Kentville Migratory Bird Sanctuary

The Kentville Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) is located in Kentiville, Nova Scotia. It offers a gathering site for many birds, such as waterfowl.

Importance of the sanctuary: migratory birds and other wildlife

Situated just west of the town of Kentville, in Kings County, Nova Scotia, the Kentville Migratory Bird Sanctuary is a very important area for regional waterfowl populations. From late summer through early fall, waterfowl gather in this area during their migratory journey and, on any given day during this time period, several hundred of these birds can be spotted in the sanctuary.

This sanctuary is of local significance for regional waterfowl populations. In the past this has included species like American black duck, blue-winged teal and green-winged teal.  Broods of American black duck have also been spotted within the sanctuary marsh.

Raptors such as the red-tailed hawk and northern harrier also make an appearance in the sanctuary and are often seen flying over and hunting in the open meadow. The woodlands adjacent to the Kentville bird sanctuary trail are a favourite bird watching site for nature lovers.

Landscape of Kentville Migratory Bird Sanctuary. Photo: Colin MacKinnon


The main features of this 200-hectare sanctuary are a 100-hectare floodplain, grassy marsh containing many small, shallow ponds and backwaters as well as the meandering Cornwallis River. This fertile wetland is dominated by reed canary grass, but a variety of other plants including blue-joint and spike rush as well as a wide variety of pondweeds and other aquatic plants also happily grow here.

Did you know?

The blue-winged teal are more vocal than most other ducks. They are also among the first ducks to migrate each fall, and one of the last to return in the spring.

Blue-winged Teals
Blue-winged teals

The slow-moving river varies from one to three metres in depth and, along with the many shallow ponds around it, supports an abundance of both plant and animal life. Near the eastern end of the sanctuary, the water in the river is slightly brackish (mixture of salt and freshwater) as there is a slight tidal influence.

Map of the area

Map of Kentville Migratory Bird Sanctuary
  • Long description

    Map showing the location of the Kentville Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) relative to Nova Scotia and Kentville. The map shows the boundaries of the refuge, which include the Cornwallis River. The MBS is located north of Highway 101. The map scale is in kilometers. Permanent waters, roads and highways are shown on the map. An insert on the map shows the location of the shelter in Canada.


Since the establishment of this sanctuary, the town of Kentville has expanded so that the entire southern half of the sanctuary, the portion south of the Cornwallis River, is now within the town limits and includes some small housing subdivisions and industrial facilities. To the north, the sanctuary is bounded by Melvern Square Road and Brooklyn Street and includes a portion of Canadian Forces Base Aldershot. To its south, the sanctuary borders the former main line of the Dominion Atlantic Railway, which is now a community walking trail.

Access to the sanctuary

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

Key facts about Kentville Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Protected Area designation Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Province or territory Nova Scotia
Latitude/longitude 45°05' N, 64°32' W
Size 200 hectares
Date created (Gazetted) 1939
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) management category N/A
Additional designations None
Main habitat type Marsh and river channel (37%), old fields (10%), open pine forest (19%), deciduous woodlands (21%), residential and industrial areas (13%)
Key bird species American black duck, blue-winged teal, green‑winged teal, red-tailed hawk, and northern harrier
Other species Plants: Blue-joint and spike rush
Listed species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) None
Management agency Canadian Wildlife Service, Atlantic Region
Landowners Department of National Defense, Province of Nova Scotia and private

Related links

Contact information

Environment and Climate Change Canada - Atlantic Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas Program
17 Waterfowl Lane
Sackville NB  E4L 1G6

Toll Free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)

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