Île aux Grues upper marsh (Photo by NCC)

Île aux Grues upper marsh (Photo by NCC)

The upper marshes of Île aux Grues

Bobolink (Photo by Bill Hubick)

Bobolink (Photo by Bill Hubick)

Île aux Grues is in the middle of the St. Lawrence River, approximately 80 kilometres east of Quebec City. It is recognized as a high biodiversity site in the province. More than 200 bird species nest or use the habitats found here during migration.

Île aux Grues is connected to Île aux Oies by a tidal flat: the upper marshes (Haut-marais). This strip of land is subject to flooding caused by the river’s high tide. It is designated as a Waterfowl Gathering Area, under the Regulation Respecting Wildlife Habitats of the Government of Quebec.

Among the many birds that inhabit Île aux Grues are:

  • bobolink, a threatened species in Canada;
  • Nelson’s sharp-tailed sparrow, a species likely to be designated as at risk in Quebec;
  • short-eared owl, a species of special concern in Canada likely to be designated as at risk in Quebec;
  • yellow rail, a species of special concern in Canada and threatened in Quebec.

The upper marshes are also preferred hunting grounds for many birds of prey, including peregrine falcon.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) conserves 170 hectares (421 acres) on the island, including the Jean-Paul-Riopelle Nature Reserve at Pointe aux Pins. The meadows on these NCC-protected sites feature diverse plants. Victorin’s gentian, a plant species designated as threatened in Quebec and Canada, grows here. Its habitat is limited to this portion of the St. Lawrence River. Here, the fresh water of the river mixes with the salt water of the ocean and is referred to as “brackish.”

Île aux Grues is located in the heart of the St. Lawrence River estuary. NCC is involved in protecting important marshes and riparian forests to ensure the survival of species that depend on the habitats in this vast natural area.


This project, implemented by NCC, was made possible thanks to the valuable contribution of the Ministère de l'Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques du Québec (through the Ensemble pour la nature project), the Government of Canada's Natural Areas Conservation Program and the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. Private donors were also involved, including Pierre Lamothe and members of the Club des ornithologues de Québec.

NCC thanks all our donors and partners who have made it possible to protect this magnificent territory of the upper marshes of Île aux Grues, helping to ensure the survival of species that depend on these precious habitats.

Learn more

The yellow rail and short-eared owl: two threatened species on Isle-aux-Grues

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