Where are they now?

We are so lucky to be right in the middle of the migration path for so many birds! It certainly makes migration season an exciting time of year. I thought we could take a quick fall migration journey with a few of the species that have triggered areas of Manitoba to become IBAs. I have picked just a few examples from different habitats and types of birds, but there are so many others that also go on amazing migratory journeys each year.

You can use eBird.ca to track bird movements as they are sighted by citizen scientists throughout the year. Here I focused on the large picture of fall migration, but you can also zoom in to see specific locations and habitats that birds are using through satellite imagery (assuming the location entered by the observer is precise). You can make you own maps on eBird’s Explore Species Maps. Each image can be clicked to make them full screen for easier viewing.

Chestnut-collard Longspur – Grassland habitat

IBAs: Southwestern Mix-Grass Prairie and Ellis-Archie/ Spyhill

The Chestnut-collard Longspur is a medium distance migrant. The individuals that spend their summers on Manitoba’s southwestern prairie region overwinter in the short-grass prairie and desert grasslands of the southern U.S.A. and northern Mexico. While in the breeding season they nest in pairs, during fall migration and in the nonbreeding season large numbers of individuals will flock together.

Sightings of Chestnut-collared Longspurs in August 2020. eBird.org
Sightings of Chestnut-collared Longspurs in September 2020. eBird.org
Sightings of Chestnut-collared Longspurs in October 2020. eBird.org

Hudsonian Godwit – Northern Manitoba

IBAs: Nelson River Estuary and Marsh Point and Kaskattama River Mouth

In southern and central Manitoba we generally only see the Hudsonian Godwit as it migrates to its breeding grounds each spring. This makes sense as this Godwit is a long-distance migrant – heading from southern South America to the Arctic breeding grounds each year. We tend not to see Hudsonian Godwits on fall migration because they follow a circular migration route. In the spring they follow a more westerly migration route which can take them over Manitoba, while in the fall they go to eastern North America before heading south. Many shorebirds in the Americas have a similar migration pattern. I spent some time in 2015 volunteering as a bird monitor in the Patagonia region of Argentina, and was lucky enough to see a couple Hudsonian Godwits. It was neat to see a bird that might have migrated over Manitoba so far from home.

Sightings of Hudsonian Godwits in August 2020. eBird.org
Sightings of Hudsonian Godwits in September 2020. More sightings occurred in South America as well. eBird.org
Sightings of Hudsonian Godwits in October 2020. More sightings occurred in South America as well. eBird.org

Rusty Blackbird

IBAs: Netley-Libau Marsh; Nelson River Estuary and Marsh Point; Churchill and Vicinity; Oak Lake/ Plum Lake; Whitewater Lake; Southwestern Mix-Grass Prairie; Delta Marsh; North, West and East Shoal Lakes; Oak Hammock Marsh, and Riverton Sandy Bar The Rusty Blackbird breeds throughout the boreal region in Canada and Alaska and migrates to spend the winter in the east-central and southeastern U.S.A. In the fall Rusty Blackbirds can be seen mixing with migrants of other blackbird species, as well as American Robins and Blue Jays.

Sightings of Rusty Blackbirds in August 2020. eBird.org
Sightings of Rusty Blackbirds in September 2020. eBird.org
Sightings of Rusty Blackbirds in October 2020. eBird.org

Red-headed Woodpecker

IBAs: Kinosota/ Leifur and North, West and East Shoal Lakes

The Red-headed Woodpecker is a short distance migrant. Manitoba is on the northern edge of its breeding range, and we see Red-headed Woodpeckers in the south and central parts of the province. In the winter they make the (comparatively) short journey to central and southeastern U.S.A. The yearly dynamics of the location and timing of fall migration are impacted by the abundance of hard mast (seeds of hardwoods – like Oak with acorns).

Sightings of Red-headed Woodpeckers in August 2020. eBird.org
Sightings of Red-headed Woodpeckers in September 2020. eBird.org
Sightings of Red-headed Woodpeckers in October 2020. eBird.org

You may have noticed that the four species I’ve chosen to highlight above are federally listed as Species at Risk, and two of them are provincially listed under the Endangered Species and Ecosystems Act. Seeing how ranges shift during, before and after migration really brings home that threats these species face can vary widely. This means cooperation on conservation measures is also imperative between regions, countries and continents that are lucky enough to share these birds.

Manitoba IBA at Oak Hammock Marsh Migration Festival

La version français suit…

Amanda, Alyssa and Tim from Manitoba IBA attended Oak Hammock Marsh’s Migration Festival on September 26th, 2020. Despite a wide variety of weather conditions throughout the day, we were happy to lead a couple of shorebird walks and show off the new shorebird scrape.

