Welcome to our 2021 Summer Assistants!

Bird representation of Amanda and summer students touching down for the field season!

This year we have two summer assistants joining our program. Ariel will be focusing on work with Species at Risk and Vicky will be helping with a variety of IBA activities. While we are sad to say that we have been quiet on the public programming side, we have been busy behind the scenes! Read on for a hello from both of our summer assistants…

Hi Everyone! 

My Name is Ariel and I am the newest employee at IBA for the summer of 2021! I am currently a student at the University of Winnipeg, working towards my bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies with a focus on issues in sustainability.

After developing a deep interest in the environment and animals during my childhood, I knew that I wanted to bring that love into my future career and do my part. In the past, I have volunteered with the Green Action Centre and worked a variety of jobs, from barista to greenhouse technician. After a few years of casually watching birds, I decided to take it more seriously, and after seeing a group of Cedar Waxwings out in Bird Lake, my interest in birding exploded! That’s why I am so excited to be working with the IBA team this summer and I am looking forward to hopefully spotting my first Whip-poor-will!

Hello everyone! My name is Vicky Tang, and I am happy to be a part of the team as a Program Assistant this summer.

I am currently finishing my 3rd year at the University of Manitoba. I am working towards a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences, with focus on environmental and integrative physiology. I am also minoring in Entomology, so leave the creepy critters to me! This will be my first year working with a conservation focused employment and I hope to continue this trend! Starting with IBA, I am looking forward to learning about Manitoba’s native species and developing my competence towards conservational efforts.

I have been passionate about nature since childhood. I love the sounds I can hear being in the forest, and what makes up most of the sounds are birds. So, I am excited to be monitoring birds and participating in field trips to learn more about them in hopes to provide good care to our native bird species.

We are excited to have Vicky and Ariel on board!

On the Lookout for Shorebirds at the Shorebird Scrape

This spring the Manitoba IBA program at staff at the Harry J. Enns Wetland Discovery Centre put out a trail camera at the Oak Hammock Marsh shorebird scrape. The scrape was constructed last year to create additional habitat for shorebirds in the marsh. It is the first time (to our knowledge) that a scrape has been constructed in Manitoba for shorebird habitat. A scrape is a shallow depression made in the ground of wet habitat (in our case attached to a pond) that is seasonally filled with water. The scrape slowly dries out and provides the shallow water and shoreline habitat favoured by shorebirds and many other bird species as well. As this is very much a trial, we wanted to have a set of “eyes” out on the scrape often – so we added a trail camera!

While the trail camera gives us a good idea of how often shorebirds are at the scrape – nothing beats a pair of eyes and binoculars (or a spotting scope). So, if you are birding at the marsh, a stop by the scrape and an eBird checklist shared with Manitoba IBA is appreciated! You will see from some of our images below that due to the limitations of putting the camera out in the marsh mud, the distance the shorebirds are often at, and the resolution of the trail camera, determining species is difficult. I have tried to identify the shorebirds in the photos below, but if you can make out a species I cannot – I am happy to hear from you!

Our first photos with the trail camera were taken April 22. Our late April photos largely consisted of Canada Geese. We also had some nice sunset/ sunrise photos and various duck species.

A chilly morning on April 24th with Redheads and Canada Geese out on the pond and scrape (scrape on the back left side of the photo).

On April 26th we moved the camera to a new spot to get a better view of the scrape. This is when we saw our first shorebird at the scrape – a Marbled Godwit.

Two Marbled Godwits enjoying the scrape on April 26th. They stuck around for about 40 minutes that day according to the camera.

The Marbled Godwit was our most consistent species at the scrape showing up on April 26-27, April 29-May 1, and May 4-10.

The nice cinnamon colour of the Marbled Godwit’s wing is seen as it does a big stretch in the corner of the camera on May 5th.

Other species spotted include American Avocet on May 10-11, Killdeer on May 1 and May 8 and Yellowlegs (species unknown) on May 9-11.

Avocet on a chilly morning at the scrape on May 11.
Two Killdeer scoping out the scrape in May 8.
Two Yellowlegs at the scrape on May 11.

Some other notable non-shorebird sightings from the trail camera include swans (unsure if Trumpeter or Tundra), a gosling, a crow flyby and some lovely sunset/sunrise photos of the scrape. Who says wetlands can’t be beautiful!

Lift off on on the evening of May 4th!
A gosling is in the bottom right corner of the photo. Don’t worry, the parents were around in a previous photo! The first goslings were reported at the marsh on April 30.
A still sunset on the scrape.

These photos were from relative early on in shorebird migration, photos during the peak time are still to come. We access the camera periodically to change the SD cards and batteries so stay tuned to see what comes off the camera next!

We are Hiring (again)!

Manitoba IBA recently received funding through the province of Manitoba’s Green Team program to hire a Summer Assistant. We are excited to have another member of our summer staff come on board. See below for application information. A .pdf of this job posting is available upon request at iba@naturemanitoba.ca.

Manitoba Important Bird Areas Summer Assistant

The Manitoba Important Bird Area (IBA) Program is hiring a Summer Assistant. This position is based out of Winnipeg and includes travel to various IBAs in southern Manitoba. The position is a 460-hour full-time contract at $13/hr – start date late May/ early June 2021.

For more information on the Manitoba IBA program, visit: http://importantbirdareasmb.ca.

