Port Hebert Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Port Hebert Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Photo: Colin MacKinnon © Environment and Climate Change Canada. Port Hebert Migratory Bird Sanctuary, wintering Canada Geese.

Port Hebert Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) is a shallow coastal inlet 12 km in length, located on the southeast shore of Nova Scotia. The inlet is 1-2 km wide at its mouth and widens to over 2 km at the innermost limits. The sanctuary section is located on the northeastern extremity of the inlet. The tidal range of 1.2-2.4 m exposes extensive areas of eelgrass flats at low tide, with meandering deeper channels intersecting the flats. Two small brooks, Mitchell Brook and Granite Village Brook, flow into the sanctuary. The muddy intertidal flats support luxuriant growths of eelgrass along with marine algae. Marine invertebrates including moon-shell, dog-whelk, macoma and periwinkle are common. The shoreline about the sanctuary is rocky, with a small section of salt marsh at the mouth of Mitchell Brook. The adjoining upland is mixed forest consisting of spruce fir, red maple and white birch with scattered mature white pines.

The Port Hebert MBS, in concert with the nearby Port Joli and Sable River MBSs, supports upwards of 4000-5000 Canada Geese annually. Geese first arrive at Port Hebert in late September and remain until mid-March, with peak numbers occurring in late October to early November. Occasionally in mid-January, severe winter weather causes the inlet to freeze over, and the wintering waterfowl are forced to move to the nearby Sable River MBS where open water is still available.

Importance of the Migratory Bird Sanctuary

The Port Hebert Sanctuary, with nearby protected areas, supports over 40% of the wintering Canada Geese in the Atlantic provinces. These numbers are largely weather dependent, as geese are often more widely dispersed during mild winters with little ice cover.

The MBS is also an important staging and wintering area for American Black Ducks, with numbers exceeding 1000 birds in late January to early February. Migrant American Black Ducks start to build up in the sanctuary as early as late August, and significant numbers remain there until early April. Smaller numbers of Green-winged Teal and Northern Pintail use the sanctuary during early fall. Diving ducks including Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead, scaups, scoters and mergansers arrive in late fall and remain in small numbers (a few hundred) throughout the winter.

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 Port Hebert MBS is not restricted. The standard prohibitions under the Migratory Bird Sanctuary Regulations apply to this site: 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, 1982.

Map of the Area

  • Map of Port Hebert Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Long description of the map

Map showing the location of Port Hebert Migratory Bird Sanctuary in relation to Nova Scotia and Port L'Hebert. The map shows the boundaries of the sanctuary, which encompasses a portion of Port L'Hebert following the shoreline. The map is in hundreds of meters.

This map is for illustrative purposes only and should not be used to define legal boundaries. Port Hebert 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 Port Hebert Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Category Information
Protected Area designation Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Province or territory Nova Scotia
Latitude/longitude 43°52' N, 64°58' W
Size in hectares (ha) 346 ha
Date created (Gazetted) 1941
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) management category Ia - Strict Nature Reserve
Additional designations Part of Nova Scotia South Shore (Port Joli Sector) Important Bird Area
Main habitat type Shallow coastal water (89%), channels and deeper areas (10%), wooded island (1%)
Key bird species Canada Goose, American Black Duck, Green-winged Teal, Northern Pintail, Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead, scoters, mergansers and Greater Scaup
Listed species under the Species at Risk Act(SARA) None
Management agency Canadian Wildlife Service, Atlantic Region
Landowners Province of Nova Scotia and private

Contact Information

Environment and Climate Change Canada - Atlantic Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas Program
17 Waterfowl Lane
Sackville NB E4L 1G6
Toll Free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
Email: ec.enviroinfo.ec@canada.ca
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