Conservation Champions Program

Manitoba is home to many different bird Species at Risk. Species at Risk have populations that are declining and are threatened by a combination of factors, and often one of these factors is habitat loss. These Species at Risk require research and conservation in order for these species to begin to thrive once again.

What is the Conservation Champions Program?

Living and working on the land is essential to many people, and we know that much of the habitat for bird Species at Risk occurs on working landscapes stewarded by landowners. The Conservation Champions program is a voluntary stewardship program to reward landowners who protect habitat for Species at Risk.

We also undertake roadside surveys to track populations of Species at Risk through citizen science monitoring, as well as providing outreach to landowners, community groups and schools in areas where our Spotlight Species occur. We work in and around Important Bird Areas in Manitoba.

Conservation Champions gate sign

How Does the Program Work?

  • Land with our spotlight species is eligible. If you are unsure about the species or habitat on your land, we would be interested in hearing from you.
  • No land use or management changes are necessary. If you already have these species and habitat on your land you are doing a good job!
  • Program participants sign a 5-year non-binding agreement to keep or improve their habitat management.
  • No minimum habitat size is required.

Benefits to Landowners

  • Recognition of your commitment with a free personalized gate sign.
  • Optional free bird survey by a program ornithologist with a personalized bird report.
  • Optional recommendations to improve habitat for Species at Risk.
  • Joining a community of like-minded landowners.
  • Helping to maintain healthy ecosystems and bird populations on working landscapes.

Spotlight Species – Red-headed Woodpecker

The Red-headed Woodpecker. Photo by: C. Artuso.

The charismatic Red-headed Woodpecker certainly turns heads! Unfortunately this beautiful bird has declined by more than 2% a year from 1966 to 2014, with a cumulative decline of 70% of its population according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey.

The Red-headed Woodpecker can be identified by its entirely ruby-red head, and black and white back and wings. They are territorial with a “tcher” call that can be repeated with frequency.

Example of Red-headed Woodpecker habitat. Note the standing dead trees and the lack of brush or understory vegetation. Photo by K. Schulz.

The Red-headed Woodpecker nests in standing dead trees (usually aspens) in heavily grazed woodlots or pastureland with little understory or shrub cover.

Red-headed Woodpecker Fact Sheet

Fiche d’information sur le pic à tête rouge

Spotlight Species – Eastern Whip-poor-will

Made famous in folk songs, poems and literature for their endless chanting on summer nights, Eastern Whip-poor-wills are easy to hear but hard to see. They are most active at dawn and dusk, and moonlight nights as they venture out to catch their fill of insect prey. This nocturnal bird has declined by almost 3% a year between 1966 and 2015, a cumulative decline of almost 75% during that time according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey.

While they are roosting during the day Eastern Whip-poor-will are difficult to see, as their grey-brown patterned plumage camouflages them with tree bark and leaf litter. They are much easily to identify during the night when you hear their distinct “whip-poor-will” song.

Eastern Whip-poor-will during the daytime. It is much more common to hear them at night, than to see these elusive birds during the day. Photo by C. Artuso.

Eastern Whip-poor-will habitat includes nesting areas of semi-open or patchy forests with clearings. They prefer areas with little underbrush or understory vegetation. They use nearby shrubby pastureland or wetlands to feed.

Eastern Whip-poor-will nest on ground, often in shallow depressions created from leaf litter, in semi-open or patchy forests. Photo from the Ontario Eastern Whip-poor-will Recovery Strategy.

Eastern Whip-poor-will Fact Sheet

Fiche d’information sur l’engoulevent bois-pourri

Contact and More Information

For more information, or to sign up for the program contact Marissa, the Manitoba IBA Program Coordinator at or 204-943-9029.

You can find our program brochure here.