A Summary of Summer IBA Magic

2018 was an eventful summer for the Manitoba IBA program, which had a full itinerary of events which included numerous bird-blitz at different IBAs, workshops, community outreach events, habitat restoration, and attendance at summer fairs. This summer’s success was driven by a huge turnout of volunteers who dedicated their time (and gas money!) to helping monitor bird diversity and abundance across the province. It is obvious that the Manitoba IBA program is growing, and we wish to thank our generous financial donors and everyone who participated in events this summer. We are already looking forward to spring of 2019!

To really appreciate how much was accomplished this year, we have put together a detailed timeline of our events below:

May 5thWe headed out to Sandy Bay IBA near Langruth to engage the local community in bird watching and monitoring. We were expecting to find high counts of Western Grebes along the shoreline, but a late spring and ice cover foiled our expectations.

Read more here.

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Grebewatch attendees. Copyright Lynnea Parker

May 6thKicking off events early, the IBA program brought a multitude of volunteers out to North, West, and East Shoal Lakes IBA to survey for Western Grebes and other waterbirds. It was a brisk morning with ice still on the lake, but that didn’t stop anyone from counting a total of 766 Western Grebes!

Read more here

May 12thWe joined Oak Hammock Marsh in celebrating International Migratory Bird Day. Morning events took place at Oak Hammock Marsh with presentations by Christian Artuso and bird walk hosted by Tim, Lynnea, Paula, and Christian.


Read more here

May 23rd and 24thNature Conservancy of Canada, Manomet Shorebird Recovery Program, and the Manitoba IBA program organized and hosted an International Shorebird workshop in southwestern Manitoba. It was a fantastic workshop which laid down the groundwork for initiating ISS surveys here in Manitoba. Never heard of ISS before? Read about it here for more details.

Read more here

June – IBA intern Lynnea Parker accounts her adventures in the southwest surveying for grassland birds and species at risk. These survey efforts were apart of the SARPAL program, which is now in its second year.

Read more here

June 3rdThe breeding season kicked off with an Oak Lake and Plum Lakes IBA Blitz. The day was full of great sighting and high counts of birds. Some noteworthy mentions include Cattle Egret, Upland Sandpiper, Red-headed Woodpecker, Loggerhead Shrike, Mountain Bluebird, Sprague’s Pipit, and Chestnut-collared Longspur. Read all about this successful start to the summer.

Read more here

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Loggerhead Shrike near Oak Lake. Copyright Katharine Schulz

June 9thThe program joined forces with the Nature Conservancy of Canada to look for species at risk on their properties near East Shoal Lake.

July 11thManitoba’s brand new Clear Your Gear program was supported by the Manitoba IBA program. We hosted a shoreline cleanup event at St. Ambroise Beach Provincial Park. Volunteers and event coordinators were equally surprised by the sheer quantity of commercial gill nets which were removed from 3km of shoreline (blog post Read more here

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That is a lot of junk! Copyright Lynnea Parker

July 15thThe IBA program hosted its first ever species-specific blitz, which was for Red-headed Woodpeckers. This event took place at the Kinosota-Leifur IBA which great success. 51 individuals were found, and 34 breeding pairs were confirmed.

Read more here

July 26thChristian, Rebekah, Josh, and Ward conducted the first ever official International Shorebird Survey (ISS) in Manitoba at Oak Lake and Plum Lakes IBA! The survey revealed how important water levels are for shorebird habitat. Only 12 species of shorebirds were detected, with Lesser Yellowlegs, Killdeer, and Wilson’s Phalarope the most abundant.

Read more here

July 29thChristian, Colin, Gillian, and Tim conducted the first ever Whitewater Lake ISS survey. 21 species of shorebirds were detected. Special highlights included 1,440 Long-billed Dowitcher and 418 American Avocet. Continue reading about this great kickoff to the fall ISS season.

Read more here

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Shorebirds flocks. Copyright Christian Artuso

August 12thThe Delta Marsh IBA Blitz took place bright and early to beat the heat with a daytime high of 36 degrees Celsius. 5 groups covered the entire IBA area finding a total of 156 species and 19 shorebird species. Although a whopping 19,564 individual birds were counted, shorebirds were few and far between. The Least Sandpiper with 388 individuals was the most abundant shorebird species. Checkout what happened at Delta Marsh.

Read more here

August 15th and 16th – Tim Poole flew to Gillam in northern Manitoba to introduce the IBA program to Fox Lake Cree Nation. The IBA program is excited to have the opportunity to work with the Fox Lake Cree Nation in establishing a monitoring program for the remote Nelson River Estuary and Marshy Point IBA.

August 16thThe annual Weed Pull for Plovers event took place with Joanne Smith (Sandy Bar IBA Caretaker). 24 volunteers turned out for this event and significant progress was made restoring habitat for shorebirds and waterbirds.

Read more here

August 22ndTim and Lynnea conducted the 2nd fall season International Shorebird Survey (ISS) at Whitewater Lake. While most of the areas surveyed had low counts of shorebird, one particular spot along the route was a sight to behold – 6,000 to 8,000 thousand shorebirds of different species were found flocking together!

Read more here

August 26th 20 volunteers comprising 6 groups surveyed North, West and East Shoal Lakes IBA and surrounding areas. Although bird activity was in its seasonal decline, this IBA did not disappoint with 152 species and 7,868 individuals! 25 Red-headed Woodpeckers were found and 15 different species of shorebirds.

Read more here.

With so many events already concluded, let’s not forget about these upcoming opportunities to engage with bird conservation before the 2018 season ends.

September 21 – Riverton Sandy Bar Weed Pull Event (ROUND 2)

Please join the IBA program one more time this year to improve shorebird and waterbird habitat at the Sandy Bar IBA. Drinks and snacks will be provided at 8:30am and the group will depart for the sand bar with weed-whacking supplies at 9:00am. Expected end time is 12:30pm.

October 14 –Swans and Cranes… Oh My!

Oh my indeed! Come join us in southwestern Manitoba to help find, count, and record the anticipated arrival of hundreds (if not thousands!) of swans, geese, ducks, and cranes. The large gatherings of these congregational birds is a sight to behold every fall in Manitoba. We will need all the help we can get.

If you don’t believe us, check out this blog post: Blast from the past: Historical observations and fall birding in southern Manitoba (check it out here).