Responsibilities

Working closely with the IBA Coordinator, the responsibilities of the Program Assistant are to:

  • monitor the endangered Chimney Swift in urban areas of Manitoba, especially Winnipeg;
  • monitor populations of threatened birds in Manitoba’s IBAs;
  • assist with species at risk monitoring blitzes in Manitoba’s IBAs;
  • assist with organising events and activities for the Manitoba IBA Program;
  • provide outreach to landowners with the federally threatened bird species;
  • research and develop educational materials for landowners and the general public to promote Manitoba’s IBAs;
  • represent the IBA Program at meetings, local events and festivals in southern and central Manitoba;
  • data entry;
  • assist with Manitoba IBA blog site and social media set-up;
  • assist with volunteer and partner communications via email and phone;
  • other duties as assigned.

Qualifications

The successful applicant will have:

  • A minimum of 2 years of post-secondary education in biology, conservation or environmental science degree / diploma program
  • Knowledge of and demonstrated interest in the natural history of Manitoba
  • A keen interest in, knowledge of and ability to identify birds in Manitoba
  • Previous experience in environmental education and outreach is a strong asset
  • Experience with & knowledge of WordPress, Facebook and the Microsoft Office suite
  • Exceptional written and interpersonal communication skills
  • Strong organizational skills and attention to detail
  • Ability to work well as a team and independently

Interested in applying?

Applicants must meet the following criteria to be eligible for the position:

  • youth aged 15 to 29,
  • living in Manitoba, and
  • legally entitled to work in Canada.

How to Apply:

Interested applicants should forward their resume and short 1 page cover letter as 1 PDF file by email to the IBA Coordinator at iba@naturemanitoba.ca (Subject line: IBA Summer Assistant) by Friday, May 14th, 2021. Applications will be reviewed as they are submitted.

Only those candidates selected for an interview will be contacted.

Earth Day is for the Birds!

Celebrate Earth Day this year by becoming more bird friendly! We know that bird populations are declining across Canada and globally, with some groups of birds declining more strongly than others. As individuals it is easy to feel overwhelmed – what can we do? Below are some concrete actions you can take starting on Earth Day and continuing year-round.


Window Collision Prevention

Window collisions are one of the leading causes of bird deaths in Canada. When people think of window collisions they often think of high-rise buildings, but actually by the numbers more birds collide with residential buildings – likely because there are more of them on the landscape. There are multiple products you can buy local or make yourself to reduce the impact of your windows.

Window cling from Charlotte’s Birdseed. Photo provided by Laura Meuckon.

Charlotte’s Birdseed is a Winnipeg-based small business that has partnered with Nature Manitoba to donate $2 from each window cling sold to bird conservation. This beautiful window cling plays double duty by breaking up the reflection of the outdoors in your window, as well as displaying a lovely piece of local art. You can find them at charlottesbirdseed.com/. When using window clings find one that is the right size for your window – ideally you want to have gaps of less than 5 cm or 2” around the clings.

For DIY solutions try strings or ribbons on the outside of your window, tempera paint or soap! If you have a bird feeder or bath in your yard placing it as close as possible to a window (0.5 m or less) can reduce window collision injuries as the short distance to the window means that a bird cannot gather as much momentum when hitting a window from the feeder. For more information on prevention of window collisions including commercial and DIY products see FLAP Canada.

Photo of my DIY Bird Saver. Instructions available from www.birdsavers.com/make-your-own/. It only took me a couple of hours and about $20 in supplies for three large windows. Photo by Amanda Shave.

Keep Cats and Birds Safe

Cats are the number one cause of bird death according to a study published in 2013 (A Synthesis of Human-related Avian Mortality in Canada). This includes both feral and domestic cats – which may hunt birds whether they are hungry or not. The best way to keep birds safe from cats (and cats safe as well) is keep cats from free-roaming outside. Perhaps the purrrfect project this spring is to build a catio (cat patio)! Catios allow cats to enjoy the outdoors without having a negative impact on nature, and keeping cats safe from dangers such as traffic. Check out this article from B.C.’s SPCA to learn about some of the key considerations in building your own catio and some build guides that fit the space you have: https://spca.bc.ca/news/how-to-build-a-catio/

Example of a catio. Photo from BC SPCA.

Spread the Word about Bird Habitats

An easy way to make an impact is to spread the word about the importance of habitat for birds. For many species a key reason for population decline is a loss of habitat. This habitat is different for each species but overall conservation of habitat is key and each habitat type has different drivers of decline.

Freshwater habitat – Freshwater habitat includes everything from temporary ponds formed by spring meltwater to the huge Lake Winnipeg. Common threats to freshwater habitat include climate change, pollution, invasive species, land use changes and drainage. To find out more about the ways in which freshwater habitat is key for bird species see our Freshwater Habitat Factsheet. Or visit our newly created Shorebird Scrape at Oak Hammock Marsh to see freshwater habitat conservation in action!  

A snowy shorebird scrape at Oak Hammock Marsh several weeks ago, it sure looks different now! I saw a Killdeer using the scrape last week. Photo by Amanda Shave.

Grassland habitat – Manitoba contains both tall-grass, and mixed-grass prairie habitat. Prairie habitat is key for birds that are grassland obligate species – birds that can only live on the prairies. This includes birds such as the Burrowing Owl and Chestnut-collared Longspur. Many grassland bird species are threatened or endangered. Threats to grassland habitat include conversion to other land uses, such as crop-land, and climate change. Advocating and spreading the word about the importance of grassland habitat is key to having people recognize the importance of this often under-appreciated habitat.

