A Quick Run Through of A Long, Hectic, and Really Fun Year!

The year is almost ended, there is little time remaining, and everyone is doing their year in review. Here are some of the highlights from our year at Manitoba IBA:

A New Workparty

We tried something new, and decided to start picking up garbage, mainly discarded angling material from St Ambroise Beach. We collected quite the pile.

Shoreline cleanup-Lake Manitoba-MB-000-LARGE-CROP-SMALL-Lynnea A Parker-1110625

Exhausted, but what a collection. Copyright Lynnea Parker

Back to the bar

We managed two more weed pulls at Sandy Bar in 2018. The first, in August attracted quite the crowd.

Weed Pull-Riverton Sandy Bar IBA-MB-000-SMALL-Lynnea A Parker-1110879

A good crowd for a morning of clearing the bar. Copyright Lynnea Parker

The second pull had a smaller crowd, the wind and cold were horrific, but then again, who cares when you can see Red Knots on the tip!

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Red Knot juvenile. Copyright Christian Artuso

IBA Blitzes

We had a fair few blitz events this year. A visit to Kinosota-Leifur scored over 50 Red-headed Woodpecker (it was World Cup final day after all), visits to North, West and East Shoal Lakes turned out some great numbers of Western Grebes and other waterbirds (spring blitz report here), a trip to Delta Marsh provided a really high species count, Oak Hammock gave us some lovely views of shorebirds on the front pond, and Oak Lake and Plum Lakes provided good counts of Franklin’s Gull, and grassland birds.

Sabina part of Amanda Tim Jock beach near Twin Lakes

Counting shorebirds on Twin Lake Beach in the Delta Marsh IBA. Copyright Randy Mooi

We also had a few great volunteer trip reports. Glennis provided one on a trip to Oak Lake, with Tundra Swans being very prominent. A few days earlier, Katharine did likewise in the same IBA. Photos can also tell a story, and Garry, John and John had quite the find at Delta Marsh in the fall. Not reported previously, but we also know of a Bonaparte Gull trigger in the same IBA in October. Top stuff!


Thousands of gulls at Delta Marsh IBA. Copyright Garry Budyk

Grassland Birds

We continue to work on grassland bird conservation. This year saw even more landowner surveys delivered in the southwest corner. We plan to publish a report in the New Year, summarising the monitoring results, but in the meantime, Lynnea gave a nice overview of her time out in the prairies. We also delivered a workshop in an indigenous community in this area of the prairies, and three workshops in local schools in Reston, Oak Lake and Pierson.


Chestnut-collared Longspur in southwestern Manitoba. Copyright Lynnea Parker

It’s not grim ‘oop north

As part of our northern outreach, Bonnie Chartier returned to Churchill and had some great success taking local members of the community to see some of the special birds of her home area. She was also, thanks to the generosity of Churchill Wild, able to spend a day at the Seal River IBA. Churchill Wild have been extremely generous in fact to the program in the past two years, and we would like to extend our thanks to Mike, Jeanne and the rest of their team for all their help.

Our Coordinator, Tim Poole also got to spend a night on an island on the Nelson River with members of Fox Lake Cree Nation.

Fox Lake Cree Nation - IBA trip

A near miss! Track of the trip along the Nelson River

Sandy Bay Marshes IBA

We did get out for a cold Grebe Watch in May. We have also given a couple of school IBA workshops in the area.

Sandy Bay IBA Blitz-Langruth-Manitoba-000-LARGE-Lynnea A Parker2-1080645

A cold morning out at Sandy Bay for our intrepid grebe watchers. Copyright Lynnea Parker


It’s been quite the year, with pilot routes of ISS route being delivered at Whitewater and Oak Lake. There are multiple reports on our website, but take a look here for a sample.


Whitewater Lake shorebirds. Copyright Tim Poole

There will be many things missed, but all in all, it has been another exceptionally busy year for the program. Thank you to every volunteer and partner who has helped make 2018 a success, and we look forward to working with you in our special IBAs in 2019!

Manitoba IBA News Bites

We were interested to hear the recent updates from the IUCN Red List and Birdlife International. Two of Manitoba’s most well-known species have been listed as Near Threatened. Under IUCN criteria, Near Threatened is the equivalent of Special Concern in Canada. This means that the declines in populations and range are significant, but not considered so significant that they warrant full endangered status.

The first of these species was no surprise, given the Eastern Whip-poor-will is a species which has been listed as Threatened under the Species At Risk Act in Canada for a few years. As an aerial insectivore, it is perhaps no surprise that it’s status has followed that of numerous other birds of this group. Loss of habitat is also thought to be a major contributory factor.

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Eastern Whip-poor-will, cryptic, handsome, yet highly threatened. Copyright Christian Artuso

The second species to be listed was, quite frankly jaw-dropping, and extremely concerning. Common Grackles, birds considered by some, but not all, to be agricultural pests, and therefore a species which has been persecuted, have declined enough to be considered as globally Near Threatened. Just think about it – Common Grackles, of all species now require a global listing. That’s incredible! The figures used to come to this conclusion suggest a 50% decline between 1970 and 2014.

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Much maligned, but needing some love, the Common Grackle. Copyright Christian Artuso

In better news, one of our favourite IBA birds, the Red-headed Woodpecker has lost its global Near Threatened status, and is now merely Least Concern. This is tremendous news, but we have a caveat. In April 2018, COSEWIC, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, voted to upgrade the species to Endangered in Canada. The mismatch seems odd, but presumably the species is doing much better in USA than Canada.


Juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker in the North, West and East Shoal Lakes IBA. Copyright Garry Budyk

In other news, the IBA Canada website has just updated the Manitoba IBA profiles. This includes up-to-date information on the bird populations, some updates to the conservation status, and description of the area.

Of particular note are the following:

You can find Manitoba’s IBAs and read more about them by clicking on this link. If you find any mistakes in the accounts, please let us know, and we will ask our partners at BSC to edit them.

For those in a birdy nerdy mood, the Manitoba Breeding Bird Atlas, an absolutely stunning success, has now published the full accounts of every species on its website, in English and French. Take a look at the American White Pelican account for some very updated information about the total pelicans counted by Environment and Climate Change Canada at the North, West and East Shoal Lake IBA and the Dog Lake IBA in 2017 (click here).

Finally, we were saddened to hear a few months ago of the passing of Manitoba IBA volunteer, Dave Mayor. Dave, with his wife Pat, were regular attendees at many of our events, and he will be sorely missed. You can read more about Dave’s life here.