (eastern white pine, American beech, eastern hemlock and sugar maple), wetlands and fields in a variety of succession.
Key bird species American bittern, eastern bluebird, wild turkey, barred owl and hermit thrush
Listed species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) Bobolink, barn swallow, wood thrush and eastern meadowlark
Management agency Canadian Wildlife Service, Ontario Region
Landowners Ottawa-Carleton District School Board and Hydro One

Related links

Contact information

Environment and Climate Change Canada – Ontario Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected areas
4905 Dufferin Street
Toronto ON M3H 5T4

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

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