This year’s Manitoba IBA assistant

My name is Patricia Rosa and I will be working as IBA program assistant thanks to Urban/Hometown Green Team funding.

I am currently working on my PhD in Natural Resources and Environmental Management at the University of Manitoba’s Natural Resources Institute. Prior to coming to Winnipeg, I completed a Master’s in Avian Behavioural Ecology and a Bachelor’s in Animal Physiology at Université de Montréal (yes, I speak French!).

I was first initiated to bird research in aviaries during my Master’s where I looked at how social factors affected mate choice and food preferences in Zebra Finches.

Fun Finding: Copycats are lazy!

Female Zebra Finch that were lazier foragers were more likely to copy the choice of others when it came time to choose a mate or a new food source1.

The scale of my research has definitely expanded since my days in the aviaries! My current research consists of a large-scale, multi-year study assessing effects of oil infrastructure and anthropogenic noise on grassland songbirds (e.g. Baird’s Sparrow, Sprague’s Pipit, Vesper Sparrow)2,. Over the course of four field seasons, my colleagues and I conducted avian transect surveys, used a very sophisticated method to find and monitor nests (i.e. drag a rope across the prairie to flush the parent off the nest, then proceed to carefully dig around the grass to locate and mark it for monitoring), and took nestling measurements and fecal samples from our most abundant species, Savannah Sparrow and Chestnut-collared Longspur, to determine if there are physiological disadvantages to growing up in a noisy area.

Fun Finding: Singing in the noise

When confronted with the challenge of singing in the presence of loud drilling noise, Savannah Sparrows and Baird’s Sparrows altered their songs to attempt to compensate for this interference, but opted for different strategies: Savannah Sparrow sang at higher frequencies, while Baird’s Sparrow sang at lower ones3.

Since grassland bird populations have endured steep constant declines and vast amounts of their habitat has already been lost, my research goal is to isolate potential negative effects driven by oil development to inform management decisions and the implementation of effective mitigation measures.

What I hope to achieve through my work with the IBA program

Tremblant.jpgI am eager to learn more about Manitoba-specific issues related to bird habitat protection. I am also excited at the prospect of building dynamic relationships between people and nature to protect Manitoba bird habitat, and actively participate in conservation and educational efforts. One of the best parts of working with birds is that they are so ubiquitous and accessible, and therefore, a great means to get people initiated to wildlife monitoring and its importance!

What are my favourite birds?

My favourite songbird is the Chestnut-collared Longspur. It is not only one of the most vibrant birds in the prairie, but also has a delightful flight-call display where it squeaks along as it flutters up and down.

My favourite shorebird is the Marbled Godwit. Despite being dive-bombed by them on several occasions in the past, I am always pleased to hear their goofy calls!


1Rosa, P., Nguyen, V., & Dubois, F. (2012). Individual differences in sampling behaviour predict social information use in zebra finches. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 66, 1259-1265. DOI: 10.1007/s00265-012-1379-3

2Rosa, P., Swider, C. R., Leston, L., & Koper, N. (2015). Disentangling effects of noise from presence of anthropogenic infrastructure: Design and testing of system for large‐scale playback experiments. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 39, 364-372. DOI: 10.1002/wsb.546.

3Curry, C. M., Antze, B., Warrington, M. H., Des Brisay, P., Rosa, P., & Koper, N. (2017). Ability to alter song in two grassland songbirds exposed to simulated anthropogenic noise is not related to pre-existing variability. Bioacoustics, 1-26. DOI: 10.1080/09524622.2017.1289123.

A quick drive north through Kinosota-Leifur IBA

Kinosota-Leifur IBA is something rare in Manitoba – a readily accessible IBA which appears to be completely ignored by everyone. Much like Sandy Bay Marshes, this IBA is on the western side of Lake Manitoba and probably out of sight and out of mind for the majority of birders from Brandon (who head towards Whitewater and the southwest) and Winnipeg.

The first thing that is apparent with Kinosota-Leifur is the rather unusual map. The map probably needs some adapting, allowing for the fact that the target species does not tend to live and breed in the middle of Lake Manitoba! This target species in question is the beautiful and rare Red-headed Woodpecker. At least 100 have been counted in this area previously, a breeding population of national and global importance.

