Duncairn Reservoir Migratory Bird Sanctuary

The Duncairn Reservoir Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) is located in south-west Saskatchewan. It offers a quality habitat for ducks and swans to rest and feed.

Importance of the sanctuary: migratory birds and other wildlife

The Duncairn Reservoir Migratory Bird Sanctuary, located 32 kilometers southwest of Swift Current, Saskatchewan, is one of five sanctuaries that were established in 1948 to replace five older sanctuaries that were deemed to no longer be suitable due to drought conditions.

This protected area is in a semi-arid region that is very drought-prone, which makes it an extremely important fall resting and feeding area for ducks (mainly mallards), geese and tundra swans.

Mallard female
Mallard female

The value of this site is constrained by the limited amount of riparian habitat, which is essential for waterfowl breeding and moulting. The lack of islands means that colonial-nesting waterbirds cannot use the sanctuary for breeding.

Did you know?

In a body of water, the transitional area between land and water is called the riparian zone. Water loving plants, like cattails, usually grow happily in this area and many species of birds rely on riparian habitat for foraging, nesting and shelter.


Duncairn Reservoir, also known as Reid Lake, was formed due to the creation of a Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration dam on Swift Current Creek. Located in Saskatchewan’s Mixed Grassland ecoregion, this Y-shaped reservoir is deep and thus able to maintain favourably high water levels, except during periods of extreme drought. The banks of the reservoir are mostly high, steep and vegetated with native grasses and shrubs. The area between the banks and the water is composed of mud flats of varying width and it supports scattered clumps of willows, sedges and a variety of other wet meadow species. While the reservoir contains isolated beds of pondweeds, there is no emergent vegetation present around the edges of the water due to the steep shorelines and extensive waves. The lands surrounding the migratory bird sanctuary are a mix of native grasslands grazed by livestock and both irrigated and dryland crop production. Two resort communities have also been developed along the shorelines.

Map of the area

Map of Duncairn Reservoir Migratory Bird Sanctuary
  • Long description
    Map showing the location of the Duncairn Reservoir Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) in relation to Saskatchewan, Duncairn, Vesper and Reid Lake. The map shows the boundaries of the refuge, which contains Reid Lake water's and a few surrounding banks. The MBS is located north-west of highway 343. The scale of the map is in kilometers. Permanent and intermittent waters are shown on the map, as are roads and highways. An inset on the map shows the location of the shelter in Canada.

Access to the sanctuary

There are 16 public roads that provide access to the sanctuary. Please respect that, depending on the entry point, public access to Duncairn Reservoir Migratory Bird Sanctuary may be at the discretion of the many private landowners adjacent to the reservoir.

Tundra Swans
Tundra swans

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

Key facts about Duncairn Reservoir Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Protected Area designation Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Province or territory Saskatchewan
Latitude/longitude 50°02' N, 108°08' W
Size 1546 hectares
Date created (Gazetted) 1948
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Management Category V – Protected Landscape/Seascape
Additional designations None
Main habitat type Open water and mud flats (100%)
Key bird species Mallard, tundra swan, geese
Other species Birds: American white pelican, terns, great blue heron, killdeer, spotted sandpiper, willet, Wilson’s phalarope, semipalmated sandpiper, least sandpiper, Baird's sandpiper, pectoral sandpiper, sanderling, American avocet
Listed species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) None
Management agency Canadian Wildlife Service
Landowner Province of Saskatchewan

Related Links

Contact information

Environment and Climate Change Canada
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas – Prairie Region
115 Perimeter Road
Saskatoon, SK S7N 0X4

Toll Free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
Email: ec.enviroinfo.ec@canada.ca
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