Forest habitat – Manitoba contains a variety of forested habitats from boreal to aspen woodlands. Common threats to forest habitat include clearing or breaking up the forest habitat used by birds, spraying of pesticides and climate change. Keeping remaining woodlots and forest habitats intact is key to help forest birds survive.

A Red-headed Woodpecker in a woodlot at the North, East and West Shoal Lakes IBA in 2020. Red-headed Woodpeckers are a threatened species under the federal Species at Risk Act. Photo by Amanda Shave.

Urban habitat – While urban habitat is not in danger of declining, the quality of the habitat within urban areas is not all equal. Providing food, water and shelter for birds that live in our city habitats can be key. This can include planting native plants that go to seed, reducing the use of pesticides to benefit insect-eating birds, and leaving brush in areas of your yard to provide shelter.


Volunteer with a Conservation Organization

Manitoba IBA has several different volunteer opportunities available for people of all birding skill levels. If you would like to know about volunteer opportunities as they come up, please email iba@naturemanitoba.ca.

Some of our weed pull volunteers in 2020 doing an excellent job social distancing while improving the habitat for shorebirds at Riverton Sandy Bar IBA. Photo by Amanda Shave.

Bird Blitz Volunteers – Volunteers go out in groups to count and monitor bird populations in our Important Bird Areas. This gives us an idea of the health of the IBAs, general bird trends, outreach and education opportunities and is overall good fun!

Shoreline Clean-up and Weed Pull Volunteers – Manitoba IBA conducts weed pulls and shoreline clean-ups at our IBAs along Lake Winnipeg and Lake Manitoba. Abandoned fishing gear and other garbage can entangle birds but is easy to clean up! Invasive vegetation, such as burdock and sweet clover can take over a beach, growing over the open, sandy habitat that is key for some birds like Piping Plovers.

International Shorebird Survey (ISS) Volunteers – Are you interested in shorebirds? If you go birding along any of our ISS routes in Manitoba, please enter the checklist under the ISS protocol in ebird.org! If you would like to learn more about shorebird ID we would be glad to partner you with an experienced volunteer to learn the ropes.

IBA Caretaker Volunteers – If you tend to visit your local IBA multiple times a year, you may be interested in becoming an IBA caretaker for that IBA. Our Caretakers submit regular bird reports to us from their IBA. See here for more information.

New Materials Available for Wetland Habitats in Manitoba IBAs

La version français suit…

With funding from the EcoAction Community Program Grant, Manitoba IBA was able to create and translate new materials for volunteers and the public to use.

Our popular Shorebird Identification Cards and Wetland Bird Identification Cards are now available in both English and French. These laminated cards have a photo, size and a brief descriptor of shorebirds and common wetland birds of Manitoba. They fold up and are easy to store in your pocket as a quick reference guide. You can find them here, or contact us for a paper copy in either language at iba@naturemanitoba.ca.

This spring will be the first full year for the new Shorebird Scrape that was built at Oak Hammock Marsh last year. A scrape is a shallow, low-lying depression in the ground. Scrapes have been used to create habitat for shorebirds in Europe, but to our knowledge this is the first time it has been tried in Manitoba. Scrapes create gently sloping bare shoreline habitat and shallow water habitat that is custom-made for shorebirds to be able to feed. Scrapes are fed by snow-melt and rainfall so we expect the scrape will have its first full year of potential on display this spring (as it was built last autumn).

In addition to creating shorebird habitat our wetland scrape can have a variety of other uses such as:

  • Creating habitat for many other plants and animals that use shallow water and shoreline habitats
  • Storage of water on the landscape
  • Flood reduction
  • Water filtration for excess nutrients and other pollution
  • Recreation – birding and other wildlife viewing.

If you are curious about shorebird scrapes or freshwater habitat, we have two new factsheets available on our website to help! Our Manitoba’s First Shorebird Scrape factsheet provides more information about this new-to-Manitoba conservation tool, and our Freshwater Habitat for Birds in Manitoba factsheet has a variety of information and tips on how you can help keep our freshwater habitats in Manitoba healthy. Our factsheets are available in English and French. You can find both factsheets here, or contact us for a paper copy.

Nouveaux matériaux disponibles pour les habitats des terres humides dans les ZICO du Manitoba

Grâce au financement de la subvention du programme communautaire ÉcoAction, la ZICO du Manitoba a pu créer et traduire de nouveaux documents à l’usage des bénévoles et du public.

Nos cartes populaires d’identification des oiseaux de rivage et des oiseaux des milieux humides sont maintenant disponibles en anglais et en français. Ces cartes plastifiées comportent une photo, la taille et une brève description des oiseaux de rivage et des oiseaux communs des milieux humides du Manitoba. Elles se plient et sont faciles à ranger dans votre poche comme guide de référence rapide. Vous pouvez les trouver ici, ou nous contacter pour obtenir une copie papier dans l’une ou l’autre langue à iba@naturemanitoba.ca.