The day started with Tim Poole (now the chair of the Manitoba IBA Steering Committee) leading a shorebird walk at 8:00am. We had lovely weather for the start – sunny and just a little cool, but perhaps because mother nature knew Tim had to head off at 9:00am, the skies ended our birding walk with a chilly drizzle. Despite the change in weather, we saw good numbers and a good variety of shorebirds. Shorebirds were seen at the front pond, the Coot cell (off of Muskrat Trail), the Teal cell (on the east side the Teal trail) and the shorebird scrape. We had approximately 15 participants on this walk.

For the next shorebird walk at 11:00am I (Amanda) took over as the walk leader. Unfortunately, we had a number of participants cancel due to the poor weather earlier in the morning. However, as the start time came around, there was nothing but blue skies and warming temperatures. A family of four keen birders ended up with a private tour of shorebirds around Oak Hammock!

Alyssa looking at Greater Yellowlegs at the Shorebird Scrape. Copyright A. Shave.

After the bird walks, myself and Alyssa headed out to the shorebird scrape to be Station 6 on Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre’s Migration Station activity. A variety of groups came to learn more about the scrape throughout the day and take a close up look at the variety of shorebirds, geese and ducks using the scrape and pond. By far the most numerous birds throughout most of the day were Canada Geese and Cackling Geese (hanging out nicely side-by-side for easy comparison), with Greater Yellowlegs being the most numerous shorebird. An interesting part of our time at the scrape was watching several Greater Yellowlegs being harassed by Canada Geese. However, the Yellowlegs were not quite concerned enough to un-tuck their feet so they hopped over on one leg to move away (rather than running or flying – behaviour I have not seen before).

Our bird list for the shorebird scrape around 1:00pm:

Species NameCount
Snow Goose3
Cackling Goose320
Canada Goose840
Blue-winged Teal2
Greater Scaup1
Common Goldeneye1
Pied-billed Grebe1
Pectoral Sandpiper4
Wilson’s Snipe1
Greater Yellowlegs16
Lesser Yellowlegs5
Franklin’s Gull15

ZICO Manitoba au Festival des oiseaux migrateurs du Marais Oak Hammock

Amanda, Alyssa et Tim de ZICO Manitoba ont assisté au Festival des oiseaux migrateurs du Marais Oak Hammock le 26 septembre 2020. Malgré les conditions météos changeantes tout au long de la journée, nous avons eu le plaisir d’animer deux promenades d’observation d’oiseaux de rivage et de montrer le nouvel étrépage de limicoles.

La journée a commencé avec Tim Poole (maintenant le président du Comité directeur de ZICO Manitoba) qui a animé une promenade d’observation d’oiseaux de rivage à 8h00. Le temps était beau au début – ensoleillé et frais; mais on aurait dit que Dame Nature savait que Tim devait quitter à 9h00 car la promenade s’est terminée avec une bruine froide. Malgré la météo changeante, nous avons vu un bon nombre et une bonne variété d’oiseaux de rivage. Des limicoles ont été observés à l’étang avant, à la cellule Coot (près du sentier Muskrat), à la cellule Teal (du côté est du sentier Teal) et à l’étrépage de limicoles. Environ 15 personnes ont participé à cette promenade.

Lors de la seconde promenade d’observation d’oiseaux de rivage à 11h00, j’ai pris la relève en tant que guide (Amanda). Malheureusement, plusieurs participants s’étaient désistés suite à la piètre météo plus tôt dans la matinée. À l’heure du départ cependant, le ciel bleu était de retour avec une température à la hausse. Une famille de quatre observateurs d’oiseaux passionnés a donc eu droit à une visite privée des oiseaux de rivage autour d’Oak Hammock!

Alyssa observant un grand chevalier à l’étrépage de limicoles. Droit d’auteur d’A. Shave

Après les promenades, Alyssa et moi-même nous sommes dirigés à l’étrépage de limicoles pour animer l’activité de la 6e des stations des migrations d’oiseaux du Centre d’interprétation du marais Oak Hammock. Des groupes variés sont venus tout au long de la journée pour en apprendre plus au sujet de l’étrépage et pour observer la diversité de limicoles et de la sauvagine fréquentant l’étrépage et l’étang. Les espèces les plus nombreuses pendant la journée étaient de loin les bernaches du Canada et de Hutchins (elles se tenaient gentiment côte à côte pour une comparaison aisée); le grand chevalier était l’espèce limicole la plus nombreuse. Un fait intéressant lors de notre présence à l’étrépage était de voir plusieurs grands chevaliers se faire harceler par des bernaches du Canada. Cependant, les chevaliers ne semblaient pas être suffisamment importunés pour déplier la patte et s’éloignaient en sautillant sur un pied (au lieu de courir ou de s’envoler – un comportement que je n’avais jamais observé auparavant).