Red-headed Woodpecker_1598

The stunning Red-headed Woodpecker is found in significant concentrations int he woodlands west of Lake Manitoba. Copyright Christian Artuso

Being early May, it was very unlikely that I would see Red-headed Woodpecker. However, there was plenty of habitat around for this wonderful bird. The favoured habitat is heavily grazed, open woodlots with large amounts of standing deadwood.


Possible Red-headed Woodpecker habitat in the IBA. Copyright Tim Poole

One issue that is of concern is loss of habitat as the woodlots are converted to crop production.


Clearcut woodland in the IBA. This is obviously hopeless habitat for woodpeckers. Copyright Tim Poole

I am considering trying to get a group or two out to the IBA later this summer to blitz for Red-headed Woodpeckers. Driving around I wondered if a group from east of Lake Manitoba could access the IBA from the north via The Narrows and a group from south cover the southern part of the IBA. It would be great to at least start to monitor this undiscovered area.



International Migratory Bird Day – Ruffling Feathers at Oak Hammock Marsh IBA

International Migratory Bird Day on Saturday at Oak Hammock Marsh was probably overshadowed at Oak Hammock Marsh this Saturday by the early morning appearance of a Ruff, a Eurasian shorebird known for its lek dances. Unfortunately the guy who spotted (and photographed for all you naysayers) the bird saw it at 7am. By the time yours truly showed up for the early morning birdwalk, the Ruff had well and truly moved on, and no doubt proved that the ‘early morning’ bird walk was not nearly ‘early morning’ enough!

But International Migratory Bird Day was great for other things. Christian Artuso and I led bird walks for two groups with about 20 or so people. We had a great time seeing nearly 60 species including great views of Dunlin, Baird’s Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper and Greater White-fronted Goose to name just a few.


Early morning bird walk looking at an Eared Grebe. Copyright Tim Poole

The remainder of the day included bird banding, a shorebird workshop and a warbler talk by Christian and I led a cub scout birding trip. The highlight however were the birds.  The shorebird workshop proved especially useful, mainly thanks to some very helpful shorebirds. Here are a couple of lessons from the session using photos taken on the day on the front pond.


Least Sandpiper (back turned) versus White-rumped Sandpiper. note the size difference. The wings also project beyond the tail on the White-rumped which has black legs versus yellow. Copyright Tim Poole


Ok, didn’t quite turn out in this picture, but you can still see the wings on the Least Sandpiper (exiting stage left) do not project beyond the tail as with the White-rumped. Copyright Tim Poole


Stuck behind the vegetation but again look at size difference for Least versus in this case a Dunlin. The black belly mark is also a key id feature. Copyright Tim Poole


Christian has the most comprehensive list (minus the Ruff as he didn’t spot it). Here is his list. All photos copyright Tim Poole

Greater White – fronted Goose – 1

Canada Goose – 300

Trumpeter Swan – 1

Gadwall – 17

American Wigeon – 1

Mallard – 200

Blue – winged Teal – 55

Northern Shoveler – 350

Northern Pintail – 15

Green – winged Teal (American) – 9

Canvasback – 12

Redhead – 8

Ring – necked Duck – 1

Lesser Scaup – 18

Hooded Merganser – 1

Ruddy Duck – 1

Sharp – tailed Grouse – 4

Pied – billed Grebe – 1

Horned Grebe – 1

Western Grebe – 2

Double – crested Cormorant – 8

American White Pelican – 1

Turkey Vulture – 1

Northern Harrier – 2

Red – tailed Hawk – 1

Sora – 1

American Coot (Red – shielded) – 32

American Avocet – 1

Semipalmated Plover – 1


Killdeer – 40

Hudsonian Godwit – 8

Marbled Godwit – 5

Dunlin – 16


Baird’s Sandpiper – 1

Least Sandpiper – 28


White – rumped Sandpiper – 1


As was posted on a Facebook thread, Garry has managed to capture another diagnostic feature of this White-rumped Sandpiper, showing the pink lower mandible (beak). Also note the grey plumage. If this was Baird’s Sandpiper it would be far buffier, especially around the neck

