Wascana Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary

The Wascana Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) is located in Regina, in Saskatchewan. It offers a quality habitat for many waterfowl species to rest, feed and nest.

Importance of the sanctuary: migratory birds and other wildlife

The Wascana Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary lies within the City of Regina, Saskatchewan and encompasses part of the Wascana Waterfowl Park, located within a larger park complex called the Wascana Centre. This sanctuary was established on July 12, 1956, following a campaign initiated in the early 1950s by Fred Bard, Director of the Saskatchewan Museum of Natural History. Dr. Bard was worried about the effects of urban expansion on migratory birds in the Wascana Centre area.

The park complex was developed around a human-made lake and associated marshes on Wascana Creek, and includes the Provincial Museum of Natural History, the Saskatchewan Legislative Buildings and the University of Regina campus. 

Canada Geese
Canada geese
 

Did you know?

Frederick Bard was a conservation pioneer. He was one of the first people in North America to call attention to the plight of the endangered whooping crane and he was also involved in bringing the Canada goose back to the prairies after they had all but disappeared. 

Over 200 breeding pairs of Canada geese nest in the park each year, as do several species of ducks including mallard, northern pintail and blue-winged teal. The sanctuary also attracts at least 115 species of other migratory birds, including large numbers of waterfowl that use the sanctuary for resting and feeding in the spring and fall. Three human-made islands within the sanctuary provide protected nesting habitat for these waterfowl.

Black tern
Black tern. Photo: Neil Dawe


Canada geese from the Wascana flock were used in restocking programs throughout Saskatchewan and as far away as Quebec, British Columbia, Florida and New Mexico at a time when the conservation of this species was a concern. In recent years, the numbers of Canada geese at this site have reached up to 7500 individuals at a time.

Landscape

The land in Wascana Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary is largely composed of manicured lawns interspersed with native and exotic trees, shrubs, and bedding plants. Small areas of native grassland and shrubland are also found within the sanctuary. Most of the emergent wetland vegetation occurs in the southeast portion of the lake and along the banks of Wascana Creek where there are dense stands of cattail, bulrush, sedge and phragmites. The submerged aquatic vegetation includes pondweeds and water milfoil, which are found throughout the lake. These underwater plants are frequently and intentionally disturbed by the dredging and skimming of the lake carried out by the Wascana Centre Authority in order to improve water quality. A 40-hectare parcel of land adjacent to the southeast end of the sanctuary is used for lure crops to protect nearby commercial grain crops outside the city limits.

Map of the area

Map of Wascana Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary
  • Long description

    Map showing the location of the Wascana Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) in relation to Saskatchewan, Regina, Tern Island, and Wascana Lake. The map shows the refuge boundaries, which enclose a part of Wascana Lake, a few islands and runs towards inland from the southern coast. The MBS is near Highways 1 and 33 junction's. 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.

Planning your visit

There is much to do in and around the Wascana Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary and the Wascana Centre including self-guided tours, boat tours and canoe or kayak rentals; there are also several parks and play areas to explore. Bird enthusiasts will enjoy visiting the waterfowl display ponds, which are home to the centre’s injured and captive waterfowl. In the summer, you’ll have the chance to feed the birds and display panels will help you identify the species that you may see.

Migratory Bird Sanctuaries, such as Wascana 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. Parts of this sanctuary are established on private lands, so please respect that private landowners may restrict access. 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 Wascana Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary in particular, please contact our regional office.

Key facts about Wascana Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Protected Area designation Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Province or territory Saskatchewan
Latitude/longitude 50°26' N, 104°36' W
Size 104 hectares
Date created (Gazetted) 1956
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Management Category N/A
Additional designations None
Main habitat type Open water and marsh (55%), islands (5%) and city park (40%)
Key bird species Canada goose, mallard, northern pintail and blue-winged teal
Other species Birds: Pied-billed grebe, horned grebe, eared grebe, common tern, black tern, sora, marsh wren, red-winged blackbird, yellow-headed blackbird, Brewer's blackbird, killdeer, American avocet, spotted sandpiper, Wilson’s phalarope, flycatchers, swallows, sparrows, common loon, American white pelican, double-crested cormorant, great blue heron, black-crowned night-heron, tundra swan, and Forster's tern
Listed species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) None
Management agency City of Regina and Canadian Wildlife Service
Landowners City of Regina and the Provincial Capital Commission – Wascana Centre

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)
Email: ec.enviroinfo.ec@canada.ca

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