Île aux Hérons migratory bird sanctuary

Photo Great Blue Herona
Photo: © Simon Pierre Barrette, alias Cephas CC BY-SA. Great Blue Heron.

The Île aux Hérons Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) encompasses most of the Lachine Rapids, south of the Island of Montreal. Île aux Hérons, Île au Chèvres and Île au Diable are all part of the MBS, as well as Île à Boquet, which runs along the St. Lawrence Seaway. The waters surrounding these islands, as well as several other small islands and islets are also included.

Established in 1937 to protect an essential nesting site for the Great Blue Heron, the MBS now covers a 631 hectare area. The aquatic vegetation surrounding the islands comprises plants such as Eurasian Watermilfoil, Alisma Plantago-aquatica, Sago Pondweed, Americana Tapegrass, Water Stargrass, Tuberous Waterlily (or White Waterlily) and Small Skullcap. Other common herbaceous plants and shrubs found on these low relief islands are Giant St. John's Wort and Staghorn Sumac, while American Basswood, American Elm and Slippery Elm are the most commonly found species of tree. The site also supports some endangered plant species such as Butternut and Green Dragon.

Importance of the Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Depending on the time of year, different avian species use the Île aux Hérons MBS for either staging or nesting. The site is known for the favourable nesting conditions it offers the Great Blue Heron. However, the population of this species has declined substantially in past years, falling from 910 birds in 1999 to 48 in 2001. In contrast, the site supports increasing numbers of nesting Great Egrets and Black-crowned Night Herons. Other species, including Mallard, American Wigeon, Gadwall, American Black Duck, Red-winged Blackbird and Yellow Warbler also nest in the MBS. During migration, several species of waterfowl, such as Common Goldeneye, American Black Duck, Mallard and Green-winged Teal are regularly observed at the site. Horned Grebes can also be seen on occasion. During winter months, the MBS is used by a number of Red-breasted Mergansers.

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 Hérons 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 protected areas managed by Environment and Climate Change Canada in Quebec, 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 Hérons Migratory Bird Sanctuary relative to Quebec, Île de Montreal, Île au Diable, Île aux Hérons, Sainte-Catherine and the St. Lawrence River. The map shows the boundaries of the sanctuary, which covers Île au Diable and Île aux Hérons as well as a portion of the surrounding water and land. 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. Île aux Hérons 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 Hérons Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Category Information
Protected Area designation Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Province or territory Quebec
Latitude/longitude 45° 25' 00" N 73° 35' 00" W
Size in hectares 631 ha
Date created (Gazetted) 1937
International Union for Conservation of Nature
(IUCN) management category
III - Natural Monument or Feature
Additional designations
Main habitat type Submerged beds and woodland
Key bird species Great Blue Heron
Other species Birds: Black-crowned Night Heron, Great Egret, American Black Duck, American Wigeon, Mallard, Gadwall, Red-winged Blackbird, Yellow Warbler Plants: American Elm, Eurasian Watermilfoil, Alisma Plantago-aquatica, Sago Pondweed, Americana Tapegrass, Water Stargrass, Tuberous Waterlily, White Snakeroot, Small Skullcap, Giant St. John's Wort, Staghorn Sumac
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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