Notre liste d’observation d’oiseaux à l’étrépage de limicoles vers 13h00 :

Oie des neiges3
Bernache de Hutchins320
Bernache du Canada840
Sarcelle à ailes bleues2
Canard colvert6
Grand fuligule1
Petit garrot1
Garrot à œil d’or1
Grèbe à bec bigarré1
Bécasseau à poitrine cendrée4
Bécassine de Wilson1
Grand chevalier16
Petit chevalier5
Mouette de Franklin15

In the Weeds

La version français suit…

On September 19th volunteers headed to Riverton Sandy Bar IBA for a morning of beautiful fall weather, birding, and weed pulling. Here is a report of the successful day from Alyssa.

Our socially distanced volunteers with some of our weed pulling bags (other bags off in the distance) at the end of the day. Missing Ann, Jock, Peter and Jessica. Thank you everyone!

The morning started off by sharing coffee and snacks in the parking lot as we waited for everyone to arrive. Amanda, assuming the morning would be chilly, brought more than enough coffee for 10 people. Perhaps it was a ploy to energize the group into weed-pulling machines?!?

After mingling, we hiked the roughly 1.5km stretch to our destination. The weeds looked green and healthy as ever, even with several days of fall weather already past. The group got to work tackling areas that would be most desirable for nesting shorebird habitat. Clover, Burdock, and silverweed were quite abundant when we arrived (but not when we left!). It is not often that habitat restoration involves removing vegetation from the area, but by removing weeds we hope to improve the habitat to the sandy-beach qualities desired by some species of shorebirds and terns. The Piping Plover, for example, is a species at risk that has historically nested in this IBA. Although this species has not been seen at Sandy Bar since 2004, they nested at an undisclosed location in Manitoba in 2016. Perhaps our continued efforts will aid in its return.

Around noon the team took a well-deserved break and hiked down the spit in search of shorebirds. We saw a variety of shorebirds, waterfowl, and a few other migrants. Yellow-rumped Warblers have clearly started their migration down south, as they were one of the most abundant species recorded for the day (second to over 600 Canada Geese spotted). Some other highlights were a Ross’s Goose and a Greater White-fronted Goose. We were also lucky enough to have about 15 Sanderlings come very close to our group. They were clearly distracted by all the good grub.

As many of you may know, identifying fall shorebirds can be a bit of a challenge. Some birds, however, were quite cooperative and stood side-by-side with other species so we could have a direct comparison. By seeing them side-by side we could see the daintier qualities of a Golden Plover when compared directly with a chunkier Black-bellied Plover, as well as the black “armpit” of the Black-bellied Plover.

Joanne, Christian, Jock and Peter taking in the shorebirds, while on a birding break from weedpulling. Copyright A. Shave

A few folks popped in at different times throughout the day, but overall we had a total of 10 of us pulling weeds. Together we filled just over 20 bags to the brim with tightly packed weeds, which is about two bags a person!

Peter, Christian and Jessica pulling weeds.
Lynnea and Adam pulling weeds. Copyright A. Shave.

We would like to give a big thank you to Ann, Jessica, Peter, Jock, Lynnea, Adam, Joanne and Christian for joining us in our weed pull event this year! We are looking forward to holding future weedpull events in 2021, so stay tuned.

Thank you to Christian for providing our species list for the day.

Species NameCount
Snow Goose40
Ross’s Goose1
Greater White-fronted Goose1
Cackling Goose2
Canada Goose650
Green-winged Teal4
Ring-necked Duck2
Horned Grebe2
Black-bellied Plover6
American Golden-Plover12
Semipalmated Plover2
Pectoral Sandpiper2
Greater Yellowlegs15
Bonaparte’s Gull16
Ring-billed Gull50
Herring Gull50
Double-crested Cormorant25
American White Pelican9
American Bittern1
Bald Eagle2
Common Raven3
Black-capped Chickadee3
Marsh Wren1
American Robin3
American Pipit30
Lapland Longspur20
Fox Sparrow1
Dark-eyed Junco5
White-crowned Sparrow2
Harris’s Sparrow1
White-throated Sparrow3
Savannah Sparrow5
Common Grackle3
Northern Waterthrush1
Common Yellowthroat2
Palm Warbler3
Yellow-rumped Warbler90

Dans les mauvaises herbes

Le 19 septembre dernier, des bénévoles se sont rendus à la ZICO de Riverton Sandy Bar pour y passer une belle matinée d’automne à observer les oiseaux et à arracher des plantes invasives. Voici le compte rendu d’Alyssa de cette journée bien réussie.

Les bénévoles éloignés socialement avec quelques sacs de mauvaises herbes arrachées (les autres sacs sont en arrière-plan) à la fin de la journée. Il manque Ann, Jock, Peter et Jessica à la photo. Merci à tous!

Le matin a débuté en partageant du café et des collations dans le stationnement pendant que nous attendions que tout le monde arrive. Amanda, supposant que la matinée serait froide, avait amené suffisamment de café pour dix personnes. C’était peut-être une ruse afin d’encourager tout le monde à devenir des machines désherbeuses?!?

