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Lac Deschênes

Nature Canada / What we do / NatureHood / Lac Deschênes

Your NatureHood is nature right in your neighbourhood – from the biggest cities to the smallest communities. It’s where you live and includes not only humans and human landscapes but wildlife and their habitats.

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Why is my NatureHood important?

Lac Deschênes is recognized as a globally significant Important Bird Ar ea (IBA) because it is one of the larger bodies of water in this region that waterbirds depend on  during their spring and fall migrations. And it’s found right in the heart of the National Capital Region!

What is a ‘waterbird’? This includes species of loons, grebes, pelicans, cormorants, bitterns, egrets, herons, ibises, rails, coots, gulls, terns, and skimmers. By some definitions the list is even longer.

Some of the birds that stop on Lac Deschênes fly all the way from South America to the Arctic two times each year, while most of them are flying from parts of the southern United States and the eastern seaboard to parts of northern Québec and Ontario. Whatever the case, Lac Deschênes is a great spot to take a rest and re-fuel during a long flight!

What kind of wildlife is found there?

You’ll find lots of wildlife at Lac Deschênes – not just Canada Geese! During the spring and fall you can see and hear songbirds like Warblers and Vireos moving through the region, and huge groups of Ring-billed gulls, Herring and Great Black-backed gulls, and tens of thousands of waterbird species. August is ideal for watching Great Egrets on the move southward, and you may even spot some shorebirds moving through and feeding on exposed mud flats (when the river is low).

Numerous other waterbirds stop at the lake during their fall migration, including the more common dabbling and diving ducks such as Scoters and Common Golden-eye. Arctic Terns are seen sometimes in spring along with larger numbers of Common Terns. Only moderate numbers of shorebirds are seen along the shores of Lac Deschênes; particularly along the muddier parts of the shoreline at Shirley’s Bay and Andrew Hayden Park, both on the southern side of the lake in Ottawa.

And you’ll see other critters, too! The Lac Deschênes area is home to amphibians, reptiles, aquatic insects, mammals. and numerous freshwater fish. The IBA is also home to a wide variety of plant species from small aquatic plants to towering trees. The Government of Québec has identified significant habitats for at least two provincially at-risk plant species on islands in the Ottawa River just beyond the Lac Deschênes IBA.

Lac Deschenes boundary mapThe Lac Deschênes IBA is accessible from many points in Ottawa and Gatineau-Aylmer. Many kilometers of National Capital Commission bike and walking paths run alongside the IBA on both sides of the Ottawa River, right from the downtown cores. Plus there are excellent green spaces on both sides of the river, including Andrew Hayden Park, Shirley’s Bay, Mud Lake, Deschênes Rapids Park, the Aylmer Marina and more!

You may be able to walk, bike, hike, run, swim, canoe/kayak, glide or even SCUBA dive in your NatureHood! Chances are, it’s a great place for everyone to visit year-round!

For example, here are somet things to do in the National Capital’s NatureHood:

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Ride your bicycle

The National Capital Commision (NCC) maintains 31km of paved pathway that runs parallel to the Ottawa river and right through NatureHood Ottawa/Gatineau. Check out the NCC’s site for maps and information on how to make the most out of your bicycle trip down the river.

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Cool off with a dip in the Ottawa River at one of the city’s many riverside beaches. Inside the Ottawa-Gatineau Important Bird and Biodiversity Area are two beaches (Britannia and Westboro)with easy access to bikepaths and major roads and transportation hubs.

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Walk or run

Take stroll down the pathway and take in the beautiful scenery or join the many runners who flock to this quiet, car-free zone. For maps and suggestions on different pathway walks, check out the NCC’s site.

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Get out your camera

This is a perfect place to hone your nature and wildlife photography skills. There are many places where you are bound to spot wildlife at these wildlife hotspots.

How can I help my NatureHood?

Your NatureHood may be in or near one a large urban centre, or it may be very rural. No matter where it’s found, there are some simple ways to help keep your NatureHood healthy and attractive for humans and wildlife!

15 Ways to be a Good Neighbour in Your NatureHood:


Want more information? Download our brochure full of great tips to help keep your NatureHood natural:


Want to take your NatureHood stewardship to the next level? Check out the Conservation Plan for your NatureHood’s nearest Important Bird & Biodiversity Area (IBA). The Plans for select NatureHood areas are listed below:

Click to read the document

Conservation Plan for Ottawa-Gatineau’s Lac Deschênes-Ottawa River IBA


Conservation Plan for BC’s South Okanagan region’s Osoyoos Oxbows IBA








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