Ce printemps sera la première année complète d’utilisation du nouvel étrépage pour oiseaux de rivage qui a été construit au marais Oak Hammock l’année dernière. Un étrépage est une dépression peu profonde et de faible hauteur dans le sol. Les étrépages ont été utilisés pour créer un habitat pour les oiseaux de rivage en Europe, mais à notre connaissance, c’est la première fois qu’il est essayé au Manitoba. Les étrépages créent un habitat de rivage nu en pente douce et un habitat d’eau peu profonde qui est fait sur mesure pour que les oiseaux de rivage puissent se nourrir. Les étrépages sont alimentés par la fonte des neiges et les précipitations, de sorte que nous prévoyons que l’étrépage aura sa première année complète de potentiel en démonstration ce printemps (puisqu’il a été construit l’automne dernier).

En plus de créer un habitat pour les oiseaux de rivage, notre étrépage des zones humides peut avoir une variété d’autres utilisations telles que :

– La création d’un habitat pour de nombreuses autres plantes et animaux qui utilisent les eaux peu profondes et les habitats du littoral

– Le stockage de l’eau dans le paysage

– la réduction des inondations

– La filtration de l’eau pour l’excès de nutriments et autres polluants

– Les loisirs : bservation des oiseaux et d’autres espèces sauvages.

Si vous êtes curieux au sujet des étrépages d’oiseaux de rivage ou des habitats d’eau douce, nous avons deux nouvelles fiches d’information disponibles sur notre site Web pour vous aider ! Notre fiche d’information sur le premier étrépage à limicoles du Manitoba fournit plus d’information sur ce nouvel outil de conservation au Manitoba et notre fiche d’information sur les habitats d’eau douce pour les oiseaux au Manitoba contient une variété d’informations et de conseils sur la façon dont vous pouvez aider à garder nos habitats d’eau douce en bonne santé au Manitoba. Nos fiches d’information sont disponibles en anglais et en français. Vous pouvez trouver les deux fiches ici, ou nous contacter pour obtenir une copie papier dans l’une ou l’autre langue à iba@naturemanitoba.ca.  

We are Hiring!

Manitoba IBA is hiring for two positions this summer. We are looking for a Grassland Bird Monitoring Technician, as well as a Species at Risk Assistant for the 2021 field season. Please continue reading for both job descriptions.


Grassland Bird Monitoring Technician

The Manitoba Important Bird Areas (IBA) Program is hiring a Grassland Bird Monitoring Technician. Communication will be necessary with staff in Winnipeg, but this job can be based anywhere in Manitoba. It includes a significant period of travel in southwestern Manitoba. Salary is $3,000- $3,300 CDN per month (based on experience) plus reimbursement for travel costs. Contract length is flexible at around 12 weeks. For more information on the Manitoba IBA Areas program, visit: http://importantbirdareasmb.ca

Responsibilities

  • Work with the IBA Program Coordinator and other partner organizations to plan field season in southwestern Manitoba;
  • Conduct grassland breeding bird surveys on private pastureland in southwestern Manitoba;
  • Liaise with grassland landowners to arrange surveys and provide outreach on grassland birds in southwestern Manitoba;
  • Multi-night travel to southwestern Manitoba during the breeding bird season;
  • Data management, data entry and basic statistical analysis for results of grassland bird surveys;
  • Writing personalized report for each participating landowner and final season-end report to Manitoba IBA and project funders;
  • Other duties as assigned.

Qualifications

  • A minimum of an undergraduate degree in biology, conservation or environmental science degree / diploma program;
  • Strong knowledge and ability to identify Manitoba grassland birds by sight and sound;
  • Previous experience conducting point counts and/ or surveying birds using other sampling methods;
  • Ability to plan and work independently as well as collaborate remotely as part of a team;
  • Comfortable and experienced in working safely in remote environments and around cattle;
  • Experience with and knowledge of Microsoft office, GPS, and navigation using legal land maps;
  • Organized with a strong attention to detail;
  • Previous experience in environmental education and outreach is a strong asset;
  • Valid Driver’s License.

Start Date:

May 2021

Interested in applying?

Applicants must meet the following criteria to be eligible for the position:

  • Living in Manitoba;
  • Legally entitled to work in Canada.

How to Apply:

Interested applicants should forward their resume and short 1 page cover letter as 1 PDF file by email to the IBA Coordinator at iba@naturemanitoba.ca (Subject line: Grassland Bird Monitoring Technician) by March 29, 2021.

Only those candidates selected for an interview will be contacted.


Avian Species at Risk Assistant

The Manitoba Important Bird Area (IBA) Program is hiring an Avian Species at Risk Assistant. This position is based out of Winnipeg and includes travel to various IBAs in southern and central Manitoba. This position will include some weekend work. The position is a 500-hour full-time contract at $13/ hr – start date May 2021.

For more information on the Manitoba IBA program, visit: http://importantbirdareasmb.ca.

Responsibilities

Working closely with the IBA Coordinator, the responsibilities of the Avian Species at Risk Assistant are to:

  • monitor populations of threatened birds in Manitoba’s IBAs;
  • assist with organising events and activities for the Manitoba IBA Program, such as bird blitzes;
  • provide outreach to landowners with the federally threatened Red-headed Woodpecker, Eastern Whip-poor-will and various shorebird species at risk;
  • research and develop educational materials for landowners and the general public to promote education of species at risk;
  • represent the IBA Program at meetings, local events and festivals in southern and central Manitoba;
  • assist with Manitoba IBA blog site and social media;
  • assist with volunteer and partner communications via email and phone;
  • other duties as assigned.