Pectoral Sandpiper – 1

Semipalmated Sandpiper – 3

Short – billed Dowitcher – 18


Short-billed Dowitchers feedling in the front pond. The lack of white tips to the wing feathers (see through a scope) ruled out Long-billed Dowitcher. Copyright Tim Poole

Wilson’s Snipe – 1

Wilson’s Phalarope – 17

Greater Yellowlegs – 1

Willet – 5

Lesser Yellowlegs – 36

Franklin’s Gull – 36

Ring – billed Gull – 2

Forster’s Tern – 6

Mourning Dove – 5

Merlin (Prairie) – 1

Black – billed Magpie – 3

American Crow – 8

Common Raven – 1

Purple Martin – 22

Tree Swallow – 48

Bank Swallow – 10

Barn Swallow – 24

Cliff Swallow – 6

Ruby – crowned Kinglet – 1

American Robin – 5

European Starling – 4

Yellow Warbler – 1

Palm Warbler (Western) – 1

Yellow – rumped Warbler (Myrtle) – 4

Chipping Sparrow – 1

Clay – colored Sparrow – 14

White – crowned Sparrow – 2

Harris’s Sparrow – 1

White – throated Sparrow – 6

Vesper Sparrow – 1

Savannah Sparrow – 17

Song Sparrow – 6

Lincoln’s Sparrow – 2

Swamp Sparrow – 9

Bobolink – 2

Red – winged Blackbird – 200

Western Meadowlark – 24

Yellow – headed Blackbird – 100

Brewer’s Blackbird – 25

Common Grackle – 30

Brown – headed Cowbird – 20


Bird Walk – Jiggin’s Bluff NCC Property, Oak Lake and Plum Lakes IBA, Saturday 20th May, 10am – 12pm

Oak Lake and Plum Lakes has been recognised internationally as one of the world’s most important places for birds and wildlife. Huge concentrations of birds use this area for feeding during migration including globally important numbers of waterfowl. In addition, the diverse habitats host large numbers of threatened grassland birds, woodland birds and wetland birds. On Saturday May 20th, Manitoba Important Bird area Coordinator Tim Poole will lead a bird walk at the NCC property at Jiggin’s Bluff south of Oak Lake. the walk will start at 10am and will finish around 12pm. Bring sturdy walking shoes and boots and any appropriate clothing for the weather plus water and snacks. If you have binoculars then please also bring them along.

Jiggins Bluff can be reached by:

From Souris

  1. From Souris head west on Highway 2, for 30km, Turn North on Highway 254
  2. Continue north for 2.5 miles (4km) (if you reach the creek you went too far!)
  3. Turn West on the Gravel Road and continue into the yardsite

From Oak Lake Resort

  1. From Oak Lake Beach head East and then South on PR 254
  2. Continue South for 8 km
  3. Turn West on the gravel road just after the bridge, and continue into the yardsite

People can park along the road in the yard

Jiggens Bluff map.jpg

Sandy Bay Marshes IBA – A Haven for Western Grebes with the Odd Bear Thrown In

Before Friday of last week, Sandy Bay Marshes was one of those places which was familiar merely as a name and a mark on a map. Last Friday while heading north to a meeting near Winnipegosis (more to follow in another blog on that subject), I stopped off for a while to discover what it was about.

Sandy Bay was designated due to significant breeding concentrations of Western Grebe (see the IBA Canada profile for more info). It is a relatively unknown spot on the western shore of Lake Manitoba south of the Sandy Bay First Nation and near Langruth. Access to much of the marsh interior is difficult due to the road network hence the fact that there is very little information generated from this IBA in the past. Part of the IBA is in the Sandy Bay First Nation Reserve and any access taken by volunteers would need prior approval granted by the Band Council, something I had not sought beforehand, hence I did not stray into the First Nation part of the IBA.


Double-crested Cormorants were fairly abundant around Sandy Bay. Copyright Tim Poole

The surrounding area is primarily tilled agricultural land. However just on the southeastern boundary of the IBA, a few more hayfields and wetlands begin to make an appearance. It was here that I encountered a couple of Marbled Godwit and a number of ducks. The first major stop was at Big Point on the shores of Lake Manitoba. Here I turned up 25 Horned Grebe, Bonaparte’s Gull, pelicans, cormorants and Common Merganser in addition to a number of other gulls, waterfowl and wetland birds.


