Mont-Saint-Hilaire Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Photo of Mont Saint-Hilaire
Photo: Vincent Carignan © Environment and Climate Change Canada. Mont Saint-Hilaire.

The Mont-Saint-Hilaire Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) is located in Montérégie, near the city of Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Quebec.

This 985 hectare sanctuary was established in 1960 to protect the area's many nesting birds. Mont Saint-Hilaire is an imposing feature in the landscape, rising up to 400 metres above the Richelieu River. The ecosystem, complete in itself, owes its exceptional characteristics to the remnants of precolonial forests, as well as the great diversity of plant and animal species that can be found here: 540 varieties of higher plant species form the natural flora of the site, some of which are found nowhere else in the vicinity.

Most of the MBS is covered in trees, such as sugar maple, American beech and yellow birch. Vegetation in the area varies according to the ecological characteristics of the environment. Thus; sugar maples, oak trees and pine thickets occur on the summits and steep slopes, but in areas where the ground is wetter, mixed stands of Sugar Maple, American Beech, Yellow Birch and American Basswood can be found. Forests located along streams, in depressions and around the perimeter of Hertel Lake are dominated by Ash, Red Maple, Yellow Birch and Eastern Hemlock. Other softwood trees, including Red Pine, Eastern White Cedar and, occasionally, White Spruce, are sometimes mixed in with deciduous species.

Importance of the Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Approximately 80 species of birds nest in the sanctuary and many of them spend the winter there.

Breeding raptors observed in the Mont Saint-Hilaire region are Northern Harrier, Sharp-shinned Hawk, American Kestrel, Barred Owl, Great Horned Owl and Peregrine Falcon. The Belted Kingfisher, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Least Flycatcher, Eastern Pheobe, Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, House Wren, Winter Wren, Eastern Bluebird, Cedar Waxwing and a variety of vireos, warblers and sparrows also feature among the wealth of species that nest in the area. Canada Geese and other similar species gather by the hundreds at Lake Hertel in the fall, using the sanctuary during migration only.

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 Mont-Saint-Hilaire 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 Mont-Saint-Hilaire Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Long description for the Map

Map showing the location of Mont-Saint-Hilaire Migratory Bird Sanctuary relative to Quebec, Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Saint-Jean-Baptiste, Beloeil and Rivière Richelieu. The map shows the boundaries of the sanctuary, which covers a section of land near Mont-Saint-Hilaire. 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. Mont-Saint-Hilaire 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 Mont-Saint-Hilaire Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Category Information
Protected Area designation Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Province or territory Quebec
Latitude/longitude 45° 33' 00" N 73° 09' 00" W
Size in hectares (ha) 985 ha
Date created (Gazetted) 1960
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) management category III - Natural Monument or Feature
Additional designations
  • Mont Saint-Hilaire Biosphere Reserve
  • Nature Reserve on private lands
Main habitat type Forests, lake
Key bird species Peregrine Falcon, Cerulean Warbler and Pileated Woodpecker
Other species Birds: Northern Harrier, Sharp-shinned Hawk, American Kestrel, Barred Owl, Great Horned Owl, Belted Kingfisher, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Least Flycatcher, Eastern Pheobe, Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, House Wren, Winter Wren, Eastern Bluebird, Cedar Waxwing. Amphibians and reptiles: Garder Snake, Ringneck Snake, Snapping Turtle, Blue-spotted Salamander, Wood Frog. Mammals: Striped Skunk, Red Fox, Raccoon, Porcupine, Muskrat, Red Squirrel, Chipmunk, White-tailed Deer Plants: Sugar Maple, American Basswood, Yellow Birch, American Beech, Ash sp., Red Maple, Eastern Hemlock, White Pine, Red Pine, White Cedar and White Spruce
Listed species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) Peregrine Falcon and Cerulean Warbler
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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