Par la suite, nous avons marché les quelques 1,5 km qui nous séparaient de notre destination. Même avec l’automne déjà bien avancé, les plantes invasives semblaient tout aussi vertes et en santé que d’habitude. Le groupe s’est attaqué aux zones qui seraient les plus favorables pour la nidification des limicoles. Les plants de trèfles, de bardanes et de potentilles étaient très abondants à notre arrivée (mais elles ne l’étaient plus à notre départ!). Ce n’est pas à tous les jours que la restauration d’habitat passe par le désherbage d’une région, mais en arrachant ces plantes invasives, nous espérons recréer les plages sablonneuses tant désirées par certaines espèces de limicoles et de sternes. Le pluvier siffleur, par exemple, est une espèce en péril qui nichait historiquement dans cette ZICO. Malgré le fait que cette espèce n’aie pas été vue à Sandy Bar depuis 2004, elle a niché dans un endroit tenu secret au Manitoba en 2016. Nos efforts continus contribueront peut-être à son retour.

Vers midi, l’équipe a pris une pause bien méritée et s’est dirigée vers la langue de sable à la recherche d’oiseaux de rivage. Nous avons observé une grande variété de limicoles, de sauvagine et quelques oiseaux migrateurs. Les parulines à croupion jaune avaient de toute évidence commencé leur migration vers le sud car elles étaient l’une des espèces les plus abondantes de la journée (surpassées seulement par plus de 600 bernaches du Canada). D’autres observations notables étaient celles d’une oie de Ross et d’une oie rieuse. Nous avons eu la chance de voir une quinzaine de bécasseaux sanderling s’aventurer tout près de notre groupe. Ils étaient bien distraits par la bonne bouffe.

Les bécasseaux sanderling étaient trop occupés à chercher de la nourriture pour remarquer notre présence. Droit d’auteur d’A. Shave.

Comme vous le savez, l’identification des limicoles en automne peut être tout un défi. Toutefois, certains oiseaux étaient très coopératifs et se tenaient côte à côte avec d’autres espèces, ce qui nous permettait une comparaison directe. En les voyant ensemble, nous pouvions comparer les traits délicats du pluvier doré avec les traits trapus et les aisselles noires du pluvier argenté.

Joanne, Christian, Jock et Peter profitant des limicoles lors d’une pause du désherbage. Droit d’auteur d’A. Shave

Des personnes sont arrivées à différents temps tout au long de la journée, pour un total de 10 désherbeurs. Ensemble nous avons bien rempli un peu plus de 20 sacs de mauvaises herbes, soit environ deux sacs par personne!

Peter, Christian et Jessica arrachant des plantes invasives. Droit d’auteur d’A. Shave
Lynnea et Adam arrachant des plantes invasives. Droit d’auteur d’A. Shave

Nous aimerions remercier Anne, Jessica, Peter, Jock, Lynnea, Adam, Joanne et Christian pour s’être joints à notre événement de désherbage annuel! Nous avons hâte à nos futurs événements de désherbage en 2021, donc restez à l’écoute.

Merci à Christian pour la liste des espèces de la journée.

Oie des neiges40
Oie de Ross1
Oie rieuse1
Bernache de Hutchins2
Bernache du Canada650
Canard colvert55
Sarcelle d’hiver4
Fuligule à collier2
Grèbe esclavon2
Pluvier argenté6
Pluvier doré12
Pluvier semipalmé2
Bécasseau sanderling43
Bécasseau variable1
Bécasseau à poitrine cendrée2
Grand chevalier15
Mouette de Bonaparte16
Goéland à bec cerclé50
Goéland argenté50
Cormoran à aigrettes25
Pélican d’Amérique9
Butor d’Amérique1
Pygargue à tête blanche2
Faucon émérillon1
Grand corbeau3
Mésange à tête noire3
Troglodyte des marais1
Merle d’Amérique3
Pipit d’Amérique30
Plectrophane lapon20
Bruant fauve1
Junco ardoisé5
Bruant à couronne blanche2
Bruant à face noire1
Bruant à gorge blanche3
Bruant des prés5
Quiscale bronzé3
Paruline des ruisseaux1
Paruline masquée2
Paruline à couronne rousse3
Paruline à croupion jaune90

Oak Lake IBA – Red-Headed Woodpecker Blitz

On August 15th we had our second IBA Blitz of the year. Volunteers travelled out to the Oak Lake/ Plum Lakes IBA in search of Red-headed Wooodpeckers.

The day started off early for several volunteers making the trip from Winnipeg to Virden area! We also had a couple of volunteers from the Brandon area join us in surveying a large section of the IBA. The weather started out wonderful for birding – we avoided the early morning rain as well as the strong afternoon winds! Our volunteers split into 3 groups for the day so that we could cover the largest area possible.