Qualifications

  • A minimum of 2 years of post-secondary education in biology, conservation or environmental science degree / diploma program;
  • A keen interest in, knowledge of and ability to identify birds in Manitoba;
  • Previous experience in environmental education and outreach is a strong asset;
  • Experience with & knowledge of WordPress, Facebook and the Microsoft Office suite;
  • Exceptional written and interpersonal communication skills;
  • Strong organizational skills and attention to detail;
  • Ability to work well as a team and independently;
  • Valid Drivers license is required.

Interested in applying?

Applicants must meet the following criteria to be eligible for the position:

  • Living in Manitoba; and
  • Legally entitled to work in Canada.

How to Apply:

Interested applicants should forward their resume and short 1 page cover letter as 1 PDF file by email to the IBA Coordinator at iba@naturemanitoba.ca (Subject line: Avian Species at Risk Assistant) by March 29th, 2021.

Only those candidates selected for an interview will be contacted.

International Shorebird Survey Summary 2020

La version français suit…

Lynnea surveying for shorebirds at the end of ISS Route West 3 at Whitewater Lake. Photo by A. Shave.

The International Shorebird Survey is an international monitoring program started by Manomet. In spring 2018 members of the Manitoba IBA program, Westman Naturalists and others participated in a workshop with Manomet to enable us to start this monitoring program in Manitoba.

Our two surveys sites are Whitewater Lake (3 routes on the west side of the IBA and 4 routes on the east side), and Oak Lake/ Plum Lakes (5 routes). Normally the monitoring includes each route being surveyed 3 times in the spring and 3 times in the fall each year. However, this year with COVID-19, normal monitoring efforts were not possible.

However, we did still want to gather some data on these ISS routes, and so surveys were done when safe, and when possible according to provincial and federal health guidelines. While this year’s data as a whole is not able to be directly compared to survey efforts in the past (due to difference in sampling effort), below are our results from our spring and fall ISS surveys in 2020. Although all species seen are recorded under the ISS protocol, only shorebird species are reported below.

A big thank you to Glennis, Gillian, Lynnea and Christian, our volunteers who helped with ISS this year! Also thank you to Nate and Alyssa, our summer assistants who learned fall shorebird ID on the fly.

Spring 2020 Oak Lake/ Plum Lakes IBA

We were only able to get out once to monitor 2 of the 5 routes at Oak Lake/ Plum Lakes this spring due to uncertainty about COVID-19 and travel advisories. A total of 6 species were seen (plus some unidentified shorebird species seen in the distance).

Fall 2020 Oak Lake/ Plum Lakes

All ISS routes at Oak Lake/ Plum Lakes were visited at least once (1-3 visits per site) over the course of 3 trips by the IBA program and volunteers. A total of 11 species were seen (in addition to some unidentified “peeps”).

Spring 2020 Whitewater Lake Results

We were able to visit Whitewater Lake 4 times this spring, although each route was run a different number of times. Some routes we were able to run according to ISS protocol (3 or more surveys), others that are harder to access were only surveyed once. A total of 25 shorebird species were seen during spring surveys, with a few unidentified shorebird species and “peep” species mixed in.

A highlight of the Whitewater Lake spring surveys for myself was a nice view of some Whimbrels landing in a field while Lynnea and I were surveying on the east side of Whitewater Lake. If we had not seen them fly in, I don’t think we would have noticed them, they were so camouflaged with the habitat, and at quite a distance. On the flip side, on the same trip but on the west side of the lake Lynnea and I encountered a large number of tiny parachuting spiders which was not nearly so nice.

You can see why Whitewater Lake is a great place for birds that eat insects! So many midges in late May. Photo by A. Shave.

Fall 2020 Whitewater Lake

Whitewater Lake sites were visited between 1-5 times each over a course of 8 trips by the IBA program and volunteers. A total of 23 species were identified (with additional unidentified shorebird species and “peep” species).

Future International Shorebird Surveys

During the periods where the Manitoba IBA program could not travel to western Manitoba, we stayed closer to home to explore some new opportunities for shorebird surveys in central/eastern Manitoba. Stay tuned for more information on this!

If you are interested in learning more about shorebird Identification or about volunteering to be part of the International Shorebird Survey, please contact Amanda at iba@naturemanitoba.ca. Volunteering as part of the shorebird survey can be as easy as running a route while out birding in the area, and we are happy to provide personalized, hands-on training in the field!

Résumé du Recensement international des oiseaux limicoles 2020

Lynnea recensant des oiseaux de rivages à la fin de la route 3 Ouest du RIOL au Lac Whitewater. Photo d’A. Shave.

Le recensement international des oiseaux limicoles est un programme de suivi international initié par Manomet. Au printemps 2018, les membres du programme de ZICO Manitoba, des naturalistes de Westman et d’autres personnes ont participé à un atelier offert par Manomet afin de pouvoir commencer ce programme de dénombrement au Manitoba.

Nos deux sites de suivi sont le Lac Whitewater (3 routes du côté ouest de la ZICO et 4 routes du côté est), et aux Lac Oak / Lacs PLum (5 routes). En temps normal, le suivi annuel de chaque route est fait 3 fois au printemps et 3 fois à l’automne. Toutefois, en raison de la COVID-19, nos activités normales de dénombrement n’ont pas été possibles cette année.

