Esquimalt Lagoon Migratory Bird Sanctuary

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

Esquimalt Lagoon Migratory Bird Sanctuary: landscape
Photo: © Environment and Climate Change Canada. Esquimalt Lagoon Migratory Bird Sanctuary: landscape.

Esquimalt Lagoon Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) is located 10 km west of Victoria, British Columbia. Esquimalt Lagoon is a saltwater lagoon located at the southern end of Vancouver Island. The surrounding upland is wooded, with coniferous coastal forests interspersed with lands cleared for buildings and related uses. Vegetation consists of Douglas fir, grand fir and western red cedar at the tree level and sword fern, vanilla leaf, trillium and foam flower in the understory. A small stream, Glen Creek, enters the lagoon from the north, and the lower parts of the stream support Cutthroat Trout, which use the lagoon as their main feeding habitat. The lagoon is connected to the sea through a narrow channel at the end of a long sand and gravel spit that runs the length of the lagoon in a northeasterly direction. In the lagoon itself, bivalves, sea lettuce and eelgrass are abundant.

Importance of the Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Because of its sheltered location and readily available food, the lagoon attracts large numbers of waterbirds including the American Coot, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal and American Wigeon, which are most often found along the edges of the lagoon and at the northeast end where the waters are shallow. Diving ducks such as Canvasback, Bufflehead and Ruddy Duck frequent the deeper waters of the lagoon, particularly along the north side. Two gravel-bar islands are important loafing areas for waterfowl and gulls, and one rocky outcrop provides a loafing site for cormorants and Great Blue Herons.

Rare birds for the area are also regularly observed at the lagoon; these include Eurasian Wigeon, Hooded Merganser, Black Oystercatcher, American Golden-Plover, Common Tern and Western Meadowlark. The lower lagoon becomes critically important for waterfowl, particularly for those wintering inland, during periods of cold weather when freshwater lakes and ponds freeze.

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.

The standard prohibitions under the Migratory Bird Sanctuary Regulations apply to Esquimalt Lagoon MBS: 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.

Access prohibitions or restrictions by the MBS landowners (Province of British Columbia, Royal Roads University and private) may also apply.

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 for the Map

Map showing the location of Esquimalt Lagoon Migratory Bird Sanctuary relative to British Columbia, Colwood, Esquimalt, the Esquimalt Lagoon and the Juan De Fuca Strait. The map shows the boundaries of the sanctuary, which covers the Esquimalt Lagoon and a small portion of surrounding land. 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. Esquimalt Lagoon 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 Esquimalt Lagoon Migratory Bird Sanctuary
CategoryInformation
Protected Area designationMigratory Bird Sanctuary
Province or territoryBritish Columbia
Latitude/longitude48°25' N, 123°28' W
Size in hectares (ha)134 h
Date created (Gazetted)1931
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Management CategoryN/A
Additional designationsNone
Main habitat typeTidal lagoon (90%), marine spit (>5%), coastal forest (<5%)
Key bird speciesAmerican Coot, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Green‑winged Teal, American Wigeon, Canvasback, Bufflehead, Ruddy Duck, Cormorants, Great Blue Heron, Eurasian Wigeon, Hooded Merganser, Black Oystercatcher, American Golden-Plover, Common Tern and Western Meadowlark
Listed species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA)Great Blue Heron
Management agencyCanadian Wildlife Service, Pacific and Yukon Region
LandownersRoyal Roads University, Province of British Columbia and private

Contact Information

Environment and Climate Change Canada - Pacific and Yukon Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Ecosystem Conservation
5421 Robertson Road
Delta BC V4K 3N2
Toll Free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
Email: ec.enviroinfo.ec@canada.ca
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