Upper Rousay Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Photo of Snow Geese
Photo: © Thinkstockphotos.ca. Horned Grebe.

Upper Rousay Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) is situated 6 km southeast of Yorkton, Saskatchewan. It was one of five replacement sanctuaries established on November 3, 1948, to replace five other sanctuaries that had become unsuitable as migratory water bird refuges because of drought conditions.

The MBS is located in the Aspen Parkland ecoregion of Saskatchewan. Upper Rousay Lake is part of a larger wetland complex of shallow, interconnected water bodies including Lower Rousay, York, Leech and Crescent lakes. Water levels in the complex fluctuate substantially, and are largely dependent on local runoff and some intermittent streams. Upper Rousay Lake has an average depth of 0.5 m, and includes numerous bays, peninsulas and temporary islands, as well as several artificial islands constructed by Ducks Unlimited Canada. The entire shoreline of the lake is characterized by sedges and associated wet meadow grasses. Scattered clumps of aspen and willow occur on the periphery of the lake. Most of the uplands bordering the lake were cultivated, and are now used for tame pasture, hay and cereal crops.

Importance of the Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Upper Rousay Lake provides excellent breeding and moulting habitat for waterfowl. Large numbers of ducks, both dabblers and divers, and Canada Geese nest there every year. The lake is also an important fall staging area for ducks, particularly Mallards, and geese.

Other breeding water and marsh birds include Horned, Eared, Pied-billed and Red-necked Grebes; Sora; Marsh Wren; and Red-winged and Yellow-headed Blackbirds. The Great Blue Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, American Bittern, Common Loon, Western Grebe, American White Pelican, Herring Gull and Ring-billed Gull have been observed there in the summer. A variety of shorebirds also use the area, and Wilson's Phalarope, Marbled Godwit, Killdeer, Wilson's Snipe, Upland Sandpiper, Willet, Spotted and Baird's Sandpipers, and American Avocet are known or suspected breeders. The Semipalmated Plover; Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs; Pectoral, Least and Solitary Sandpipers; and Short-billed Dowitcher can be found during migration.

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 Upper Rousay Lake MBS is at the discretion of the surrounding private landowners. 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 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 Scent Grass Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Long description of the map

Map showing the location of Upper Rousay Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary relative to Saskatchewan, Yorkton, Rousay Lake and York Lake. The map shows the boundaries of the sanctuary, which covers a portion of Upper Rousay Lake. The scale of the map is in tenths of a kilometer.

This map is for illustrative purposes only and should not be used to define legal boundaries. Upper Rousay Lake 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 Upper Rousay Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Category Information
Protected Area designation Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Province or territory Saskatchewan
Latitude/longitude 52°11' N, 102°35' W
Size in hectares (ha) 364 ha
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 (55%), marsh/sedge meadow (45%)
Key bird species Canada Goose and Mallard
Other species Birds: Horned Grebe, Eared Grebe, Pied-billed Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, Sora, Marsh Wren, Red-winged Blackbird, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Great Blue Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, American Bittern, Common Loon, Western Grebe, American White Pelican, Herring Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Wilson's Phalarope, Marbled Godwit, Killdeer, Wilson's Snipe, Upland Sandpiper, Willet, Spotted Sandpiper, Baird's Sandpiper, American Avocet, Semipalmated Plover, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Pectoral, Least Sandpiper, Solitary Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher
Listed species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) None
Management agency Canadian Wildlife Service, Prairie and Northern Region
Landowner Province of Saskatchewan

Contact Information

Environment and Climate Change Canada - Prairie and Northern Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas and Stewardship
115 Perimeter Road
Saskatoon, SK S7N 0X4
Toll Free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
Email: ec.enviroinfo.ec@canada.ca
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