A Bonaparte’s Gull off of Big Point with an American White Pelican relaxing in the water behind. Closer inspection with a scope revealed large numbers of Western Grebe and Horned Grebe in the water around this gull. Copyright Tim Poole

Already it was apparent that this was a special spot for Western Grebe, 94 counted in the waters of Lake Manitoba – and likely more given that there were certainly a number of distant specks in the wider area.


Panoramic view of Big Point. Copyright Tim Poole

Criss-crossing north, the next stop would be at Stony Point where the only other folk enjoying the sunshine were the RCMP! Before that there was a cracking wetland pool next to the road with 107 Western Grebe. Also present were 2 Eared Grebe. Already it was apparent that if this one pool had upwards of a hundred birds, how many more would be hidden in the inaccessible parts of the marsh?


Unfortunately all the grebes, although plentiful, seemed to avoid getting too close to the road restricting photographic possibilities. This is the best I could manage! Copyright Tim Poole

Finally to the small beach at Stony Point. There were a couple of American Bittern in the adjacent marsh, White-throated Sparrow, Hermit Thrush and juncos in the trees and a huge abundance of Western Grebes bobbing around in the water. In fact there 522 floating around the bay. This is around 0.25% of the global breeding population of this species – not bad for a single point count. There were also 10 Common Merganser and the usual pelicans and cormorants.


There’s probably over a hundred Western Grebes here somewhere. Copyright Tim Poole

Canada Goose 2
Gadwall 4
American Wigeon 2
Mallard 32
Blue-winged Teal 21
Northern Shoveler 2
Canvasback 12
Redhead 29
Greater Scaup 5
Lesser Scaup 4
Greater/Lesser Scaup 53
Bufflehead 3
Common Goldeneye 32
Common Merganser 11
Ruddy Duck 2
Pied-billed Grebe 1
Horned Grebe 25
Eared Grebe 2
Western Grebe 723
Double-crested Cormorant 106
American White Pelican 35
American Bittern 2
Northern Harrier 4
Red-tailed Hawk 3
American Coot 3
Killdeer 4
Marbled Godwit 4
Wilson’s Snipe 1
Willet 1
Bonaparte’s Gull 10
Franklin’s Gull 48
Ring-billed Gull 49
Forster’s Tern 4
Rock Pigeon 4
Mourning Dove 1
Northern Flicker 1
Black-billed Magpie 3
Common Raven 1
Tree Swallow 1
Barn Swallow 1
Hermit Thrush 1
Dark-eyed Junco 10
White-throated Sparrow 1
Savannah Sparrow 3
Song Sparrow 10
Red-winged Blackbird 53
Western Meadowlark 1
Yellow-headed Blackbird 14
Brewer’s Blackbird 69
Common Grackle 20
Brown-headed Cowbird 1

On leaving the IBA, I headed across towards Langruth and Big Grass Marsh, skirting the edge of that IBA. This is another interesting area if only you can get into it, and I plan to find a way to do just that later in the season, so please watch this space. The one thing that did pop up was a Black Bear loitering at the back of a field.


Immediately after checking me out, this bear ran off into the bush. Obviously knows who is boss! Copyright Tim Poole 

The Sandy Bay trip makes me realise that we still need to explore some of these areas more fully. I have attached a copy of may route through the IBA below to help anyone else exploring this area. I wonder if monitoring post breeding populations is possible given that we located over 2000 Western Grebes gathered around Whitewater Lake in early August 2016. Food for thought!


Whitewater Lake IBA – Garry Budyk and John Weier Trip List and Photos

Ahead of the coming IBA blitz at Whitewater Lake, it feels like a good time to remind people just how special this place is for migrating birds, especially those boreal, tundra and High Arctic shorebirds. Garry Budyk and John Weier have been busy and sent in another report, this time from Whitewater Lake IBA. This time they clocked a mere 17 species of shorebirds on May 8th including an impressive 200 Pectoral Sandpipers. Hopefully next weekend, 13 days later on the 21st May, we will have larger numbers and more species as the migration season reaches its peak.

