Nicolet migratory bird sanctuary

The Nicolet Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) is located south of Trois-Rivières, in Québec. Many Migratory birds use it to feed, breed and rest.

Importance of the sanctuary: migratory birds and other wildlife

The Nicolet Migratory Bird Sanctuary, located on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, west of the city of Nicolet, was established in 1982 to protect the numerous waterfowl that rest, feed and nest in the area. In the spring, large numbers of geese and a great diversity of dabbling ducks (ducks that feed near the surface of the water) are attracted to the flooded areas within the sanctuary.

During the fall, over 8000 dabbling ducks use the sanctuary as a resting and feeding area as do Canada geese and several other species of waterbirds.

Over the course of the breeding season, many species of ducks breed in this prime waterfowl nesting location including:

  • wood duck
  • American black duck
  • mallard
  • northern pintail
  • northern shoveler
  • gadwall
  • American wigeon
  • redhead
  • ring-necked duck
  • green-winged teal
  • blue-winged teal
  • ruddy duck

Other birds that are spotted here in the summer include:

  • killdeer
  • least bittern
  • spotted sandpiper
  • common snipe
  • black tern
  • American bittern
  • swamp sparrow
  • sora
  • common yellowthroat
  • Wilson's phalarope
Image of a Least Bittern
Least Bittern. Photo: Benoit Jobin

Did you know?

Wood Ducks lay their eggs in nests high up in a tree, usually near a body of water. When the chicks are ready (usually 1 to 4 days after hatching), they make a spectacular leap from the nest, which can be around 50 feet above the ground, to follow their mother to the water.


This 2937-hectare protected area is made up of a variety of different habitats, ranging from wet grasslands to swamps and marshes nearer to the water’s edge. The sanctuary, which borders Lake Saint-Pierre and stretches along this widening of the River from Île Moras in the east all the way to la Longue Pointe in the west, extends over 2.5 kilometres in width. As the elevation within the sanctuary is very low, it is almost entirely water-logged during spring flooding.

Aerial view of Nicolet MBS
Nicolet Migratory Bird Sanctuary. Photo: Christine Lepage

The portion of the marshlocated near the lake remains essentially submerged and is vegetated primarily by river bulrush. Beyond this permanently flooded zone, the land tends to dry up gradually giving way to a plant-rich herbaceous meadow of bluejoint reedgrass, reed canary grass and carex sp.. A shrubby and arborescent area supports amongst other speckled alder,willows and silver maple. The waterfowl habitat in this sanctuary was also enhanced in 1988 when Ducks Unlimited developed a 140-hectare marsh within the boundaries of the sanctuary.

Map of the area

Map of Nicolet MBS
Map of Nicolet MBS
Long description

Map showing the location of the Nicolet Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) in relation to Québec, Nicolet, Nicolet River andSaint-Pierre Lake (Saint-Lawrence River). The map shows the boundaries of the refuge, which enclose part of the Saint-Pierre Lake and runs towards inland. The MBS is located west of road 132. The scale of the map is in kilometers. Permanent waters, roads, and highways are shown on the map. An inset shows the location of the shelter in Canada.

Access to the sanctuary

Migratory Bird Sanctuaries, such as Nicolet, 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 Nicolet Migratory Bird Sanctuary in particular, please contact our regional office. Please note that this site is mostly located on a Department of National Defence property.

Key facts about Nicolet Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Table summary
Protected area designation Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Province or territory Quebec
Latitude/longitude 46 °12' 00" N 72° 40' 00" W
Size 2937 hectares
Date created (Gazetted) 1982
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) management category Ia - Strict Nature Reserve (Ia)
Additional designations
Main habitat type Series of different habitats: aquatic, river bulrush marsh, swamp, woodland and wet grassland
Key bird species Least bitternsora, ruddy duck and common gallinule
Other species Birds: Canada goosewood duckAmerican black duck, mallard, northern pintail, northern shoveler, gadwall, American wigeonredhead, ring-necked duck, green-winged teal, blue-winged tealkilldeerspotted sandpiperWilson’s snipe, Wilson's phalaropeblack tern, American bitternswamp sparrow, and common yellowthroat

Amphibians and reptiles: Snapping turtle, leopard frog and green frog. 

Mammals: Raccoon, muskrat, snowshoe hare, red squirrel, northern flying squirrel, white-tailed deer 

Plants: River bulrush, reed canary grass, red ash, bluejoint reedgrass, tufted vetch, silver maple, speckled alder and willow spp.
Listed species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) Least bittern
Management agency Canadian Wildlife Service, Quebec Region

Related links

Nicolet 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)

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