Group 1 comprised of the IBA staff (Amanda, Nate and Alyssa). We had a blackbird-happy day and our species with the highest counts were Red-winged Blackbirds, Common Grackles, Brown-headed Cowbirds, and Yellow-headed Blackbirds. We also saw 9 Eastern Wood-Pewees throughout the day.

There was a Red-headed Woodpecker here a minute ago! Habitat where Group 1 saw an adult and juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker. Copyright A. Shave.

Group 2 included Gillian, Roger and Heather. Group 2 became our most successful “shorebirders” of the day and saw many Lesser Yellowlegs, Red-necked Grebes, Marbled Godwits, and Stilt Sandpipers. They were also lucky enough to see several White-faced Ibises. They saw our most abundant species of the day -­ Franklin’s Gulls – with a count of around 2000 individuals!

Group 3 included Glennis, Cam, Paul and Lynn. Group 3 saw a large flock of nearly 30 Cedar Waxwings. Other exciting finds were a Broad-winged Hawk, Purple Martins, and a pair of Lark Sparrows.

And now on to the the Red-headed Woodpeckers! Group 2 saw the largest number of Red-headed Woodpeckers by far, with a total of nine seen, all in or around sites that were identified by blitz volunteers last year. Group 1 saw two Red-header Woodpeckers (an adult and a juvenile) together, also hanging out in an area where they had been previously seen. Despite driving through what we would expect to be good Red-headed Woodpecker habitat, Group 3 did not see any of the species. The area Group 3 was surveying was new to our Red-headed Woodpecker Blitz this year, and we now have valuable ground truthing of the possible habitat north of the Trans-Canada Highway in the Oak Lake IBA. All together we found Red-headed Woodpeckers at 6 points within the IBA and possible breeding pairs were detected at 4 points. We had a total count of 10 adults and 1 juvenile for the day.

To everyone who came out thanks for the great day and all your hard work! Collectively we saw 73 species and 3182 individual birds! Our full species list is below.

Species NameTotal
Canada Goose8
Wood Duck1
Blue-winged Teal41
Lesser Scaup1
Red-necked Grebe7
Mourning Dove74
American Coot10
Marbled Godwit5
Stilt Sandpiper4
Least Sandpiper8
Greater Yellowlegs5
Lesser Yellowlegs51
Franklin’s Gull2000
Black Tern1
Double-crested Cormorant1
Great Blue Heron8
White-faced Ibis7
Turkey Vulture2
Accipiter spp.2
Broad-winged Hawk1
Swainson’s Hawk1
Red-tailed Hawk25
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker14
Red-headed Woodpecker11
Downy Woodpecker3
Hairy Woodpecker2
Pileated Woodpecker1
Northern Flicker12
American Kestrel4
Eastern Wood-Pewee15
Eastern Phoebe3
Least Flycatcher9
Great Crested Flycatcher2
Western Kingbird13
Eastern Kingbird46
Blue-headed Vireo1
Red-eyed Vireo10
Blue Jay2
Black-billed Magpie16
American Crow25
Common Raven5
Black-capped Chickadee11
Purple Martin2
Tree Swallow12
Bank Swallow8
Barn Swallow28
Cliff Swallow20
European Starling8
Gray Catbird8
Brown Thrasher1
Eastern Bluebird5
American Robin17
Cedar Waxwing53
House Sparrow10
American Goldfinch52
Chipping Sparrow2
Clay-colored Sparrow6
Lark Sparrow2
Vesper Sparrow5
Song Sparrow2
Yellow-headed Blackbird40
Western Meadowlark23
Baltimore Oriole6
Red-winged Blackbird145
Brown-headed Cowbird54
Brewer’s Blackbird7
Common Grackle63
Yellow Warbler5

Manitoba’s First Shorebird Scrape

La version français suit…

Exciting news came out of Oak Hammock Marsh last week with the construction finishing on Manitoba’s first shorebird scrape at the Wildlife Management Area.

The new shorebird scrape as seen from PR 220. Copyright C. Heald.

What is a scrape you might ask? It is a conservation tool that benefits many species, including shorebirds. A shallow depression is dug into the ground, and this depression is seasonally fed with water. Generally the scrape is wetter in the spring, due to spring rains and drier in the autumn. The shallow depression leads to shallow water, providing good habitat for aquatic invertebrates, and the various animals that feed on them (such as ducks, geese, shorebirds, and amphibians).

Canada Geese enjoying the shorebird scrape. Copyright C. Heald.

Scrapes are a common conservation tool in Europe, but less commonly employed in North America. Luckily, so far we seem to have a successful scrape, with a Lesser Yellowlegs spotted in a photo only two hours of the scrape being completed.

Can you spot the first shorebird visitor to to shorebird scrape? Copyright C. Heald.