All photos below are taken by, and copyright of Garry Budyk

Snow Goose, 20

Canada Goose, 21

Wood Duck, 1

Gadwall, 54

American Wigeon, 2

Mallard, 125

Blue-winged Teal, 98

Northern Shoveler, 39

Northern Pintail, 45

Green-winged Teal, 19

Canvasback, 26

Redhead, 79

Ring-necked Duck, 2

Lesser Scaup, 25

Bufflehead, 5

Hooded Merganser, 1

Ruddy Duck, 56

Pied-billed Grebe, 2

Eared Grebe, 12

Western Grebe, 50

Double-crested Cormorant, 14

American White Pelican, 83

Great Blue Heron, 1

Great Egret, 24


Cattle Egret, 1


Black-crowned Night-Heron, 4


White-faced Ibis, 16

Turkey Vulture, 1

Osprey, 1

Northern Harrier, 6

Swainson’s Hawk, 1

Red-tailed Hawk, 1

American Coot, 198

American Avocet, 27

Killdeer, 11

Hudsonian Godwit, 3


Marbled Godwit, 5

Dunlin, 7


Baird’s Sandpiper, 17


Least Sandpiper, 6

White-rumped Sandpiper, 3

Pectoral Sandpiper, 200


Semipalmated Sandpiper, 1

Short-billed Dowitcher, 7


Wilson’s Phalarope, 9

Spotted Sandpiper, 2

Solitary Sandpiper, 4


Greater Yellowlegs, 4

Willet, 19

Lesser Yellowlegs, 28

Franklin’s Gull, 840

Ring-billed Gull, 4

Herring Gull, 1

Black Tern, 1

Forster’s Tern, 77

Mourning Dove, 16

American Kestrel, 1

Black-billed Magpie, 2

Common Raven, 1

Horned Lark, 5

Tree Swallow, 1

Bank Swallow, 1

Barn Swallow, 18

Cliff Swallow, 1

Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 2

American Robin, 14

European Starling, 1

American Pipit, 2

Orange-crowned Warbler, 2

Yellow-rumped Warbler, 2

Chipping Sparrow, 10

Clay-colored Sparrow, 26

Lark Sparrow, 1

Dark-eyed Junco, 1

White-crowned Sparrow, 15


Harris’s Sparrow, 43

White-throated Sparrow, 5

Vesper Sparrow, 6

Savannah Sparrow, 27

Song Sparrow, 10

Swamp Sparrow, 1

Red-winged Blackbird, 220

Western Meadowlark, 6

Yellow-headed Blackbird, 507

Brewer’s Blackbird, 33

Common Grackle, 68

Brown-headed Cowbird, 21

House Sparrow, 3

Finally, Garry sent a photo of the current status of the track leading to the viewing mound on the south of the lake. The high spring water levels and incredibly strong winds continue to cause erosion and have pretty much rendered access impossible now – be warned!


Garry Budyk and John Weier Monitoring List from North, West and East Shoal Lakes IBA

Since we are on the subject of posting peoples IBA monitoring reports and photos (see here, here and here), Garry Budyk and John Weier. The highlight for them was probably a Field Sparrow, an occasional visitor to Manitoba, but still a great find in the IBA. Unsurprisingly, they also found good numbers of waterbirds.

Here is the list from across the IBA illustrated by Garry’s fantastic photos:

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) – 126
Gadwall (Anas strepera) – 31
American Wigeon (Anas americana) – 3
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) – 88
Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors) – 58
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata) – 26

NOSH W Shoal Lake
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) – 4
Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca) – 16
Canvasback (Aythya valisineria) – 56
Redhead (Aythya americana) – 24
Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris) – 110
Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis) – 31
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola) – 10
Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) – 4
Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus) – 6
Common Merganser (Mergus merganser) – 10
Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator) – 2

RBME N Shoal Lake
Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis) – 9
Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) – 2
Common Loon (Gavia immer) – 1
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps) – 12
Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena) – 6
Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis) – 66
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) – 180
American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) – 213
American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus) – 1
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) – 18
Great Egret (Ardea alba) – 10
Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) – 1

BCNH East Shoal Lake
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) – 2
Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus) – 6
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) – 7
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) – 1
American Coot (Fulica americana) – 44
Sandhill Crane (Antigone canadensis) – 8
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) – 16
Marbled Godwit (Limosa fedoa) – 4
Wilson’s Snipe (Gallinago delicata) – 22

