Saint-Augustin Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Photo of Areal view of Nicolet Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Photo: © Benoît Audet. Herring Gull.

The Saint-Augustin Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) lies along the south shore of Île de la Grande Passe in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, south of the community of Saint-Augustin on the Lower North Shore.

The sanctuary, which covers an area of 5369 hectares, was established in 1925 to protect a major seabird nesting site. Several dozen islands (excluding Île Kennedy), islets and rocks are within the MBS. In total, it spans nearly 13 km and includes all waters within its boundaries.

The coastal marine zone and rocky outcrops make up the largest portion of the landscape, a typical feature of the majority of sanctuaries situated on the North Shore. Shrubland and herbaceous meadows cover approximately 20% of the site's total area. The flora consists predominantly of American Sea Rocket, American Beachgrass and Sea Lyme grass, along with Sea-beach Sandwort, Kentucky Bluegrass, Fowl Meadow Grass, Canada Bluegrass, Baltic Rush (littoralis variety) and Windowed Dock.

Importance of the Migratory Bird Sanctuary

The MBS supports seven key species of birds: Herring Gull, Common Eider, Black Guillemot, Great Black-backed Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Common Tern and Arctic Tern. The most common species is the Herring Gull. Despite a population boom, from 50 birds in 1925 to some 6200 in 1988, this species subsequently suffered a considerable decline, with only 1793 birds recorded in 2010.

The Common Eider had a population between 950 and 1500 individuals during the period from 1935 to 1960, but it fell dramatically to a mere 12 birds in 1998. In 2010, 94 of these birds were recorded.

Numbers of Black Guillemots were consistently recorded at 110 to 185 birds between 1935 and 1960. However, these numbers dropped rapidly thereafter, and only six individuals were observed in the MBS in 2010.

As for the Great Black-backed Gull, its population was plentiful in 1940, with up to 900 birds recorded, but subsequent surveys showed their numbers varying from only 40 to 320 individuals.

The population of Ring-billed Gulls is even more variable. Some years this species has been absent from the sanctuary, whereas other years their numbers have fluctuated between a few dozen to several hundred birds (the maximum number counted was 1300 in 1960). Only 216 birds were recorded in 2010.

According to previous inventories, Common and Arctic Terns were breeding in large numbers within the sanctuary. Four previous surveys set numbers at more than 600 birds (reaching a maximum of 1000 in 2005).

It should also be noted that Red-throated Loons were nesting in the MBS when inventories were carried out between 1925 and 1965. A maximum of 22 individuals were recorded in both 1940 and 1960. However, the last mention of this species nesting in the Saint-Augustin MBS dates back to 1982.

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 Saint-Augustin 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 Îles de la Paix Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Long description for the Map

Map showing the location of Saint-Augustin Migratory Bird Sanctuary relative to Quebec, La Grosse Île, Île du Petit Rigolet, Île Wakeham, Île de la Grande Passe, Île Kennedy, Havre Augustin and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The map shows the borders of the sanctuary, which covers Île Kennedy, sections of Île de la Grande Passe and various small land masses as well as the surrounding water. The scale of the map is in kilometers.

This map is for illustrative purposes only and should not be used to define legal boundaries. Saint-Augustin 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 Saint-Augustin Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Category Information
Protected Area designation Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Province or territory Quebec
Latitude/longitude 51° 08' 00" N 58° 28' 00" W
Size in hectares (ha) 5369 ha
Date created (Gazetted) 1925
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) management category Ia - Strict Nature Reserve
Additional designations Saint-Augustin Migratory Bird Sanctuary Important Bird Area
Main habitat type Water and rocky outcrops, shrubland and herbaceous meadow
Key bird species Herring Gull, Common Tern and Arctic Tern
Other species Birds: Great Black-backed Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Black Guillemot and Common Eider.
Plants: American sea rocket, American beachgrass, Baltic rush
Listed species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) None
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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