Îles Sainte-Marie migratory bird sanctuary

Photo Part of Îles Sainte-Marie Archipelago
Photo: Richard Cotter © Environment and Climate Change Canada. Îles Sainte-Marie Archipelago.

The Îles Sainte-Marie Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) is located on the North Shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, approximately 15 km off the coast from the village of Chevery, and 20 km from the village of Harrington Harbour. The site covers thirteen islands including the archipelagos of Îles Sainte-Marie, Îles Cliff and Îles aux Perroquets (formerly Îles Boat), as well as all islets, rocks and waters within a 1 km radius surrounding the archipelagos.

The MBS was established in 1925 to protect Common Eider and other seabird colonies during nesting season. This 3980 hectare protected area comprises rocky outcrops and a large number of freshwater ponds, each no more than 75 m in diameter. In terms of the topography, the northeast side of the islands slopes gently towards the sea, whereas the southwest side is much steeper, and punctuated by ridges and ledges. Being continually windswept, the area's low-lying vegetation features predominantly arctic-alpine species typically found in tundra landscapes, such as Moss Campion, Loose-flowered Sedge and Knotweed. Stunted shrubs, such as Balsam Fir and Black Spruce, appear among the area's vegetation. The ground is also home to a variety of lichens and approximately one hundred plant species.

Importance of the Migratory Bird Sanctuary

The Îles Sainte-Marie MBS is one of the richest nesting sites in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Of all the sanctuaries of the North Shore, it is in this one that seabirds are the most abundant and diversified.

Of the 14 species of breeders recorded in the area, the large number of Common Eiders, Common Murres, Atlantic Puffins and Razorbills is testament to the significance of the site for these colonial species. The islands also support large populations of Ring-billed and Great Black-backed Gulls, Great and Double-crested Cormorants, Blacks Guillemots, Red-Throated Loons and Black-legged Kittiwakes. Apart from seabirds, the Îles Sainte-Marie archipelago supports several passerine species, including the Savannah Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, American Pipit and Horned Lark. The islands' shorelines also attract shorebirds, such as the Semipalmated Plover.

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 Îles Sainte-Marie 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.

Access denial or restrictions imposed by the owners of land within the MBS 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 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 Îles Sainte-Marie Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Long description for the Map

Map showing the location of Îles Sainte-Marie Migratory Bird Sanctuary relative to Quebec, Archipel de Sainte-Marie (including Îles aux Perroquets, Îles Cliff and Îles Sainte-Marie) and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The map shows the boundaries of the sanctuary, which covers Îles aux Perroquets, Îles Cliff and Îles Sainte-Marie as well as a portion of the surrounding waters. The scale of the map is in kilometers.

This map is for illustrative purposes only and should not be used to define legal boundaries. Îles Sainte-Marie 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 Îles Sainte-Marie Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Category Information
Protected Area designation Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Province or territory Quebec
Latitude/longitude 50° 18' 02" N 59° 39' 34" W
Size in hectares (ha) 3980 ha
Date created (Gazetted) 1925
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Management Category Ia - Strict Nature Reserve
Additional designations Îles Sainte-Marie Important Bird Area
Main habitat type Rocky outcrops, freshwater ponds and tundra
Key bird species Common Eider, Common Murre, Razorbill,
Atlantic Puffin
Other species Birds: Double-crested Cormorant, Great Cormorant, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Common Tern, Arctic Tern, Black-legged Kittiwake, Black Guillemot, Red-throated Loon, Savannah Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, American Pipit and Horned Lark Mammals: Meadow Vole and Red Fox Plants: Balsam Fir, Black Spruce, Labrador Tea, Sweet Gale, Lichens and Sea Lymegrass
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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