Île aux Basques migratory bird sanctuary

Île à la Brume Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Photo: Bruno Drolet © Environment and Climate Change Canada. Île aux Basques Migratory Bird Sanctuary.

The Île aux Basques Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) is located in the St. Lawrence Estuary, off the coast of the city of Trois-Pistoles. The sanctuary encompasses three main islands: Île aux Basques, Île Razade d'en Haut (northeast) and Île Razade d'en Bas (southwest). The two latter islands are located downstream of Île aux Basques. The MBS extends 500 m in all directions from each island and includes all islets and reefs within this perimeter.

This 840 hectare protected area was established in 1927 to protect an important nesting site for the Common Eider and other colonial birds. With very little elevation, the îles Razade feature low-lying vegetation consisting of species such as Bluejoint Reedgrass, Sea Lymegrass, Sea-coast Angelica and Scottish Licorice-root. With an elevation of nearly 45 m, the central part of Île aux Basques supports a large forest of Balsam Fir, Black and White Spruce, White Birch, Trembling Aspen and Balsam Poplar, covering nearly three quarters of the island. The northeast and southwest ends of the island are covered with herbaceous plants and shrubs. At low tide, a large mud flat appears on the south side of the island.

Importance of the Migratory Bird Sanctuary

The Île aux Basques MBS supports a large variety of birds, during both nesting and migration periods. A variety of shorebird species, including the Semipalmated Plover, Black-bellied Plover, Spotted Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstone, Least Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper and Sanderling, can be observed during migration on the south and north shores of Île aux Basques.

During migration the most frequently observed species in the site are, undoubtedly, the Common Eider, Herring Gull and Double-crested Cormorant. Found only on the Îles Razade, the Double-crested Cormorant has increased significantly in numbers over time. Surveys conducted in the 1970s confirmed that around one hundred of these birds frequented the islands, but by 2010 this number had grown to almost 800 birds. In contrast, populations of Common Eiders and Herring Gulls have dropped significantly over the last few decades. In the 1980s, 1000 to 2000 Common Eiders were recorded on the Îles Razade, but in 2010 the number dropped to 636 birds. In 2010-11, inventories, which covered all species of observable gulls (Herring, Ring-billed and Great Black-backed) documented a total of 466 birds, compared to 3000 Herring Gulls alone recorded in the 1970s.

Lesser numbers of other species, such as Great Blue Heron, Black-legged Kittiwake and Razorbill also use the protected area as a nesting site.

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 Île aux Basques 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 specifically authorized by the Regulations. Possession of firearms or other hunting appliances is prohibited, and dogs and cats must not be allowed to run at large.

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 Île à la Brume Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Long description of the map

Map showing the location of Île aux Basques Migratory Bird Sanctuary relative to Quebec, Trois-Pistoles, Rivière des Trois-Pistoles, Île aux Basques, Anse des Riou and the St. Lawrence River. The map shows the boundaries of the sanctuary, which is separated into 3 sections covering Île aux Basques as well as two smaller islands and a portion of the surrounding water. The scale of the map is in kilometers.

This map is for illustrative purposes only and should not be used to define legal boundaries. Île aux Basques Migratory Bird Sanctuary 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 Île aux Basques Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Category Information
Protected Area designation Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Province or territory Quebec
Latitude/longitude 48° 08' 29" N 69° 15' 00" W ; 48° 10' 45" W 69° 9' 32" W ; 48° 12' 13" W 69° 8' 14" W
Size in hectares 840 ha
Date created (Gazetted) 1927
International Union for Conservation of Nature
(IUCN) management category
III - Natural Monument or Feature
Additional designations
Main habitat type Mixed-wood forest, shrubland and herbaceous meadows
Key bird species Common Eider, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Black-legged Kittiwake, Semipalmated Plover, Black-bellied Plover, Spotted Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstone, Least Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Sanderling and Fox Sparrow
Other species Plants: Balsam Fir, White Spruce, White Birch, Trembling Aspen, Balsam Poplar, Sea Lymegrass, Seabeach Groundsel, Sea-coast Angelica, Scottish Licorice-root and Bluejoint Reedgrass
Listed species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) None
Management agency Canadian Wildlife Service, Quebec Region

Contact Information

Environment and Climate Change Canada - Quebec Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas Unit
801-1550, avenue d'Estimauville
9250 - 49th Street
Québec, Quebec G1J 0C3
Toll Free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
Email: ec.enviroinfo.ec@canada.ca
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