Cap-Saint-Ignace Migratory Bird Sanctuary

The Cap-Saint-Ignace Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) is located on the southern shore of the St. Lawrence River at 10 km from Montmagny, in the province of Québec. It is an important area for many migratory birds, such as many waterfowl.

Importance of the sanctuary: migratory birds and other wildlife

The Cap-Saint-Ignace Migratory Bird Sanctuary, located near the town of Cap-Saint-Ignace, was established in 1986 to protect waterfowl as this sanctuary covers a portion of coastline that is known to be a popular waterfowl gathering area.

During the fall migration, over 2000 greater snow geese and 300 dabbling ducks (ducks that feed near the surface of the water), including numerous green-winged teals, blue-winged teals and several American black ducks, can be observed in this protected area.

Greater Snow Geese
Greater snow geese. Photo: Matthieu Allard

The American black duck, northern pintail and mallard, nest in this site. This sanctuary also supports migrating shorebirds, such as dunlin, and several semipalmated sandpipers.

Did you know?

Semipalmated sandpiper parents do not feed their young chicks once they hatch. Instead, when these baby birds hatch with open eyes and nearly adult-sized legs they begin almost immediately to walk around pecking for insects.

Some species of songbirds, also known as passerines, have been recorded in this area during the nesting season, including the horned lark and the savannah sparrow. Species at risk, including the peregrine falcon, have also been sighted during migration.


The boundaries of this 131-hectare sanctuary, situated in the middle estuary of the St. Lawrence, are defined by the high and low water lines, between the wharf and the east side of Cap Saint-Ignace. The tide in this area has a major impact on both shoreline movement and the vegetation found within the sanctuary. As such, the sanctuary as a whole is characterized by wetlands and brackish water, while the main habitat type within this protected area is herbaceous meadow, rich in American Bulrush.

Marsh habitat in the Cap-Saint-Ignace Migratory Bird Sanctuary. Photo: Matthieu Allard

Other plants do grow within the sanctuary’s marsh, though in smaller numbers, including:

  • wild rice
  • grass-like arrowleaf
  • erect arrowleaf
  • northern arrowhead
  • water-parsnip
  • common boneset
  • rice cutgrass
  • tufted hairgrass

The layer of shrubs that grow in the area are periodically covered in water and are predominantly composed of speckled alder. Other features of the site include muddy sediments and rocky outcrops.

Map of the area

Map of Cap-Saint-Ignace
  • Long description

    Map showing the location of the Cap-Saint-Ignace Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) in relation to Québec, Cap-Saint-Ignace and the Saint-Lawrence River. The MBS is location west of Highway 132 and Highway 20. The map shows the boundaries of the refuge, which cover part of the waters offshore of the Saint-Lawrence shore at Cap-Saint-Ignace. The scale of the map is in kilometers. An inset shows the location of the MBS in Canada.

Access to the sanctuary

Migratory Bird Sanctuaries, such as Cap-Saint-Ignace, are established across the country to protect migratory birds during critical periods of their migration. Whether these areas are used for feeding, resting or nesting, they play an important role in the survival of many species. Please ensure that you are aware of how, as a visitor, you can help protect this sanctuary and, before accessing the site, please read the restrictions, including those on firearms and hunting, that are in place to conserve the wildlife that call it home. It’s also important to remember that pets are not welcome 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 Cap-Saint-Ignace Migratory Bird Sanctuary in particular, please contact our regional office.

Key facts about Cap-Saint-Ignace Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Protected Area designation Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Province or territory Québec
Latitude/longitude 47° 02' 30" N 70° 28' 30" W
Size 131 hectares
Date created (Gazetted) 1986
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) management category Strict Nature Reserve (Ia)
Additional designations Cap-Saint-Ignace Important Bird Area
Main habitat type American Bulrush dominated herbaceous meadow
Key bird species Greater snow goose and semipalmated sandpiper
Other species Birds: American black duck, green-winged teal, blue-winged teal, northern pintail and mallard
Plants: American bulrush, wild rice, grass-like arrowleaf, erect arrowleaf, northern arrowhead, water-parsnip, common boneset, rice cutgrass, tufted hairgrass, spike rush sp. and speckled alder.
Listed species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) None
Management agency Canadian Wildlife Service, Québec Region

Related links

Cap-Saint-Ignace Migratory Bird Sanctuary on Google Maps (Please note that the Google map is a complementary source of information 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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