Protection may be achieved by various means, including land-use zoning, long-term agreements with landowners and outright acquisition of land by wildlife agencies. Protected land areas may be designated as national wildlife areas, conservation areas, game reserves, etc. Where habitat protection is the main goal, hunting may be permitted or prohibited depending on circumstances at the site. Both types of protection seek the same end - conservation of Canada's heritage of birds and other wildlife.
Migratory Bird Sanctuaries
At present, 98 migratory bird sanctuaries are administered by the federal CANADIAN WILDLIFE SERVICE : Newfoundland has 3; Prince Edward Island, one; Nova Scotia, 8; New Brunswick, 2; Québec, 33; Ontario, 10; Saskatchewan, 15; Alberta, 4; BC, 7; Northwest Territories, 5; and Nunavut 10. Of these, one straddles the Nunavut-Ontario border; another that of Nunavut-Québec. Some of the most renowned of these are described below.
Sable Island (NS)
Machias Seal Island (NB)
Ile Bonaventure (Qué)
Upper Canada (Ont)
Last Mountain Lake (Sask)
George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary (BC)
Bylot Island (Nunavut)
Most provincial wildlife agencies have also established bird sanctuaries within their own boundaries; of particular importance are British Columbia's and Newfoundland's seabird sanctuaries and the PELICAN and grouse refuges in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.
Important migratory bird habitats are protected in the Canadian Wildlife Service's 49 National Wildlife Areas in 8 provinces and the 3 territories. They include the following well-known sites.
Long Point (Ont)
Vaseaux Lake (BC)
Polar Bear Pass (Nunavut)
Provincial wildlife agencies have also set aside several wildlife habitat areas, many chosen specifically for their variety and richness as bird habitats. Several other important bird areas are protected and managed jointly by federal and provincial wildlife departments. For example, in the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area, BC, provincial and federal governments, in collaboration with private agencies and individuals, protect and manage a rich wetland area important to migrating waterfowl.
Other Protected Areas
Birds and their habitats are protected in Canada's national parks and in most provincial parks. Of special interest is WOOD BUFFALO NATIONAL PARK (Alberta-NWT border), the only known nesting area of the endangered WHOOPING CRANE. Municipalities, private institutions, bird clubs and individuals have also done much to protect important areas, eg, Ile-aux-Basques, a nesting island for eiders, gulls and HERONS in the St Lawrence estuary, purchased in 1927 by the Provancher Society of Natural History; Jack MINER'S sanctuary (est 1904) near Kingsville, Ont, which has attracted flocks of Canada geese; and Alf Hole Goose Sanctuary near RENNIE, Man.
Migratory birds regularly travel across national boundaries and must be considered an international heritage. In signing the Ramsar Convention for the Conservation of Wetlands of International Importance as Waterfowl Habitat (1981), Canada pledged to protect important wetlands, including such sites as Alaksen, Cap-Tourmente and the Queen Maud Gulf (Nunavut), an important breeding ground for Ross's, snow, and Brant geese and many other waterbirds. Canada now has wetlands of international importance designated under the Ramsar Convention, covering over 13 million hectares.
Although Canada enjoys an enviable reputation for establishing bird sanctuaries and reserves, reason for concern remains. POLLUTION, disturbance, habitat destruction and hunting continue to threaten bird populations.
Author AUSTIN REED
Links to Other Sites
Ducks Unlimited Canada
All Ducks Unlimited organizations conserve, restore and manage wetlands and associated habitats for North America’s waterfowl. These habitats also benefit other wildlife and people.
East Coast Birds
Extensive information source about the natural history of birds found in Canada's Atlantic region. A Nova Scotia Museum website.
All About Birds
Search this online bird identification guide for information on specific bird species found in North America. Click on the dynamic map of eBird sightings for a magnified view. From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the US.
See links to Canadian websites dedicated to the natural history of bird species in Canada. From the Virtual Museum of Canada.
Long Point Bird Observatory
Learn about the natural history and ongoing research programs at Ontario's Long Point Bird Observatory, home to nearly 370 species of birds. From Bird Studies Canada.
The State of Canada's Birds
The State of Canada's Birds report offers a comprehensive picture of the current health of bird populations in Canada.
Quill lakes International Bird Area
The website for the Quill lakes International Bird Area. Over one million shorebirds, ducks, geese, cranes, and songbirds stop here while traveling North America's Central Flyway,
Bird Studies Canada
The website for “Bird Studies Canada,” an organization dedicated to preserving wild birds and their habitats. Search this site for the latest information on bird sightings and populations, checklists and maps, species at risk, and more.
Migratory Birds Conservation Division
The website for the Migratory Birds Conservation Division of the Wildlife Conservation Branch of CWSCWS, a leader in many international, national and regional migratory bird conservation programs.
Nature Conservancy of Canada
The website for the Nature Conservancy of Canada, a private, non-profit organization working for the direct protection of Canada's biodiversity through the purchase, donation or placing of conservation easements on ecologically significant lands.
Prairie Shores Program
An information website for the Prairie Shores Program. Focuses on the management of native grassland and wetland habitats for resident bird populations in the Quill Lakes region. From the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority.
Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network
The website for the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network, a conservation program that aims to protect key shorebird habitats in the Americas. Click on the links for profiles of specific sites throughout Canada.
Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre
A great information source about the natural history and educational programs offered at the Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre, a major wetland conservation area and one of North America’s birding hotspots.
Important Bird Areas in Canada
An extensive database of key facts and maps about bird populations, habitat types, and land use activities associated with Important Bird Areas across Canada. To search the database, click on "IBA database." Then, click on the "Show IBA List" button to see a list of these locations.
Environment Canada: Nature
The website for the Canadian Wildlife Service. Provides information about the management of Canada's wildlife populations and habitats. Also offers links to related Canadian agencies.
Evidence for Conserving Biofilm for Higher-level Organisms
A summary of research into the importance of conserving biofilm found on mud flats and other aquatic environments. From Environment Canada.
Atlantic Laboratory for Avian Research
See links to a multitude of studies on terrestrial and marine bird populations in the Atlantic Canada region. From the Atlantic Laboratory for Avian Research, University of New Brunswick.