Mississippi Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Mississippi Lake: landscape
Photo: © Environment and Climate Change Canada, 2014. Mississippi Lake: landscape.

The Mississippi Lake National Wildlife Area (NWA) is located within the boundary of the Mississippi Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) (300 ha). Mississippi Lake, which appears as a swelling of the Mississippi River, contains at its southwestern end a small bay known as Mud Lake or McEwen Bay. This bay was formed in 1890 after the construction of a dam by a milling company about 20 km downstream at Carleton Place. It is around this bay that the NWA and MBS are centred. A small stream, McIntyre Creek, flows into the southern end of McEwen Bay, which connects to the Mississippi Lake. A peninsula and an island restrict the mouth of the bay.

Prior to flooding, McEwen Bay was low-lying farmland. Now the farmland occurs along its western boundary. The surrounding region consists of gently rolling terrain, with a sedimentary base. Limestone outcroppings occur in the upland areas.

McEwen Bay is relatively shallow, with an average depth of about 1.5 m. The bottom is muddy, with loose vegetative debris and silt covering much of its surface. In spite of its brown colour, the water is fairly clear. A very lush growth of aquatic plants can be found around the shoreline between the open water and wild rice stands. During high water years, wild rice is often the most abundant emergent to be found, forming extensive beds along the shore of the bay and river. Cattail occurs in the bay; however, few dense cattail stands are evident. Flooded scrub, or more specifically willow-dogwood-maple thicket, dominates the land surrounding the bay. In some areas, this community is replaced by silver maple swamp at the aquatic interface. Backing the thicket, in some areas on dry land, is a mature hardwood forest, consisting primarily of maple, elm and ash with some patches of white cedar.

Importance of the Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Durring fall migration, up to 10 000 ducks can pass through the site in a day, primarily American Black Ducks, Mallards, Wood Ducks, Ring-necked Ducks, Blue-winged Teal, Green-winged Teal and Hooded Mergansers. They gather here as a refuge from hunting pressure outside of the MBS boundary. The site is periodically used as a waterfowl banding 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.

Public access to portions of the Mississippi Lake MBS that overlap the Mississippi Lake NWA is seasonally restricted. In addition, access to the MBS is prohibited from September 15 to December 15, except to directly access Mississippi Lake via the NWA boat launch on McIntyre Creek. The standard prohibitions under the Migratory Bird Sanctuary Regulations apply to this site as well: 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 authorized by the Regulations. Possession of firearms or other hunting appliances is prohibited. 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,

Map of the Area

  • Map of Rideau Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Long description of the map

Map showing the location of Mississippi Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary with respect to Ontario, Innisville, Cooke's Shore, McCreary's Shore, Mississipi Lake, McEwen Bay and the Mississippi Lake National Wildlife Area. The map shows the boundaries of the sanctuary, which extends into Mississippi Lake, covers McEwen Bay, and extends inland overlapsping a large portion of the Mississippi National Wildlife Area. The scale of the map is in tenths of a kilometer.

This map is for illustrative purposes only and should not be used to define legal boundaries. Mississippi Lake MBS 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 Mississippi Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Category Information
Protected Area designation Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Province or territory Ontario
Latitude/longitude 45°03' N, 76°14' W
Size in hectares (ha) 300 ha
Date created (Gazetted) 1959
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) management category IV - Habitat/Species Management Area
Additional designations
Main habitat type Marsh and shallow open water, swamp, upland deciduous forest, old field (former agriculture), and meadow
Key bird species  
Other species Fish: Yellow Perch, Pumpkinseed, Smallmouth Bass, Bluegill, Northern Pike and Yellow Pickerel
Reptiles and Amphibians: 14 species including American Bullfrog, Northern Leopard Frog, Snapping Turtle, Midland Painted Turtle and Northern Garter Snake
Mammals: Beaver, River Otter, Muskrat, Short-tailed Shrew, Masked Shrew, Meadow Vole, Deer Mouse, Eastern Chipmunk and White-tailed Deer
Listed species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) Least Bittern, Red-shouldered Hawk, Canada Warbler, Golden-winged Warbler, Rusty Blackbird, Snapping Turtle, Eastern Musk Turtle, Monarch, Broad Beech Fern and Butternut
Management agency Canadian Wildlife Service, Ontario Region
Landowners Canadian Wildlife Service, Province of Ontario and private

Contact Information

Environment and Climate Change Canada - Ontario Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Ecosystem Conservation
4905 Dufferin Street
Toronto ON M3H 5T4
Toll Free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
Email: ec.enviroinfo.ec@canada.ca
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