As we end off 2019 here is a quick overview of COSEWIC status changes for two birds that we see in our Manitoba Important Bird Areas.
COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada) is an independent advisory panel that provides information to the Minister of Environment and Climate change in Canada. They are responsible for identifying and assessing the conservation status of wildlife species in Canada.
This large shorebird was assessed by COSEWIC in May 2019 as “Threatened”. Previously it had no status under COSEWIC, and currently has no status under SARA Schedule 1. While populations on the breeding grounds are not well monitored, the monitoring on migration and the nonbreeding grounds indicate substantial recent population declines.
Hudsonian Godwit. Copyright by Christian Artuso.
The Hudsonian Godwit breeds in the arctic, with its Manitoba range near Churchill. It is a long-distance migrant that travels to the southern third of South America. Northern Manitoba residents may see the Hudsonian Godwit during migration and breeding seasons in northern IBAs such as Nelson River Estuary and Marsh Point IBA and Kaskattama River Mouth IBA. Those of us in southern Manitoba can see the Hudsonian Godwit in our IBAs in Manitoba as they pass through in the spring and fall on migration.
Threats to the Hudsonian Godwit identified by the COSEWIC committee on the breeding ground include a decrease in suitability for nesting and prey availability due to climate change and an over abundance of geese. Threats at the nonbreeding grounds include loss of habitat and disturbance in South America.
In 2019 Hudsonian Godwits were seen at IBA events in both the spring and autumn at Whitewater Lake IBA. If you are interested in seeing Hudsonian Godwits and other shorebirds in 2020 be sure to stay on the lookout for our Shorebird Blitzes and/or International Shorebird Survey opportunities.
Just last month (November 2019) the Chestnut-collard Longspur was reassessed from Threatened to Endangered by COSEWIC. It is still listed as Threatened under SARA Schedule 1. There has been a long-term decline of 95% of Chestnut-collared Longspurs since the 1970s. COSEWIC also lists a range contraction of the Chestnut-collared Longspur to the south and west. This fits with what we have seen in Manitoba where these birds can be seen in the southwestern corner of the province, when previously they were recorded near to Winnipeg and even at Oak Hammock Marsh according to The Birds of Manitoba.
Chestnut-collared Longspur. Copyright by Christian Artuso.
In Manitoba this flashy grassland bird breeds in the southwestern corner of the province. It requires large continuous parcels of grassland for breeding. The Chestnut-collared Longspur’s nonbreeding range extends throughout the southwestern United States and into northern Mexico.
The main threat identified by COSEWIC for the Chestnut-collared Longspur is habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation. This is impacting the Longspur in both its breeding ground in Canada, as well as its nonbreeding range in northern Mexico.
Both the Southwestern Mixed-grass Prairie IBA and the Ellis-Archie and Spy Hill Community Pastures IBA have held continentally important occurrences of the Chestnut-collared Longspur in recent summers.