If you are interested in visiting the shorebird scrape, you can find it on the southern edge of the pond closest to Provincial Road 220. It is visible from PR 220 or from Duck Pond Trail (with a viewing blind). Manitoba IBA will be at Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre’s Migration Festival on September 26th with spotting scopes, if you are interested in seeing what is out on the scrape. Manitoba IBA would also love to feature photos and bird lists of shorebirds (and other birds!) using the scrape, you can send them to iba@naturemanitoba.ca. There is also a new hotspot set up for the Oak Hammock Marsh – Shorebird Scrape on eBird to help us keep track of species using the scrape (versus the marsh as a whole).

Location of the shorebird scrape at Oak Hammock Marsh WMA

The Shorebird Scrape would not have been possible without funding and support from The Conservation Trust, Nature Manitoba, Province of Manitoba and Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre.

Le premier étrépage de limicoles du Manitoba

La semaine passée, le marais Oak Hammock était heureux d’annoncer la fin de la construction du premier étrépage de limicoles sur son Aire de gestion de la faune au Manitoba.

Le nouvel étrépage de limicoles, vu de la Route provinciale 220. Droit d’auteur de C. Heald

Vous vous demandez peut-être ce qu’est un étrépage? C’est un outil de conservation qui profite à plusieurs espèces, limicoles inclus. Une dépression peu profonde et creusée dans le sol, et cette dépression est alimentée en eau selon les saisons. Règle générale, l’étrépage est plus humide au printemps, à cause des pluies printanières, et plus sec à l’automne. La faible dépression contient une eau peu profonde, et fournit un bon habitat aux invertébrés aquatiques, puis aux divers animaux s’en nourrissant (tels les limicoles et les amphibiens).

Des bernaches du Canada profitent de l’étrépage de limicole. Droit d’auteur de C. Heald.

Les étrépages sont un outil de conservation commun en Europe, mais ils sont utilisés moins fréquemment en Amérique du Nord. Heureusement, notre étrépage semble déjà porter fruit, avec l’observation d’un petit chevalier deux heures seulement après la complétion de l’étrépage.

Pouvez-vous repérer le premier oiseau de rivage à l’étrépage de limicoles? Droit d’auteur de C. Heald.

Si vous voulez visiter l’étrépage à limicoles, vous pouvez le trouver au sud de l’étang le plus près de la route provinciale 220. Il est visible depuis la RP 220 ou du sentier Duck Pond (depuis la cache d’observation). ZICO Manitoba sera présent à la Journée des oiseaux migrateurs du Centre d’interprétation du marais Oak Hammock du 26 septembre et aura des lunettes d’observation disponibles pour les personnes intéressées à découvrir les secrets de l’étrépage. ZICO Manitoba aimerait aussi publier des photos et des listes d’observation de limicoles (et des oiseaux en général) qui fréquente l’étrépage; vous pouvez les envoyer par courriel à iba@naturemanitoba.ca. Il y a également un nouveau site public d’observation de l’étrépage avec eBird, « Oak Hammock Marsh – Shorebird Scrape », qui nous permettra de faire le suivi des espèces utilisant l’étrépage (versus le marais dans son entier).

Site de l’étrépage de limicoles de l’AGF du marais Oak Hammock

L’étrépage de limicoles n’aurait pu être réalisé sans l’aide financière et l’appui de The Conservation Trust, de Nature Manitoba, de la Province du Manitoba et du Centre d’interprétation du marais Oak Hammock.

North, East and West Shoal Lakes Blitz

On August 8th we had our first IBA Blitz of the year (much later than normal of course, but better late than never!). Volunteers went out in the North, East and West Shoal Lakes IBA in search of Red-headed Woodpeckers.

Red-headed Woodpecker. Copyright R. Mooi

The day started off with perfect weather for our 15-member blitz crew to survey for birds! We surveyed a large area of the IBA, as well as outside the IBA northeast of Inwood.

IBA group survey areas. Groups 1-5 are in the Shoal Lakes IBA, while Group 6 surveyed outside the IBA where Red-headed Woodpeckers have been spotted in the past. Copyright Manitoba IBA.

The IBA appeared much drier than in previous years and many marsh areas looked a lot more like dried ground with no water in sight! However, the low water level was a boon for groups that surveyed the edges of the Shoal Lakes, as a variety of shorebirds were using the shallow water and mud flats left over. No individual shorebird had a huge number of individuals (although there were 107 Greater Yellowlegs and 191 Lesser Yellowlegs) but we had a good number of different shorebird species at 13.

American Avocet. Copyright K. Schulz.
Mixed flock of shorebirds. Copyright R. Mooi.

A large number of Great Egrets were also spotted (55 individuals). Some folks were lucky enough to even see a Black-crowned Night-heron, which has overwise proven illusive this summer. Amanda and Alyssa surveyed an area outside the IBA (prior years with good Red-headed Woodpecker habitat) and ended up with a fairly large gathering of Franklin’s Gulls (744 individuals).

A Great Egret impersonating a Red-headed Woodpecker. Copyright K. Schulz.