Cependant, nous voulions toujours recueillir certaines données sur ces routes du RIOL, donc les recensements ont été faits lorsqu’il était sécuritaire et possible de le faire selon les recommandations fédérales et provinciales de la santé. Même si les données de cette année ne peuvent pas être directement comparées aux efforts des suivis des années précédentes (dû à la différence de l’échantillonnage), les résultats des suivis du RIOL du printemps et de l’automne 2020 sont présentés ci-bas. Bien que toutes les espèces observées soient consignées dans le protocole du RIOL, seules les espèces limicoles font l’objet de ce rapport.

Un grand merci à Glennis, Gillian, Lynnea et Christian, nos bénévoles aux RICO de cette année, ainsi qu’à Nate et Alyssa, nos assistants d’été qui ont appris à identifier les limicoles à la volée.

Lac Oak/ Lacs Plum au printemps 2020

Nous n’avons pu recenser que 2 des 5 routes aux Lac Oak / Lacs Plum ce printemps suite aux restrictions de voyage. En tout, 6 espèces ont été observées (plus quelques autres espèces limicoles non-identifiées au loin).

Lac Oak / Lacs Plum à l’automne 2020

Toutes les routes de la ZICO des Oak Lake/ Plum Lakesont été recensées au moins une fois (1-3 visites par site) lors de trois visites par le programme ZICO et les bénévoles. En tout, 11 espèces ont été observées (en plus de quelques bécasseaux non-identifiés).

Résultats au Lac Whitewater au printemps 2020

Nous avons pu visiter le Lac Whitewater quatre fois ce printemps, quoique chaque route a été visitée un différent nombre de fois. Le protocole du RIOL (3 recensements ou plus) a été respecté pour certaines routes, mais celles étant difficiles d’accès n’ont été visitées qu’une seule fois. En tout, 25 espèces limicoles ont été observées lors de ces recensements, en plus de quelques espèces limicoles non-identifiées.

À mon avis, le point saillant des recensements printaniers du Lac Whitewater a été la découverte de quelques courlis corlieux alors que Lynnea et moi recensions la rive est du Lac Whitewater. S’ils n’étaient pas arrivés en volant, je ne crois pas que nous les aurions remarqués tant ils se camouflaient bien dans leur habitat, en plus d’être éloignés. En revanche, lors de la même excursion mais sur la rive ouest du lac, Lynnea et moi avons croisé un nombre incroyable de minuscules araignées se laissant porter par le vent, ce qui était moins agréable.

Comme vous pouvez le voir, le Lac Whitewater est un très bon endroit pour les oiseaux se nourrissant d’insectes! Il y a énormément de moucherons à la fin mai. Photo d’A. Shave.

Lac Whitewater à l’automne 2020

Les sites du Lac Whitewater ont été visités de 1 à 5 fois chacun lors de 8 voyages faits par les bénévoles du programme ZICO. 23 espèces ont été identifiées en tout (en plus des espèces limicoles non-identifiées).

Les prochains Recensements internationaux des oiseaux limicoles

Lorsque le programme des ZICO Manitoba ne pouvaient pas se rendre dans l’ouest du Manitoba, nous nous restions en région afin d’explorer de nouveaux sites pour les recensements de limicoles dans le centre et l’est du Manitoba.  Nous vous ferons parvenir plus d’information à ce sujet!

Si vous voulez en apprendre davantage au sujet de l’identification des limicoles ou pour devenir bénévole du Recensement international des oiseaux limicoles, veuillez contacter Amanda à iba@naturemanitoba.ca. Être bénévole pour un recensement de limicoles est aussi simple que de suivre un itinéraire tout en observant les oiseaux dans la région, et il nous fera plaisir de vous offrir une formation personnalisée sur le terrain!

World Wetlands Day

La version français suit…

February 2nd may be known more widely as Groundhog Day in Canada, but did you know it is also World Wetland Day? As so many of our Important Bird Areas in Manitoba contain wetland habitat, it is only fitting that we have a blog post to celebrate all that wetlands do for us and the birds!

A Red-winged Blackbird at Oak Hammock Marsh. Photo by A. Shave

What makes wetlands such good habitat?

Shallow water in wetlands means that light penetrates to the bottom of the water column, which promotes plant growth and provides habitat for many small insects and crustaceans. Some of these insects will spend all their lives in water, while others will leave the water as adults. All this insect life is an excellent food source for birds from warblers to ducks.

Additionally, wetlands provide excellent habitat for birds that are adapted to live there. Plants often grow thick and tall in wetlands (such as cattail and bulrush) that provide good places to hide nests from predators. Nesting in areas higher ground surrounded by water, or floating nests also means that also provides safety from predators looking to snack on eggs or young birds.

What services do wetlands provide to people?

Wetlands provide many services to people, that we often don’t consider in our day to day lives:

  • Water storage – Wetlands store water in times of excess precipitation, and provide a reservoir of water in times of less precipitation.
  •  Flood control – Related to water storage, wetlands as natural flood control measures is key in southern Manitoba. Wetlands are able to store both water from winter snow melt, and spring precipitation. Without wetlands this water would drain fast off the landscape, leading to more flooding.
  • Shoreline stabilization – Wetlands protect against erosion caused by wave action and storms. We see this in action at Delta Marsh (south end of Lake Manitoba) and Netley-Libau Marsh (south end of Lake Winnipeg), which protect the shoreline against wave action caused by northerly winds.
  • Water purification – As water moves very slowly through wetlands, they can trap excess nutrients (like phosphorus), sediments and heavy metals that get taken up by plant roots or are trapped in the wetland bottoms.
  • And more!

