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.

Eastern Whip-poor-will_Artuso

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.