WISN W Shoal Lake
Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca) – 7
Willet (Tringa semipalmata) – 4

Willet W Shoal Lake
Franklin’s Gull (Leucophaeus pipixcan) – 59
Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) – 35

RBGU W Shoal Lake
Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia) – 1
Forster’s Tern (Sterna forsteri) – 3
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) – 2
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius) – 4
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) – 2
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) – 7
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) – 6
Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) – 1
Black-billed Magpie (Pica hudsonia) – 3
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) – 10
Common Raven (Corvus corax) – 25
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) – 20

TRSW W Shoal Lake
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) – 4
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) – 2
Marsh Wren (Cistothorus palustris) – 5
Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus) – 1
American Robin (Turdus migratorius) – 8
American Tree Sparrow (Spizelloides arborea) – 3
Field Sparrow (Spizella pusilla) – 1
Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis) – 19
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) – 61
Swamp Sparrow (Melospiza georgiana) – 10
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) – 188
Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta) – 5
Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus) – 35

YHBL N Shoal Lake
Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula) – 58

In addition, John and Garry picked up this porcupine:


Passing through a couple of days later along East Shoal Lake, I also managed to catch this beaver in a small ephemeral wetland:


Beaver alongside East Shoal Lake. Copyright Tim Poole

Thanks to Garry for providing this information. We would be delighted to post others trip lists, stories and photos on the blog as well.

Mega Numbers of Waterfowl at the Saskatchewan River Delta IBA

Catching up on a few things here and one of them is some of the large numbers of birds being counted at the Saskatchewan River Delta IBA around The Pas. Local volunteer Joel Kayer has been counting birds in this IBA since 2015 and birding the area, whether as an Atlasser or merely for the fun of it, a lot longer. This year he submitted some terrific numbers which I thought would be worth sharing. Please note, the numbers listed are just the large numbers of birds, not all birds Joel encountered.

9th May 2017

3757 Canada Goose

23,285 Mallard

2570 Northern Pintail

827 Ring-billed Gull

Northern Pintail_2957.jpg

Northern Pintails are abundant in the Carrot Valley during spring migration. Photo copyright Christian Artuso

22nd April 2017

915 Canada Goose

912 Tundra Swan

11,599 Mallard

752 Sandhill Crane

1609 Ring-billed Gull

953 Snow Bunting


Sandhill Crane in flight. Photo copyright Tim Poole

April 30th 2016 (Tundra Swan only survey)

9,216 Tundra Swan


Imagine seeing over 9,000 of these Tundra Swans in a single day on migration? Copyright Christian Artuso

The latter figure is certainly a significant concentration of this species not only in North America but globally. The area around The Pas is known for its incredible wetland habitats and large concentrations of migratory waterfowl. Thanks to Joel for highlighting this for all those of us living in southern Manitoba!

Some Images from Whitewater Lake IBA

Gillian Richards recently forwarded some images from spring at Whitewater Lake. On April 2nd Colin Blyth and Gillian counted 41,820 Snow Geese at the lake, a phenomenal number! We also have images of White-faced Ibis, Golden-crowned Kinglet, American Tree Sparrow, American Kestrel, Great Egret and Beavers. Thanks Gillian!

All photos copyright Gillian Richards

Nature Manitoba Trip to Delta Marsh IBA and West Shoal Lake IBA

Rudolf Koes led a Nature Manitoba trip to Delta Marsh and West Shoal Lake, both IBAs on Saturday April 22nd. Garry Budyk has kindly let us post the results and a few of his photos form the day. What is really interesting is how many more birds were present in the IBA due to the new boundaries. This is especially true of the PR227 dump, a hotspot for gull activity and now part of Delta Marsh IBA. Other checklists submitted within Delta Marsh IBA which were not previously in the boundary were at PR #411, St. Ambroise (hamlet), St. Marks, PR #227 and Oakland. Take a look below at the photos and the checklists submitted by Garry to eBird.

Also look out for photos of a funky hybrid gull and a couple of rare visitors to Manitoba in spring.

