Chantry Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Chantry Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary: landscape
Photo: Doug Sweiger © Environment and Climate Change Canada. Chantry Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary: landscape.

Chantry Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) is located in Lake Huron, about 1 km offshore from the town of Southampton. The island is owned by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and has been leased to the Municipality of Saugeen Shores. The island itself is approximately 18 ha in size, but the MBS boundary extends 183 m offshore from the normal high-water mark. At that offshore boundary, the water depth is about 20 m.

The east side of Chantry Island consists of a beach ridge fronted by a cobblestone beach 7 m in width. The ridge is approximately 3 m high and extends the full north-south length of the island. Smaller ridges are oriented perpendicular to this main ridge and run toward the west side of the island.

The main beach ridge is densely vegetated with black willow, poplar, basswood, some maple, choke cherry, red elderberry and red-osier dogwood. To the west of the lighthouse, and on ground slightly lower than the beach ridge, a dense growth of white ash projects to the west, while some red oaks are also present here. An eastern white cedar/tamarack complex is located on the north side of this predominantly ash bush. The low ridges that run east-west are sparsely treed.

The west side of the island is flat and consists of several rocky bays and ponds. These open areas grade into a wet meadow zone that appears to be flooded regularly by wind tides. The wet meadow, composed of sedges and grasses, slopes gently to the east where it merges with the treed zone. Dense growths of lilacs are found around the lighthouse and the two old stone buildings. Herbaceous cover on the beach ridge includes clintonia, wild cucumber, herb Robert and grasses.

Importance of the Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Chantry Island was originally proposed as an MBS because of its gull and heron colonies. At that time, Herring Gulls were likely the most common nesting bird; however, as is the case in most of the Great Lakes, the Ring-billed Gull population has increased substantially, and the population size has surpassed that of the Herring Gulls. The most recent surveys of nesting birds found nests of 201 Herring Gulls, 40 Great Egrets, 6 Great Blue Herons and 1000 Double-crested Cormorants; Ring-billed Gull nests were not counted but were numerous.

The wet meadow zone and the shallow ponds and bays on the west side of Chantry Island are utilized by nesting waterfowl and migrating shorebirds.

Access and Activities

MBSs are established for the protection and conservation of migratory birds. Activities that could harm migratory birds, their nests or their eggs are prohibited.

MBSs can be and have been established on private, provincial, territorial and federally owned lands. Access to each MBS varies by site and is at the discretion of the landowner and land manager.

Where MBSs are located on federal land, Environment and Climate Change Canada is responsible for the management and protection of migratory birds, nests, eggs and habitat. Where MBSs are located on provincial land, Environment and Climate Change Canada is responsible for the protection of migratory birds and their nests, while the chief game officer of the province is responsible for the management of habitat. Where MBSs are located on private or municipal land, Environment and Climate Change Canada is responsible for the protection of migratory birds and their nests. Habitat management is the responsibility of the landowner.

The standard prohibitions under the Migratory Bird Sanctuary Regulations apply to Chantry Island MBS: hunting migratory birds is prohibited, and no person shall disturb, destroy or take the nest of a migratory bird or have in his or her possession a live migratory bird, or a carcass, skin, nest or egg of a migratory bird, except under the authority of a permit issued by Environment and Climate Change Canada or unless authorized by the Regulations. Possession of firearms or other hunting appliances is prohibited. Dogs and cats must not be allowed to run at large.

Access to the island during the bird breeding season is limited through an agreement between Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Marine Heritage Society, which provides guided tours of the restored lighthouse structures.

Other access prohibitions or restrictions by the MBS landowner (Municipality of Saugeen Shores) may also apply.

For more information on entry, activities and permits in MBSs, please visit the Management and Activities section of the Migratory Bird Sanctuaries website. For more information on Environment and Climate Change Canada's protected areas, please contact the regional office.

For greater certainty, nothing in this document shall be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from the protection provided for existing Aboriginal or treaty rights of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada by the recognition and affirmation of those rights in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

Map of the Area

  • Map of Eleanor Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Long description for the Map

Map showing the location of Chantry Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary relative to Ontario, Southhampton, McNab Point, Chantry Island, Saugeen River and Lake Huron. The map shows the boundaries of the sanctuary, which covers Chantry Island as well as a small amount of surrounding water. The scale of the map is in hundreds of meters.

This map is for illustrative purposes only and should not be used to define legal boundaries. Chantry Island MBS can also be viewed using Google Maps. Please note that the Google map is a complementary source of information and does not represent the official map or site name.

Summary Table

Summary Table for Chantry Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Category Information
Protected Area designation Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Province or territory Ontario
Latitude/longitude 44°29' N, 81°24' W
Size in hectares (ha) 18 ha
Date created (Gazetted) 1957
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)management category Ia - Strict Nature Reserve
Additional designations Chantry Island Important Bird Area
Main habitat type Beach (3%), woodland (hardwood, some cedar) (10%), open ponds and bays (3%), wet meadow (17%), open lake (67%)
Key bird species Herring Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Great Blue Heron, Double-crested Cormorant and Great Egret
Listed species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) None
Management agency Canadian Wildlife Service, Ontario Region
Landowners Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Province of Ontario, and Municipality of Saugeen Shores

Contact Information

Environment and Climate Change Canada - Ontario Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Ecosystem Conservation
4905 Dufferin Street
Toronto ON M3H 5T4
Toll Free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
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