This sanctuary, one of our two most important properties, was acquired in 1955 with two major additions of land in more recent years. It is the foucus of a current multi-year project to improve its facilities for both visiting birders and the birds that they come to see.
The Philipsburg Sanctuary consists of roughly 175 acres of forest, marsh and lake habitat near the eastern shore of Missisquoi Bay, just adjacent to the US border crossing and at a point where the foothills of the Green Mountains meet the plain of the St. Lawrence Valley.
Most species of birds occurring in southern Quebec and northern New England have been seen here. Among species generally uncommon in Quebec but regularly breeding here are the Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Yellow-throated Vireo, Eastern Towhee and Field Sparrow. Beavers are responsible for the extensive marsh and pond system, which supports Wood Ducks, Least Bitterns, Sora and Virginia Rails although in recent years they have been less active with a consequent fall in the water levels in the marsh – something that we hope to mitigate in the next few years.
Amongst the many species present Golden-winged Warblers have nested in the sanctuary, and Cerulean Warblers are found regularly. Red-bellied Woodpeckers and Tufted Titmouse are also present.
Society field trips to the sanctuary in the spring and fall have been a high point on the birder’s calendar for many decades. Access to the sanctuary is via the small car park adjacent to the site of the now closed and demolished former motel on the east side of the road leading to the border crossing and about a half km north of it. We suggest that visitors drive south towards the border post but make a U-turn immediately before it in the handily provided loop. Drive slowly north, look out for a large white sign on the right advising US visitors to fasten safety belts that is in front of some trees … the entrance is immediately past those trees. You will see that are two gravel tracks – take the second, most northerly one as it is safer for most cars. Once on the old motel site turn south to where you will find the BPQ car park, a shelter with information and access to the trails.
Bird Protection Quebec’s Philipsburg (Montgomery) Bird Sanctuary project team have finally, after 18 months work, completed the designation, surveying, marking and mapping of the main trails in our sanctuary at Philipsburg. Thanks to everyone who has taken part at various stages of this huge project.
PDF Trail map Download
In due course, there will be more detailed maps of each named trail and a descriptive trail guide, but with this map everybody will be able to find their way around the sanctuary without getting lost. The green, blue and red trails are all marked with directional arrows along the trails going in both directions.
We would welcome comments from anyone who visits using this map so that we can improve it for the future.
Here are two galleries of recent photographs taken at Philipsburg – click any thumbnail to see the photographs full size:
A selection of photographs taken in the Philipsburg sanctuary by Robert Lévesque is shown below – click any thumbnail to open a full size album/slideshow