Manitoba Wetland IBAs

Manitoba has many wetland IBAs. Here are a couple of highlights:

Oak Hammock Marsh – An easy drive from Winnipeg, Oak Hammock Marsh is a RAMSAR wetland. It is constructed through a series of human-made dikes. These dikes allow water levels in different areas of the marsh to be artificially raised and lowered to provide a variety of water levels and habitats. Oak Hammock Marsh is also where you will find the shorebird scrape – a first-of-its-kind habitat constructed in Manitoba for shorebirds in summer 2020.

While Oak Hammock Marsh looks frozen over in February for World Wetlands Day – it is still key habitat for our resident birds. Photo by A. Shave

Delta Marsh – Just 15 minutes north of Portage la Prairie, Delta Marsh is also a RAMSAR wetland. Delta marsh hosts many different species of birds due to the combination of marsh, lake and a treed sand ridge habitat. High counts of birds using the marsh in recent years include Bonaparte’s Gull (6,710 in 2018), Franklin’s Gull (15,000 in 2020) and Semipalmated Plover (1,905 in 2016).

Delta Marsh at sunset. Photo A. Shave

Douglas Marsh – near to Brandon, Douglas marsh is actually a type of wetland called a fen. Fens are wetlands that have a lot of organic material (peat), as well as a continuous flow of surface and/or groundwater. They are usually dominated by grasses and sedges. Douglas Marsh IBA is best known for its population of Yellow Rails. They are a secretive species that are more often heard than seen. Listen after dark for a sound like rocks clacking together to identify the Yellow Rail.

Pectoral Sandpipers using wetland habitat at Shoals Lakes during a 2020 bird blitz. Photo by A. Shave

Manitoba has many, many more IBAs that are key breeding and/or migratory stopover habitat for our birds. If you are interested in exploring Manitoba’s wetland IBAs stay tuned for volunteer opportunities with bird blitzes and the International Shorebird Survey coming this spring with Manitoba IBA.

Journée mondiale des zones humides

Le 2 février est peut-être plus largement connu comme la Journée de la marmotte au Canada, mais saviez-vous que c’est aussi la Journée mondiale des zones humides ? Comme un grand nombre de nos zones primordiales pour les oiseaux au Manitoba contiennent des habitats de zones humides, il est tout à fait approprié que nous postions un article de blog pour célébrer tout ce que les zones humides font pour nous et les oiseaux !

Un carouge à épaulettes à marais de Oak Hammock. Photo d’A. Shave.

Qu’est-ce qui fait des zones humides un si bon habitat ?

Les eaux peu profondes des zones humides signifient que la lumière pénètre jusqu’au fond de la colonne d’eau, ce qui favorise la croissance des plantes et fournit un habitat à de nombreux petits insectes et crustacés. Certains de ces insectes passeront toute leur vie dans l’eau, tandis que d’autres la quitteront à l’âge adulte. Toute cette vie d’insectes est une excellente source de nourriture pour les oiseaux, des parulines aux canards.

De plus, les zones humides offrent un excellent habitat aux oiseaux qui sont adaptés pour y vivre. Les plantes poussent souvent en hauteur et en épaisseur dans les zones humides (comme les quenouilles et les joncs) qui offrent de bons endroits pour cacher les nids des prédateurs. Le fait de nicher dans des zones plus élevées entourées d’eau ou dans des nids flottants permet également de se mettre à l’abri des prédateurs qui cherchent à picorer les œufs ou dévorer les jeunes oiseaux.

Quels services les zones humides fournissent-elles aux personnes ?

Les zones humides fournissent de nombreux services aux personnes, dont nous ne tenons souvent pas compte dans notre vie quotidienne :

  • Stockage de l’eau – Les zones humides stockent l’eau en cas de précipitations excessives et constituent un réservoir d’eau lorsque les précipitations sont plus faibles.
  • Contrôle des inondations – En ce qui concerne le stockage de l’eau, les zones humides comme mesures naturelles de contrôle des inondations sont essentielles dans le sud du Manitoba. Les zones humides sont capables de stocker à la fois l’eau de la fonte des neiges en hiver et les précipitations du printemps. Sans les zones humides, cette eau s’écoulerait rapidement hors du paysage, ce qui entraînerait davantage d’inondations.
  • Stabilisation du littoral – Les zones humides protègent contre l’érosion causée par l’action des vagues et des tempêtes. On le voit en action au marais Delta (extrémité sud du lac Manitoba) et au marais Netley-Libau (extrémité sud du lac Winnipeg), qui protègent le littoral contre l’action des vagues causées par les vents du nord.
  • Purification de l’eau – Comme l’eau se déplace très lentement dans les zones humides, elle peut piéger l’excès de nutriments (comme le phosphore), les sédiments et les métaux lourds qui sont absorbés par les racines des plantes ou sont piégés dans le fond des zones humides…
  • Et plus encore !

ZICO des zones humides du Manitoba

Le Manitoba compte de nombreuses ZICO de zones humides. En voici quelques exemples :

Marais de Oak Hammock – A quelques minutes de route de Winnipeg, le marais de Oak Hammock est une zone humide RAMSAR. Il est construit grâce à une série de digues construites par l’homme. Ces digues permettent d’élever et d’abaisser artificiellement le niveau de l’eau dans différentes zones du marais afin d’offrir une variété de niveaux d’eau et d’habitats. Le marais Oak Hammock est également l’endroit où vous trouverez le grattage des oiseaux de rivage – un habitat unique en son genre construit au Manitoba pour les oiseaux de rivage à l’été 2020.

