Canada plays a vital role in protecting the worlds migratory bird
population. The first Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) was established at
Last Mountain Lake in Saskatchewan after the Migratory Birds Convention
Act was passed in 1917.
the United States passed the Act to protect birds from hunting and physical
disturbances. Other Migratory Bird Sanctuaries were established across
Canada except in Manitoba and the Yukon to provide havens
for migratory birds.
there are 98 MBSs in Canada covering 11.3 million hectares a land
mass two times the size of the province of Nova Scotia! MBSs function
as nesting grounds, feeding areas and resting spots at various times throughout
the year; birds stop over as they fly south in the fall and return again
as they fly north in the spring.
The smallest Migratory Bird Sanctuary is a mere 0.6 hectares. Eleanor
Island located in Lake Muskoka in Ontario is a haven for:
On the north shore of the Gulf of the St. Lawrence, Ile Sainte-Marie
is a major nesting site for thousands of seabirds.
Vaseaux Lake MBS comprises 282 hectares in the Okanagan Valley, British
Columbia, and is one of Canada's foremost birding areas. It is home
to Tundra and Trumpeter Swans, Great Horned Owls, and tiny Canyon Wrens,
which inhabit the cliffs away from the lake.
Maude Gulf, NWT
The largest sanctuary is Queen Maude Gulf in the Northwest Territories;
a MBS set up in 1961. More than 90% of the worlds small white
goose population nest in the Queen Maude Gulf MBS.
Migratory birds can also be found in any of the 48 National Wildlife Areas
(NWAs) set up under the Canada Wildlife Act. NWAs exist everywhere in
except in Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island. They were established
to conserve habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife species, particularly
those considered endangered species.
for example, is a nesting site in Quebec for the Piping Plover, an endangered
species in Canada. Lesser Snow Geese, ducks and shorebirds use British
Columbias Alaksen NWA in the Fraser River estuary as a migration
stopover and wintering area.
Pelee National Park
in Southern Ontario may perhaps be the most renowned bird migration
spot. More than 360 species of bird pass through Pelee. Experienced
bird watchers can sometimes spot 100 species in a single day! The best
spot to bird watch is along the southern most tip of the Point.
can be viewed as late as mid-December. And even though fewer birds are
spotted in autumn, extreme rarities are more likely to appear at this
time of year. Point Pelee may be the best location in North America
to view the northward migration of birds. Beginning in March, great
flocks of blackbirds, robins, geese, swans, ducks, gulls and morning
doves return. Mid-May marks the height of migration; more birds are
spotted in May than at any other time of the year.
Not all birds leave the frigid climate behind. Algonquin Park is well
known for its bird population and is home to several permanent residents
such as the Gray Jay, Boreal Chickadee and the Spruce Grouse. The Gray
Jay, for example, lives in the black spruce forests of the Park. During
the summer and fall the Gray Jay busily stores berries, insects and other
tidbits of food all over its territory so that it will have enough food
to survive the rough Canadian winter.
such as the Golden Eagle, the Bald Eagle, the Red Crossbill, the Pine
Grosbeak and the Common Redpoll are only spotted in Algonquin Park during
the colder months. The Pine Grosbeak, as one example, migrates south to
the Park in the fall. It arrives in late October and leaves to return
to the far North in early March. The Pine Grosbeak is a finch from the
Bird Sanctuaries and National Wildlife Areas are open to the public, except
those that remain closed seasonally and permanently for wildlife preservation
and due to their remote geographic location. Most do not have guides on
hand, however, visitors are welcome to catch a glimpse of Canadas
migratory bird population.