Now to our focal species – Red-headed Woodpeckers. The species was abundant in this IBA, although surveying success seemed different than surveys in past years that occurred earlier in the year. Some groups found that without playback detection of Red-headed Woodpeckers was unlikely. Birds did, however, seem to respond to playback and call back or appear out from behind trees. Other groups did not experience the same thing and either saw birds without playback or found that the birds did not react to playback at all! The variation in experiences between groups was interesting.

 We found Red-headed Woodpeckers at points all across the IBA, as well as an area to the northeast of the IBA surveyed due to high numbers seen there last year. Each group was lucky enough to detect at least one Red-headed Woodpecker, and we had a day total count of 20 individuals.

Red-headed Woodpecker seen by Amanda and Alyssa in a much leafy-er habitat than expected. Copyright A. Shave

Despite the delayed time of year, we had a successful day in the Shoal Lakes IBA. Thank you again to all the volunteers that came out: Jo, Bonnie, Peter, Doreen, Katherine and John, Matt, Garry, Rudolf, John, Randy and Odette who joined Amanda, Alyssa and Nate on this blitz. Your dedication to birding and conservation is always appreciated and helps our feathered friends within Manitoba!

Our volunteers enjoying a socially distanced meet up and snacks. Copyright R. Mooi

Our full bird count is below.

Species NameInside IBAOutside IBATOTAL
Canada Goose90 090
Trumpeter Swan101
Wood Duck1 01
Blue-winged Teal235 0235
Northern Shoveler 12214
Mallard347 0347
Green-winged Teal16117
Ring-necked Duck1 01
Common Goldeneye202
Northern Pintail900
Duck spp30030
Hooded Merganser3 03
Sharp-tailed Grouse3 03
Pied-billed Grebe3 03
Western Grebe30 030
American Coot202
Belted Kingfisher101
Rock Pigeon426
Mourning Dove35136
Ruby-throated Hummingbird5 05
American Coot22
Sandhill Crane672188
American Avocet606
Baird’s Sandpiper303
Killdeer46 046
Marbled Godwit5 05
Pectoral Sandpiper9 09
Wilson’s Snipe14 014
Spotted Sandpiper1 01
Solitary Sandpiper17522
Least Sandpiper707
Stilt Sandpiper909
Greater Yellowlegs1073110
Lesser Yellowlegs191 0191
Tringa spp10010
Peep spp20020
Wilson’s Phalarope808
Bonaparte’s Gull101
Franklin’s Gull173744917
Herring Gull202
Ring-billed Gull12246168
Gull spp15015
Black Tern17 017
Common Tern14014
Forester’s Tern101
Double-crested Cormorant88
American White Pelican957102
American Bittern101
Black-crowned Night Heron101
Great Blue Heron7 07
Great Egret55 055
Turkey Vulture314
Northern Harrier4 04
Sharp-shinned Hawk1 01
Cooper’s Hawk1 01
Bald Eagle7 07
Red-tailed Hawk14317
Broad-winged Hawk202
Peregrine Falcon101
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker11 011
Red-headed Woodpecker13720
Downy Woodpecker7 07
Hairy Woodpecker101
Pileated Woodpecker6 06
Northern Flicker729
American Kestrel27229
Eastern Wood-Pewee11213
Eastern Phoebe77
Alder Flycatcher404
Least Flycatcher19625
Great Crested Flycatcher8 08
Eastern Kingbird9819117
Blue-headed Vireo202
Warbling Vireo15 015
Red-eyed Vireo27330
Blue Jay14115
Black-billed Magpie24125
American Crow401050
Common Raven13316
Black-capped Chickadee10111
Horned Lark 123
Purple Martin 123
Cliff Swallow303
Tree Swallow52 052
Bank Swallow101
Barn Swallow79685
Northern Rough-winged Swallow101
House Wren4 04
Sedge Wren20222
Marsh Wren505
European Starling73 073
Gray Catbird16117
Brown Thrasher3 03
Eastern Bluebird2020
American Robin50858
Cedar Waxwing83891
American Goldfinch9914113
Chipping Sparrow14
Clay-colored Sparrow68169
Vesper Sparrow1 01
Savannah Sparrow31 031
Song Sparrow39544
Swamp Sparrow303
Yellow-headed Blackbird88
Western Meadowlark60 060
Baltimore Oriole15116
Red-winged Blackbird3129321
Brown-headed Cowbird16 016
Brewer’s Blackbird38 038
Common Grackle132132
Black-and-white Warbler 112
Chestnut-sided Warbler101
Tennessee Warbler1 01
Nashville Warbler1 01
Common Yellowthroat6 06
Yellow Warbler21223
Rose-breasted Grosbeak6 06
White-breasted Nuthatch404
House Sparrow18018

September Events at Manitoba IBA

Shorebird Webinar – Nature Conservancy Canada (NCC) with Manitoba IBA: Hear about migration stories of shorebirds in Manitoba track with MOTUS Wildlife Tracking Technology, discover about citizen science opportunities with the International Shorebird Survey, and learn tips and techniques for counting shorebirds. September 22, more details to come.

