Saint-Vallier migratory bird sanctuary

The Saint-Vallier Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) is located north-east of Québec city, in Québec. It protects many migratory birds, which are resting in the refuge during their migration.

Importance of the sanctuary: migratory birds and other wildlife

The Saint-Vallier Migratory Bird Sanctuary, located on the south shore of the St. Lawrence Estuary, near the municipality of Saint-Vallier was established in 1986 to protect migrating greater snow geese, Canada geese, and a variety of ducks as well as a large number of shorebirds.

Image of a flock of Greater Snow Geese in flight
Greater snow geese. Photo: Fabrice Kerleau

Each year a large number of greater snow geese visit this site and up to 60 000 individuals have been recorded within the sanctuary. Approximately 5000 Canada geese also put in an appearance in the fall months as do several thousand dabbling ducks (ducks that feed near the surface of the water) such as the American black duck and diving ducks (ducks that dive down below the surface of the water to feed) including several species of mergansers and scaups.

This sanctuary hosts a large number of shorebirds during both the spring and fall and this site is listed as one of the most important sites in Quebec for these birds. The most common shorebirds spotted within this protected area are semipalmated sandpipers, dunlins and least sandpipers, which range in numbers from several hundred to several thousand birds.

Image of a Semiplamated Sandpiper on shoreline
Semipalmated Sandpiper. Photo: Charles Francis

Other species also show up within the sanctuary including:

  • killdeer
  • herring gull
  • spotted sandpiper
  • lesser yellowlegs
  • greater yellowlegs
  • white-rumped sandpiper

Did you know?

The white-rumped sandpiper’s migration route is one of the longest of any North American bird. As it breeds in Canada and winters in southern South America, this bird’s migration route can sometimes take a month to travel!


This 365-hectare sanctuary encompasses a small bay named Anse de Saint-Vallier and the entire site is completely covered by water at high tide. While the majority of the sanctuary consists of mud and rocky outcrops the rest of it is covered by a herbaceous meadow. The vegetation within the meadow is mostly made up of American bulrush accompanied by wild rice, grassleaf arrowhead, erect arrowhead, northern arrowhead, water-parsnip, common boneset, rice cutgrass, tufted hairgrass and spike rush sp. Other plants can be found along the southern edge of the sanctuary including great bulrush, giant bur-reed, prairie cordgrass, joe-pye weed, purple loosestrife, northern manna grass, common reed and some species of sedge.

Map of the area

Map of Saint-Vallier MBS
Map of Saint-Vallier Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Long description

Map showing the location of the Saint-Vallier Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) in relation to Québec, Saint-Vallier, Saint-Vallier Cove, Mercier Cove, Bayer River and Saint-Lawrence River. The MBS is located north of road 132 and highway 20. The map shows the boundaries of the refuge, which enclose Mercier Cove and Saint-Vallier Cove. The scale of the map is in kilometers. Permanent waters, intertidal water, roads and highways are shown on the map. An inset shows the location of the refuge in Canada.

Access to the sanctuary

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

Key facts about Saint-Vallier migratory bird sanctuary

Summary table
Category Information
Protected Area designation Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Province or territory Quebec
Latitude/longitude 46° 53' 30" N 70° 51' 00" W
Size 356 hectares
Date created (Gazetted) 1986
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) management category Natural Monument or Feature (III)
Additional designations Saint-Vallier Important Bird Area
Main habitat type Mud and rocky outcrops, American Bulrush dominated herbaceous meadow 
Key bird species Greater snow goose and semipalmated sandpiper
Other species Birds: Canada goose, American black duck, greater scaup, lesser scaupleast sandpiperdunlinwhite-rumped sandpiperkilldeerblack-bellied ploverspotted sandpiperlesser yellowlegsgreater yellowlegs.  
Plants: American bulrush, wild rice, grassleaf arrowhead, erect arrowhead, northern arrowhead, water-parsnip, common boneset, rice cutgrass, tufted hairgrass and spike rush sp., great bulrush, giant bur-reed, prairie cordgrass, joe-pye weed, purple loosestrife, northern manna grass, common reed
Listed species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) None
Management agency Canadian Wildlife Service, Quebec Region

Related links

Saint-Vallier 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 QC G1J 0C3

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

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