Alors que le marais de Oak Hammock semble gelé en février pour la Journée mondiale des zones humides, il reste un habitat important pour nos oiseaux d’hiver. Photo d’A. Shave.

Marais du Delta – A 15 minutes au nord de Portage la Prairie, le marais du Delta est également une zone humide RAMSAR. Le marais du Delta abrite de nombreuses espèces d’oiseaux différentes en raison de la combinaison du marais et d’une crête de sable couverte d’arbres. Parmi les oiseaux qui ont fréquenté le marais ces dernières années, on compte la mouette de Bonaparte (6,710 en 2018), la mouette de Franklin (15,000 en 2020) et le Pluvier semipalmé (1,905 en 2016).

Marais du Delta au coucher du soleil. Photo d’A. Shave.

Marais de Douglas – près de Brandon, le marais de Douglas est en fait un type de zone humide appelée marécage. Les marécages sont des zones humides qui contiennent beaucoup de matière organique (tourbe), ainsi qu’un flux continu de surface et/ou d’eau souterraine. Ils sont généralement dominés par des herbes et des carex. La ZICO du marais Douglas est surtout connue pour sa population de râles jaunes. Il s’agit d’une espèce secrète qui est plus souvent entendue que vue. La nuit, écoutez le bruit de pierres qui s’entrechoquent pour identifier le râle jaune.

Bécasseau à poitrine cendrée utilisant l’habitat des terres humides des lacs Shoals. Photo d’A. Shave

Si vous êtes intéressé par l’exploration des ZICO du Manitoba, restez à l’écoute pour connaître les possibilités de bénévolat dans le cadre des campagnes de chasse aux oiseaux et de l’International Shorebird Survey qui aura lieu ce printemps dans les ZICO du Manitoba.

COSEWIC Updates 2020

‘Tis the time of year again – not the holiday season – instead the annual COSEWIC meeting. 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.

At COSEWIC meetings Species Specialist Subcommittees (say that three times fast!) meet to determine changes to COSEWIC wildlife rankings and determine the urgency for wildlife species to receive COSEWIC assessments. These rankings sort wildlife candidates into different risk categories (special concern, threatened, endangered, extirpated) after an assessment and different priority categories (high, mid and low priority) prior to a COSEWIC assessment.

Changes to Species at Risk Status:

Lesser Yellowlegs

Lesser Yellowlegs was assessed by COSEWIC as Threatened. Previously Lesser Yellowlegs was a Priority for assessment by COSEWIC. Lesser Yellowlegs can be found in many of our IBAs such as Whitewater, Oak Lake/ Plum Lake, Shoal Lakes and Oak Hammock Marsh IBA, just to name a few.

Lesser Yellowlegs. Photo by Christian Artuso.

Canada Warbler

Some good news here! Previously ranked as Threatened by COSEWIC, now re-assessed as Special Concern. While we don’t have an IBA specifically triggered by the Canada Warbler, we do sometimes get a glimpse of them during migration season. Otherwise look for them in the Boreal Forest during breeding season.

Canada Warbler. Photo by Dale Bonk/Audubon Photography Awards

Bird Species up for Assessment in 2021:

Horned Lark– High Priority

Seven of the eight subspecies are listed as priorities for COSEWIC assessment. The eighth subspecies is already listed as endangered. Subspecies of Horned Lark listed as occurring in Manitoba are the Saskatchewan Horned Lark, Hoyt’s Horned Lark and the Desert Horned Lark. Long term declines of these subspecies range from 52%-89% (1970-2018) and short-term declines range from 15%-42% (2008-2018) from sources such as the Breeding Bird Survey and Christmas Bird Count.

Horned Lark. Photo by Christoph Moning/ Cornell All About Birds

Snowy Owl – High Priority

Snowy Owl populations are thought to have declined to approximately 15% of their historical numbers worldwide. The Snowy Owl breeds on the northern edges of Manitoba and northward on the arctic tundra. We more often see Snowy Owls in Manitoba during the winter season. Threats contributing to this decline are mostly unknown, but the rapid pace of climate change is likely a key driver on the breeding grounds.

Snowy Owl. Photo by Mark Benavides/ Cornell All About Birds.

Other species still on candidate list from prior to 2020:

Sanderling – High Priority

Pectoral Sandpiper – High Priority

Stilt Sandpiper – High Priority

Dunlin – High Priority

Semipalmated Sandpiper – High Priority

Killdeer – High Priority

Whimbrel – High Priority

Connecticut Warbler – High Priority

Le Conte’s Sparrow – Mid Priority

Upland Sandpiper – Mid Priority

Long-billed Dowitcher – Mid Priority

American Golden Plover – Mid priority

Purple Martin – Mid Priority

Blackpoll Warbler – Mid Priority

Arctic Tern – Mid Priority

Black Tern – Low Priority

Western Wood-Pewee – Low Priority

Brewer’s Blackbird – Low Priority

American Kestrel – Low Priority

Pine Siskin – Low Priority

If you are interested in other types of wildlife discussed in recent COSEWIC meetings check out the links below:

Summary of COSEWIC Wildlife Species Assessments, November 2020

COSEWIC Candidate Wildlife Species