Mont-Saint-Hilaire Migratory Bird Sanctuary

The Mount Saint-Hilaire Migratory Bird Sanctuary is located east of Montreal island, in Québec. It preserves quality habitat for many song birds and birds of prey, which live here year round.

Importance of the sanctuary: migratory birds and other wildlife

The Mount Saint-Hilaire Migratory Bird Sanctuary, located in Montérégie, near the city of Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Quebec, was established in 1960 to protect the many birds that nest in this area.

Approximately 80 species of birds are thought to nest within the sanctuary’s boundaries, many of which likely spend the winter there as well. Among the wealth of species to be spotted are the belted kingfisher, eastern wood-pewee, least flycatcher, eastern phoebe, great crested flycatcher, eastern kingbird, house wren, winter wren, eastern bluebird, cedar waxwing and a variety of vireos, warblers and sparrows. Breeding raptors can also be observed in the Mont Saint-Hilaire region including:

  • northern harrier
  • sharp-shinned hawk
  • American kestrel
  • barred owl
  • great horned owl
  • peregrine falcon
Peregrine Falcon. Photo: Benoit Audet

Canada geese and several other species of waterfowl also put in an appearance and are known to gather by the hundreds at Hertel Lake during the fall migration.

Did you know?

The eastern kingbird owes its name to its aggressive nature. Durant nesting periods, it adopts an aggressive approach, even towards much bigger birds. It sometimes manages to land on the back of an intruder in order to more easily strike them in the head with its beak.

Landscape

Mont Saint-Hilaire, rising up to 400 metres above the Richelieu River, is an imposing feature in the landscape of this 985-hectare sanctuary. Part of this sanctuary’s charm is due to the remnants of old growth forests (completely untouched by humans) that are still standing tall today. This, combined with the 540 varieties of higher plant species, some of which are found nowhere else in the vicinity, and the great diversity of animal species make this site unique in the area.

Mont Saint-Hilaire Migratory Bird Sanctuary. Photo: Vincent Carigna

While most of the sanctuary is covered in trees, the species to be found vary by location and the wetness of the soil. The summits and steep slopes are dominated by sugar maples, oak trees and pine thickets while in the lower, wetter areas the trees are mostly sugar maple, American beech, yellow birch and American basswood. Along the streams that run through the sanctuary as well as around Hertel Lake the trees are mostly ash, red maple, yellow birch and eastern hemlock. Other softwood trees, including red pine, eastern white cedar and, occasionally, white spruce, can sometimes be spotted mixed in with deciduous species throughout the sanctuary.

Map of the area

Map Mount Saint-Hilaire MBS
Long description

Map showing the location of the Mount Saint-Hilaire Migratory Bird Sanctuary, in relation to Québec, Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Saint-Jean-Baptiste and Richelieu River. The map shows the boundaries of the refuge. The MBS is located south east of road 116. The scale of the map is in kilometers. Permanent waters and roads are shown on the map. An inset shows the location of the shelter in Canada.

Access to the sanctuary

Migratory Bird Sanctuaries, such as Mount Saint-Hilaire, 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 Mount Saint-Hilaire Migratory Bird Sanctuary in particular, please contact our regional office.

Key facts about Mount Saint-Hilaire Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Table summary
Protected area designation Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Province or territory Quebec
Latitude/longitude 45° 33' 00" N 73° 09' 00" W
Size 985 hectares
Date created (Gazetted) 1960
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) management category Natural Monument or Feature (III)
Additional designations Mont Saint-Hilaire Biosphere Reserve
Nature Reserve on private lands
Main habitat type Forests, lake 
Key bird species Peregrine falconcerulean warbler and pileated woodpecker
Other species Birds: Northern harriersharp-shinned hawkAmerican kestrel, barred owlgreat horned owlbelted kingfisher, eastern wood-peweeleast flycatchereastern phoebe, great crested flycatchereastern kingbirdhouse wren, winter wreneastern bluebirdcedar waxwing

Amphibians and reptiles: Garter snake, ringneck snake, snapping turtle, blue-spotted salamander, wood frog 

Mammals: Striped skunkred foxraccoon, 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  subspecies anatum-tundrius (status being reassessed) and cerulean warbler
Management agency Canadian Wildlife Service, Quebec Region

Related links

Mount Saint-Hilaire 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 and Climate Change 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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