Community Grassland Bird Walk

Over the weekend, Amanda and I traveled to the southwest to visit the Southwestern Mixed Grass Prairie IBA. While there, we held two events, a bird walk through the Gerald W. Malaher Wildlife Management Area, and an early morning grassland bird blitz the next day. It was a scorcher in the Banana Belt that weekend but we still managed to see some really interesting birds, many of which can only be found in that part of the province!

Dragonflies. Photo by Ariel Desrochers.

The weekend began for us with the long drive down on Friday from Winnipeg to Melita. We spent the afternoon scoping out the Gerald W. Malaher Wildlife Management Area (WMA), the site of our bird walk the next day, while discussing birds we might see that weekend. We were particularly interested in the grassland birds. We were excited to hear a Loggerhead Shrike, but did not see it. We retired for the evening to a local farmhouse with a ton of character, exhausted from the drive.

Saturday morning we made our way back to the WMA for our event. We were a small group that morning, and the wind was strong, but luckily the WMA is partially grassland and partially forested habitat, so we had some protection! We were lucky enough to have participants who were knowledgeable in butterflies and plants so the walk ended up being a morning full of learning about all things nature. Our first observation was Yellow Warblers, whose call of “sweet, sweet, I’m so sweet” we described to the group and using our guidebook to show their lovely yellow coloring. As we followed the shorter loop of the WMA, we saw variety of birds including Mourning Doves, Redheads, Cedar Waxwings and more. We were delighted to see Monarch Butterflies, and were surrounded by what must have been thousands of Dragonflies, leaving mosquitos nowhere to be found. At the end of our walk we heard a Ring-neck Pheasant call. The pheasant is a game bird introduced into the southwest from Asia. One of our participants, Daniel, informed us that he often found them in ditches near the WMA. After the walk had finished myself, Amanda and Sandy hurried off to try and find it. We had a brief moment of possible success – turns out it was a “piece of metal on a fence” bird. The rare cousin of the “leaf bird” and the “garbage bird” that like to play tricks on birders. We ended up unsuccessful.

Cedar Waxwings. Photo by Ariel Desrochers.
Monarch Butterfly. Photo by Ariel Desrochers.

Thank you again to the group who joined us for our bird walk! We identified 15 different species of birds, and 57 individuals. The full lists of birds identified during the walk can be found below.

Blue-winged Teal1
Redhead 2
Ring-necked Pheasant1
Mourning Dove4
American White Pelican 7
Least Flycatcher 3
Eastern Kingbird3
Loggerhead Shrike1
House Wren 5
Cedar Waxwing14
Clay-colored Sparrow3
Red-winged Blackbird4
Brown-headed Cowbird2
Common Yellowthroat 1
Yellow Warbler 6

-Ariel Desrocher