L'Islet Migratory Bird Sanctuary

The L'Islet Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) is located about 100 km north-east of Québec city, in the province of Québec. It protects an important habitat for many migratory birds, including the greater snow goose.

Importance of the sanctuary: migratory birds and other wildlife

L'Islet Migratory Bird Sanctuary, located on the south shore of the St. Lawrence Estuary, in the municipality of L'Islet, was established in order to protect greater snow geese and many species of duck in this important migration area. 

Greater snow geese
Greater snow geese

Fall surveys, when all of the birds in the sanctuary are counted, have recorded nearly 2000 pairs of greater snow geese, several dozen dabbling ducks, spotted sandpipers, killdeer and over 1800 sandpipers, including more than 300 individual semipalmated sandpipers. This protected area also supports colonial nesting species, among them the double-crested cormorant, common eider and razorbill. The ring-billed gull, herring gull and great black-backed gull can also be spotted in the area in the summer season.


The majority of this 59-hectare protected area covers the St. Lawrence River, with the remainder covering a wharf as well as part of the wharf’s road. Much of this sanctuary is composed of wetlands, brackish (slightly salty) water, muddy sediment and rocky outcrops as well as herbaceous meadows. These meadows cover approximately 60% of the sanctuary and are heavily vegetated by American bulrush. Due to its wet nature, this sanctuary is heavily impacted by the tides, which have a major impact on both the movement of the shoreline and the vegetation.

Greater snow geese

Greater snow geese. Photo: Chantal Lepire

Did you know?

Greater snow geese are herbivores. In the St. Lawrence estuary, these birds feed mainly on the roots of the abundant American bulrush, which they dig out of the mud with their strong, sharp bills.

Map of the area

Map of L'islet MBS
  • Long description

    Map showing the location of the L'Islet Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) in relation to Québec, l'Islet, Petite-Gaspésie and to Saint-Lawrence River. The map shows the boundaries of the refuge, enclosing a part of the shore and spread into the water.The MBS is located north-west of road 132 and highway 20, almost at the junction with road 285. The scale of the map is in kilometers. Permanent waters, intertidale water, roads and highways are shown on the map. An inset shows the location of the shelter in Canada.

Access to the sanctuary

Migratory Bird Sanctuaries, such as L'Islet, are established across the country to protect migratory birds during critical periods of their migration. Whether these areas are used for feeding, resting or nesting, they play an important role in the survival of many species. Please ensure that you are aware of how, as a visitor, you can help protect this sanctuary and, before accessing the site, please read the restrictions, including those on firearms and hunting, that are in place to conserve the wildlife that call it home. It is also important to remember that pets are not welcome 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 L'Islet Migratory Bird Sanctuary in particular, please contact our regional office.

Key facts about L'Islet Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Protected Area designation Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Province or territory Québec
Latitude/longitude 47° 7' 49" N 70° 22' 28" W
Size in hectares (ha) 59 ha
Date created (Gazetted) 1986
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) management category Natural Monument or Feature (III)
Additional designations L'Islet Important Bird Area
Main habitat type American Bulrush dominated herbaceous meadow
Key bird species Greater snow goose, semipalmated sandpiper, and spotted sandpiper
Other species Birds: Sandpipers spp., killdeer, ring-billed gull, herring gull and great black-backed gull
Plants: American bulrush, Victorin's water–hemlock, eastern wild rice (dwarf variety)
Listed species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) None
Management agency Canadian Wildlife Service, Quebec Region

Related links

L'Islet Migratory Bird Sanctuary on Google Maps (Please note that the Google map is a complementary source of information and does not represent the official map or site name)

Contact information

Environment Canada – Quebec Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas Unit
801-1550, avenue d'Estimauville
Québec, Quebec G1J 0C3

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

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