Saskatoon Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary

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

Trumpeter Swans picture
Photo: © Environment and Climate Change Canada. Trumpeter Swans.

Saskatoon Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) is situated 24 km northwest of Grande Prairie, Alberta. This lake is located in the Boreal Parkland ecoregion of northern Alberta. Water levels in the lake, which has an average depth of 2.5 m, are entirely dependent on runoff from the surrounding gently rolling terrain. No streams flow into or out of the lake. The shoreline varies from muddy and marshy, particularly in the bays, to extensive reaches of stony beach and gravelly boulder-strewn points. At one time, a large bay existed on the south side of the lake. Low water levels over the years have resulted in the bay’s being cut off from the main lake, forming a separate body of water known as Little Lake. Most of the terrestrial habitats within the MBS are located between Saskatoon Lake and Little Lake, and are included in a provincial protected area (Saskatoon Island Provincial Park).

Importance of the Migratory Bird Sanctuary

The Saskatoon Lake MBS was established in 1948 because of its value for waterfowl, in particular for the once-rare Trumpeter Swan. It is an important staging area for Tundra and Trumpeter Swans as well as for ducks including Mallard, Lesser Scaup, White-winged Scoter, Ruddy Duck, Canvasback, American Wigeon, Gadwall, Ring-necked Duck and Bufflehead. Little Lake is one of several lakes in the Grande Prairie region where the Trumpeter Swan breeds. Trumpeter Swans also nest periodically on the larger basin of Saskatoon Lake.

Dabbling and diving ducks nesting in the sanctuary include the Mallard, Northern Pintail, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Lesser Scaup, Redhead, Canvasback, White-winged Scoter, Ring-necked Duck and Ruddy Duck. Other water and marsh birds known or believed to nest in the area are the Canada Goose, Eared and Horned Grebes, Common and Black Terns, Franklin's Gull, American Bittern, Sora, and Red-winged, Yellow-headed and Rusty Blackbirds. Of the numerous shorebird species observed in the area, only the Killdeer, Black-bellied Plover and Spotted Sandpiper nest there.

The diversity of upland vegetation provides nesting habitat for the Northern Flicker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Downy Woodpecker, Eastern Kingbird, Tree and Barn Swallows, Black-capped Chickadee, Warbling Vireo, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Western Meadowlark, Pine Siskin, several species of sparrow, Ruffed Grouse, and several birds of prey.

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 the MBS is at the discretion of the landowner. The terrestrial habitats of the MBS are held by the Province of Alberta; most are within Saskatoon Island Provincial Park (www.albertaparks.ca). 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 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 Saskatoon Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary relative to Alberta and Sakatoon Lake. The map shows the boundaries of the sanctuary, which covers Saskatoon Lake, as well as a portion of adjacent land and a second nearby lake. The scale of the map is in hundreds of meters.

This map is for illustrative purposes only and should not be used to define legal boundaries. Saskatoon 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 Saskatoon Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary
CategoryInformation
Protected Area designationMigratory Bird Sanctuary
Province or territoryAlberta
Latitude/longitude55°13' N, 119°05' W
Size in hectares (ha)1149 ha
Date created (Gazetted)1948
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Management CategoryIV - Habitat/Species Management Area
Additional designationsPart of Grande Prairie - Trumpeter Swan Important Bird Area
Main habitat typeMarsh (32%), open water (60%), grassland/shrub/trees (8%)
Key bird speciesTrumpeter Swan, Tundra Swan
Other speciesBirds: Mallard, Lesser Scaup, White-winged Scoter, Ruddy Duck, Canvasback, American Wigeon, Gadwall, Ring-necked Duck, Bufflehead, Northern Pintail, Redhead, Canada Goose, Eared Grebe, Horned Grebe, Common Tern, Black Tern, Franklin's Gull, American Bittern, Sora, Red-winged Blackbird, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Rusty Blackbird, Killdeer, Black-bellied Plover, Spotted Sandpiper, Northern Flicker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Downy Woodpecker, Eastern Kingbird, Tree Swallow, Black-capped Chickadee, Warbling Vireo, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Western Meadowlark, Pine Siskin and Ruffed Grouse
Listed species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA)Rusty Blackbird
Management agencyCanadian Wildlife Service, Prairie and Northern Region
LandownerProvince of Alberta

Contact Information

Environment and Climate Change Canada - Prairie and Northern Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas and Stewardship Unit
Eastgate Offices
9250 - 49th Street
Edmonton AB T6B 1K5
Toll Free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
Email: ec.enviroinfo.ec@canada.ca
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