Neely Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary

The Neely Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) is located near Hudson Bay, in Saskatchewan. It protects quality habitat for many ducks, geese and swan to rest and feed.

Importance of the sanctuary: migratory birds and other wildlife

Neely Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary was established in 1952, along with Opuntia Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary, to replace the Quill Lakes sanctuary that was delisted in the same year. Located 50 kilometres southwest of the town of Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan, this sanctuary encompasses Neely Lake and the islands within it as well as the surrounding land that is normally covered in water.

This site is an important fall resting and feeding area for Canada geese and it is also used by a small number of white-fronted geese, tundra swans and various species of ducks.

Canada Geese
Canada geese

A few pairs of Canada geese regularly breed within the sanctuary as do certain species of duck including:

  • lesser scaup
  • ruddy duck
  • bufflehead
  • common goldeneye
  • canvasback
  • mallard
  • blue-winged teal
Ruddy Duck
Ruddy duck


Neely Lake is shallow and located in the mixed-wood forest and fen-patterned peatland of the Mid-Boreal Upland ecoregion. As there are no creeks feeding into the lake, its main sources of water are spring runoff and groundwater recharge from the surrounding bog and muskeg terrain.

Did you know?

Muskeg was originally an Algonquin term meaning “grassy bog”. This landscape is found mostly in northern regions and is formed mostly out of dead, decomposing plants and sphagnum moss, which acts as a sponge, absorbing many times its weight in water.

The nearby Red Deer River and Shand Creek are also thought to contribute ground water to Neely Lake’s water supply. Local beavers influence the water levels in the lake by building dams. When the water is high, it drains out on the east side of the lake, eventually reaching Bubbling Creek to the northeast.

When the water levels in the lake are average (neither exceedingly high, nor low), cattail, bulrush, spangletop and sedge form a border, up to 75 metres wide, around the whole lake, with the largest stands forming at the south and north ends. Patches of these same plants can also be seen throughout the lake and the islands within it are essentially floating mats of vegetation. Beyond this border along the shoreline, the plant life consists mostly of sedges and various associated wet meadow species. The lands around the lake support dense stands of trembling aspen, balsam poplar, black spruce, patterned peatland bog and fen as well as tame pasture and cultivated cropland. There is also a community pasture on the east side of the lake.

Map of the area

Map of Neely Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary
  • Long description
    Map showing the location of the Neely Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) in relation to Saskatchewan, Neely Lake, Red Deer River, McKillop Creek, Shand Creek, and Boundary Creek. The map shows the boundary of the refuge, which enclose Neely Lake. The scale of the map is in kilometers. Permanent and intermittent waters are shown on the map, as are roads and highways. An inset on the map shows the location of the shelter in Canada.

Access to the sanctuary

Migratory Bird Sanctuaries, such as Neely Lake, 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.

Please respect that public access to the Neely Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary is at the discretion of the many private landowners and crown leaseholders adjacent to the lake, or via the limited municipal road access points. 

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 Neely Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary in particular, please contact our regional office.

Key facts about Neely Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Protected Area designation Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Province or territory Saskatchewan
Latitude/longitude 52°43' N, 102°48' W
Size 809 hectares
Date created (Gazetted) 1952
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Management Category IV – Habitat/Species Management Area
Additional designations None
Main habitat type Open water and mud flats (95%), wet meadow (4%) and islands (1%)
Key bird species Canada goose, white-fronted goose, tundra swan, lesser scaup, ruddy duck, bufflehead, common goldeneye, canvasback, mallard and blue-winged teal
Other species Birds: Eared grebe, pied-billed grebe, black tern, killdeer, marsh wren, red-winged blackbird, yellow-headed blackbird, Le Conte's sparrow, sora, Wilson's snipe, Wilson's phalarope, Franklin's gull, common yellowthroat, American bittern, common loon, greater yellowlegs, lesser yellowlegs, red-necked phalarope, short-billed dowitcher, American golden plover, black-bellied plover, pectoral sandpiper, least sandpiper, buff-breasted sandpiper and northern waterthrush
Listed species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) None
Management agency Canadian Wildlife Service
Landowner Province of Saskatchewan

Related links

Contact information

Environment and Climate Change Canada
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas – Prairie Region
115 Perimeter Road
Saskatoon, SK S7N 0X4

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