Betchouane Migratory Bird Sanctuary

The Betchouane Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) is located east of Havre-Saint-Pierre, in Québec. Many seabirds use it to nest.

Importance of the sanctuary: migratory birds and other wildlife

The Betchouane Migratory Bird Sanctuary lies on the northern coast of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, approximately 25 kilometres east of Havre-Saint-Pierre. Established in 1925 to protect an essential nesting site of common eiders and other seabirds, this protected area is part of the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve of Canada. In fact, eight of the eleven species of birds found in the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve nest within the Betchouane Migratory Bird Sanctuary.

In 2010, 3000 pairs of common eider were recorded within this migratory bird sanctuary; a number that represents approximately 7.5% of the population of this species nesting in the Estuary and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. That such a significant number of common eider can be found at this site corroborates its importance as a protected area.

Common eider
Common eider. Photo: Jean-François Rail

Did you know?

Male common eiders do not develop their elegant black and white breeding plumage until they reach 3 years of age.

While the common eider is the most abundant bird in the area, other species also rely on this sanctuary including large numbers of razorbill, Atlantic puffin, herring gull and great black-backed gull. Black-legged kittiwake and black guillemot are also known to call this area home and bird surveys have confirmed that shorebirds, such as the semipalmated sandpiper, can also be spotted locally.


The Betchouane Migratory Bird Sanctuary encompasses a 492-hectare area, covering islands, islets and rocks as well as 500 metres of surrounding marine waters, except where mainland is at a fewer distance than this. L’Île à la Chasse is considered as mainland and therefore is not included in this sanctuary. Overall, the landscape within the sanctuary is composed of rocky outcrops, woodlands, shrubs and grasses.

Îles Innu within Betchouane Migratory Bird Sanctuary. Photo: Jean-François Rail

Île Innu, formerly known as Île au Bois, supports forests of spruce and balsam fir trees, which reach a maximum height of approximately ten metres, and a fen in which shallow puddles are regularly formed.

Île à Calculot des Betchouanes, previously called Île aux Perroquets is treeless, however it is covered by grasses that can grow up to two metres high including species such as purplestem angelica, cow-parsnip, Canadian burnet, bog aster and a variety of bramble and goldenrod. The northern character of this sanctuary is further enhanced by the abundance of lichens and shrubs found in its moors.

Did you know?

The name Calculot originates from a nickname given to Atlantic puffin due to the frequent head nodding movement suggesting that he is trying to calculate.

Map if the area

Map of Betchouane MBS
  • Long description

    Map showing the location of the Betchouane Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) in relation to Québec, Ile à la Chasse, Ile Innu, Ile Calculot des Betchouanes, Le Petit Passage, Baie des Grès, Baie de Puffin and to the Saint-Lawrence Golfe. The map shows the boundaries of the refuge, which enclose Ile Innu, Ile à Calculot des Betchouanes and part of the nearby waters. The scale of the map is in kilometers. Permanent waters and intertidal zone are shown on the map. An inset shows the location of the shelter in Canada.

Access to the sanctuary

Migratory Bird Sanctuaries, such as Betchouane, 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 Betchouane Migratory Bird Sanctuary in particular, please contact our regional office.

Key facts about Betchouane Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Protected Area designation Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Province or territory Quebec
Latitude/longitude 50° 11' 51 " N 63° 12' 27 " W
Size 492 hectares
Date created (Gazetted) 1925
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) management category Strict Nature Reserve (Ia)
Additional designations Betchouane Important Bird Area
Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve
Main habitat type Rocky outcrops, woodland, herbaceous meadows
Key bird species Common eider, atlantic puffin and herring gull
Other species Birds: Razorbill, black-legged kittiwake, great black-backed gull, ring-billed gull, semipalmated sandpiper, black guillemot and common murre
Plants: Balsam fir, purplestem angelica, cow-parsnip, Canadian burnet and bog aster
Listed species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) None
Management agency Canadian Wildlife Service, Quebec Region

Related link

Betchouane Migratory Bird Sanctuary on Google Maps (Please note that the Google map is a complementary source of information that can help locate the migratory bird sanctuary and does not represent the official map or site name)

Contact information

Environment and Climate Change Canada – Quebec Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas Unit
801-1550, avenue d'Estimauville
Québec, Quebec G1J 0C3

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

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