Eleanor Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Importance of the Migratory Bird Sanctuary | Access and Activities | Map of the Area | Summary Table | Contact Information

Eleanor Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary: landscape
Photo: © Blake A. Mann. Eleanor Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary: landscape.

Eleanor Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS), a small, rocky island located in the lower section of Lake Muskoka, is about 1.6 km from the mainland. The island is also managed by Environment and Climate Change Canada as a National Wildlife Area. It is highest on the west side, and slopes toward the east. The eastern third of the island is a mixture of red oak, eastern white cedar, eastern white pine and various shrubs, including elderberry. Approximately half of the pines are dead. The central part of the island is a mixture of grasses and raspberry shrubs. The higher western third of the island is composed of bare, rounded granite rock with clumps of grasses and shrubs scattered throughout. The western rock face drops steeply to the water's edge.

Importance of the Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Eleanor Island MBS supports one of the few gull and heron colonies in the vicinity of Lake Muskoka. In 1970, the island was reported to have 20 to 30 nesting pairs of Great Blue Herons and approximately 300 pairs of nesting gulls (mainly Ring-billed Gulls and some Herring Gulls). During a visit to the island in the spring of 1983, 23 Great Blue Heron nests were observed. At that time, only 5 herons were on nests, but another 25 were flying about the island. Most of the heron nests were located in dead white pine snags (5 of the 13 in white pine trees), and the remaining nests were in red oak trees.

In 2009, 238 Double-crested Cormorant nests and 30 Great Blue Heron nests were found in the trees, while 266 Herring Gull nests were located on the ground. Ring-billed Gulls appeared to have abandoned the site at some point between 1983 and 2009. Interestingly, the appearance of cormorants nesting in the trees does not appear to have negatively impacted the number of nesting herons. It is unlikely that cormorants would have caused the Ring-billed Gulls to leave the island.

An expansion of the dense grass/raspberry shrub and/or dense shrub zones would reduce the nesting area available for Herring Gulls.

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 Eleanor Island MBS is prohibited.

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 Environment and Climate Change Canada's protected areas, 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

Long description of the map

Map showing the location of Eleanor Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary relative to Ontario, Muskoka Beach, Browning Island, St. Elmo, Eleanor Island, Lake Muskoka and Eleanor Island National Wildlife Area. The map shows the boundaries of the sanctuary, which covers Eleanor Island and are identical to those of Eleanor Island National Wildlife Area. 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. Eleanor Island 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 Eleanor Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary
CategoryInformation
Protected Area designationMigratory Bird Sanctuary
Province or territoryOntario
Latitude/longitude44°59' N, 79°30' W
Size in hectares (ha)0.6 ha
Date created (Gazetted)1971
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) management categoryIa - Strict Nature Reserve
Additional designationsEleanor Island National Wildlife Area
Main habitat typeShrub/tree (30%), bare rock/scattered grass and shrub (50%), grass/shrubs (20%)
Key bird speciesGreat Blue Heron, Herring Gull and Double-crested Cormorant
Other speciesBirds: Ring-billed Gull
Listed species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA)None
Management agencyCanadian Wildlife Service, Ontario Region
LandownerCanadian Wildlife Service, Ontario Region

Contact Information

Environment and Climate Change Canada - Ontario Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Ecosystem Conservation
4905 Dufferin Street
Toronto ON M3H 5T4
Toll Free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
Email: ec.enviroinfo.ec@canada.ca
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