Scent Grass Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary

The Scent Grass Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) is located north-east of Battleford, in Saskatchewan. It offers quality habitat for ducks and geese to breed and nest.

Importance of the sanctuary: migratory birds and other wildlife

Scent Grass Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary, located 24 kilometers northeast of North Battleford, Saskatchewan, is one of five sanctuaries established on November 3, 1948. These five sanctuaries were created as replacements for five other Migratory Bird Sanctuaries that were deemed to no longer be suitable as migratory water bird refuges due to prolonged drought conditions. This particular sanctuary is recognized as an important refuge for waterfowl as well as other marsh and water birds.

While many species of ducks use Scent Grass Lake as a breeding area, this sanctuary has an even greater value as a moulting area for both the ducks that nest there as well as those nesting on nearby Moore Lake. In the late fall, up to 2000 ducks can be spotted in the sanctuary, including many mallards and northern pintails, as well as up to 7000 geese, including Canada geese, white-fronted geese, Ross’s geese and lesser snow geese.

Snow Geese at Scent Grass Lake.
Snow geese at Scent Grass Lake

Did you know?

Snow geese have a dark patch along the edges of their pink bills. This dark patch is sometimes called a “grinning patch” or “black lips” because it gives the geese the appearance of having an open-mouthed grin.

Snow Goose
Snow goose

A variety of other species use the sanctuary, adjacent marsh and surrounding lands. Birds that are known to or suspected to breed in the sanctuary include:

  • pied-billed grebe
  • American bittern
  • black-crowned night heron
  • sora
  • killdeer
  • willet
  • spotted sandpiper
  • marbled godwit
  • Wilson’s snipe
  • Wilson’s phalarope
  • franklin's gull
  • black tern
  • marsh wren
  • red-winged blackbird
  • yellow-headed blackbird


Situated in Saskatchewan’s Aspen Parkland ecoregion, Scent Grass Lake is fed by spring runoff and seasonal rains as well as Page Creek and several natural springs. An earthen dam on the west end of the lake and a dyke on the east end maintain water levels and reduce natural fluctuations.

The plant life along the shoreline varies from the aspen, maple and willow trees found on the south shore to grasslands dotted with isolated stands of aspen and willow around the rest of the lake. The emergent vegetation in the lake is mostly composed of bulrush, cattail and sedge. It grows in dense stands on the northwestern end of the lake as well as on the Page Creek delta and a narrow band of these plants border the north shore. The aquatic plant life includes pondweeds in the deeper, open-water areas of the lake and water milfoil, hornwort, water crowfoot and similar species in the shallow areas closer to shore. The lands surrounding the lake are mostly cultivated croplands, with a few remaining patches of fescue prairie.

Map of the area

Map of Scent Grass Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary
  • Long description
    Map showing the location of the Scent Grass Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) in relation to Saskatchewan, Iffley, Moore Lake and Scent Grass Lake. The map shows the refuge boundaries, which enclose most of the Scent Grass Lake. The MBS is located east of Highway 4. 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

The sanctuary is situated near the Moosomin and Thunderchild Indian Reserves. Three public roads provide access to the Scent Grass Migratory Bird Sanctuary, however some of the surrounding lands are privately owned. Please respect that private landowners may restrict access.

Migratory Bird Sanctuaries, such as Scent Grass 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.

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

Key facts about Scent Grass Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Protected Area designation Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Province or territory Saskatchewan
Latitude/longitude 52°58' N, 108°09' W
Size 633 hectares
Date created (Gazetted) 1948
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Management Category IV – Habitat/Species Management Area
Additional designations None
Main habitat type Open water (85%) and marsh (15%)
Key bird species Mallard, northern pintail, Canada goose, white-fronted goose, Ross's goose and lesser snow goose
Other species Birds: Pied-billed grebe, American bittern, black-crowned night-heron, sora, killdeer, willet, spotted sandpiper, marbled godwit, Wilson's snipe, Wilson's phalarope, Franklin's gull, black tern, marsh wren, red-winged blackbird and yellow-headed blackbird
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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