West Shoal Lake


Great Egret in full breeding regalia at West Shoal Lake taken by Garry Budyk

Species Name Apr 22
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) 9
Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) 3
Tundra Swan (Cygnus columbianus) 4
Gadwall (Anas strepera) 2
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) 14
Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors) 10
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata) 5
Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca) 12
Canvasback (Aythya valisineria) 46
Redhead (Aythya americana) 54
Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris) 35
Greater Scaup (Aythya marila) 3
Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis) 65
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola) 32
Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) 12
Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus) 30
Common Merganser (Mergus merganser) 8
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) 10
American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) 32
American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus) 1
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) 5
Great Egret (Ardea alba) 2
Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus) 3
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) 4
Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus) 1
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) 2
Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca) 5
Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) 1
Bonaparte’s Gull (Chroicocephalus philadelphia) 3
Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) 20
Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) 2
Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) 1
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) 1
Merlin (Falco columbarius) 1
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) 1
Common Raven (Corvus corax) 5
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula) 1
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata) 14
American Tree Sparrow (Spizelloides arborea) 1
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) 3
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) 180
Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta) 5
Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus) 1

Delta Marsh IBA


A beautiful immature dark morph Rough-legged Hawk taken by Garry Budyk

Species Name Apr 22
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) 70
Gadwall (Anas strepera) 14
American Wigeon (Anas americana) 69
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) 113
Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors) 24
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata) 19
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) 236
Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca) 160
Canvasback (Aythya valisineria) 10
Redhead (Aythya americana) 57
Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis) 50
Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) 12
Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus) 8
Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator) 1
Sharp-tailed Grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus) 1
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps) 1
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) 885
American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) 1
Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus) 13
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) 6
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) 1
Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus) 9
American Coot (Fulica americana) 15
American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana) 1
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) 6
Marbled Godwit (Limosa fedoa) 3
Wilson’s Snipe (Gallinago delicata) 4
Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca) 22
Franklin’s Gull (Leucophaeus pipixcan) 183
Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) 2,002
Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) 527
Herring x Glaucous Gull (hybrid) (Larus argentatus x hyperboreus) 1
Rock Pigeon (Columba livia) 13
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) 2
Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) 1
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius) 2
Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus) 1
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) 14
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) 7
Merlin (Falco columbarius) 1
Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) 3
Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) 1
Black-billed Magpie (Pica hudsonia) 1
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) 2
Common Raven (Corvus corax) 12
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula) 1
Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) 2
Townsend’s Solitaire (Myadestes townsendi) 1
Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus) 1
American Robin (Turdus migratorius) 38
Varied Thrush (Ixoreus naevius) 1
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) 43
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata) 28
American Tree Sparrow (Spizelloides arborea) 5
Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca) 4
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis) 8
Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis) 1
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) 4
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) 172
Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta) 19
Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus) 1
Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus) 3
Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula) 43

Now for the rare and unusual records for the day. First the rarities. The first is a Varied Thrush. This is a species which breeds in dense conifer forest of the Pacific northwest but is an occasional winter visitor to Manitoba.


Female Varied Thrush spotted near Delta Beach. Taken by Garry Budyk

Another annual winter visitor to Manitoba is the Townsend’s Solitaire. This species also breeds in the conifer forests of the Pacific northwest.


This Townsend’s Solitaire was spotted along PR411. Taken by Garry Budyk

Finally, gulls are seemingly one of the most regular source of at least noticeable hybridisation in bird populations. On this occasion at the PR227 dump a hybrid Glaucous and Herring Gull, also known as a Nelson’s Gull. Due to the unusual plumage Rudolf sent Garry’s photo to gull expert Amar Ayyash who gave the following reponse:

“… keep in mind that most hybrid identifications usually involve a good deal of guessing (educated guessing). Birds like this, with very pale gray upperparts are always suspected of having Glaucous influence. What gray-backed hybrid combinations are “expected” with Glaucous? Herring or Glaucous-winged. The pale eye suggests another pale-eyed species is involved, and the yellowish eye-ring helps point to Herring. Notice the outer primaries have a diluted dark gray pattern (like Kumlien’s Gull), something we often see in Glaucous x Herrings.”

Hybrid gull

Compare the Herring Gull on the left with the hybrid Glaucous x Herring Gull on the right. Taken by Garry Budyk

Thanks Garry for the list and the photos!