Flock of short-billed dowitchers. Copyright C. Artuso

Migration Days: Manitoba IBA will also be at Migration Day at Oak Hammock Marsh on September 26th starting at 8:00am. Don’t miss a variety of IBA events including:

8:00am Birding walk – Registration Required

11:00 am Birding walk – Registration Required

Spotting Scopes set up on the NEW shorebird scrape – No registration required.

Newly constructed Shorebird Scrape at Oak Hammock Marsh. Copyright P. Grieef.

Upcoming Activities

As we head into migration season, Manitoba IBA has a variety of activities planned and in the works:

We will be venturing out to Oak Lake/ Plum Lakes on Saturday, August 15th at 8:30 am to once again search the IBA for Redheaded Woodpeckers before they head off on migration. I am sure we will also be seeing many other species – as experienced by our recent Shoal Lakes Bird Blitz (stay tuned for our blitz summary).

Oak Lakes RHWO Blitz Poster

We will also be holding a blitz focused on shorebirds and waterbirds at Whitewater Lake IBA on Saturday, August 29th at 9:00 am. Whitewater Lake is a premier spot to see migrating shorebirds in Manitoba.

WWL Blitz Poster

Last but not least, we will be holding another webinar on Wednesday, August 26th at 1:00 pm on identifying our “fall warblers” found in Manitoba. Hopefully this webinar “falls” right in the middle of warbler migration this year so that you can test out your new-found skills. If you have any suggestions for future Manitoba IBA webinars we’d love to hear from you at iba@naturemanitoba.ca!

IBA Manitoba Fall Warblers Poster

Manitoba IBA’s First Bird Blitz of 2020

Shoal Lakes Bird Blitz Poster

We are excited to be hosting our first bird blitz of 2020! Normally I would have written that first sentence in May, but better late than never in this crazy year. We will be on the lookout for Red Headed Woodpeckers, which have been seen here in 2018 and 2019.

Due to the physical distancing with COVID-19 we may need to limit attendance (depending on sign-up numbers), so please sign up early if you are interested. We will also be asking attendees to only carpool with others within their social distancing bubbles, and carpool caravan will go out along routes. For registration, or if you have any questions or concerns please send me an email at iba@naturemanitoba.ca.

Stay tuned for more upcoming IBA events!


Grassland Bird Surveys in Southwestern Manitoba

From June 15th to June 25th Nate and I headed out to southwestern Manitoba to conduct grassland bird surveys in the Poverty Plains, Lyleton Grasslands, Blind Souris River Valley, Oak Lake Grasslands and Hartney regions. Many of these areas overlap with the Southwestern Manitoba Mixed Grass Prairie IBA or the Oak Lake/ Plum Lake IBA.


Grassland in the Broomhill area. Photo by Amanda Shave.

We surveyed areas of primarily native grassland (and some pieces of tame grassland) used by cattle producers in Manitoba. We were looking primarily for bird species that use the grassland, particularly Species at Risk. These species include the Chestnut-collared Longspur, Bobolink, Baird’s Sparrow, Sprague’s Pipet, Ferruginous Hawk, Burrowing Owl, Loggerhead Shrike and Grasshopper Sparrow. All of these species were seen, in addition to many more!

Survey mornings started early, with Nate and I arriving at the survey sites at sunrise, and we would survey until 10:00 am (weather permitting). The survey methods for grassland bird surveys included a series of point counts. Every 300-400 metres we would take a GPS reading and stand in one place for 5 minutes surveying by sight and sound in all directions. All species observed are recorded, and the distance, direction and Breeding Bird Atlas breeding code recorded for each Species at Risk. While traveling between point count sites, Species at Risk were recorded if seen incidentally, and their location marked with a GPS point. The number of point counts differed depending on the size of the land parcel surveyed, and the habitat it contains. In addition to being 300-400 meters away from each other point count, they are also at least 100 meters from fence lines to try and capture grassland birds, as opposed to species that are using marginal habitat along roadways.

We also had the chance to speak with some of the landowners in the area, who were both knowledgeable and interested about the bird species that can be found on their land. They were very interested in the bird surveys we were doing, and how the management of cattle on their pastures can impact bird habitat.

Spence NW 18 photo 2

Cattle on the land in the Blind Souris area. Photo by Amanda Shave.

Non-target species that were some trip highlights included Orchard Orioles, a Say’s Phoebe, some up close Coyote encounters, Mule Deer, and a great variety of wildflowers and grasses. Native grasslands in Manitoba have a particular beauty that is more subtle than that of a mountain or ocean view, but I would argue that the need to look and listen closely makes it all the more special as you bird in this unique part of Manitoba.