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Location Canada, Alberta
Central coordinates 110o 28.25' West  52o 9.58' North
IBA criteria A4i, A4iii
Area 5,300 ha
Altitude 655 - 663m
Year of IBA assessment 2008

Bird Studies Canada/Nature Canada



Site description Sounding Lake is located in southern Alberta about 20 km northeast of Consort and 23 km southwest of Provost. There are a number of minor roads through the area, but no direct lake access. Sounding Lake, and Greenlee Lake to the north (which is part of the site), are alkali lakes that are dry in drought years. Habitat types include upland fescue and porcupine grass communities interspersed with aspen groves. The lake is fed by Sounding Creek and drains into Eyehill Creek. Upland areas are important for White-tailed Deer and Mule Deer and the site is the only known location in Alberta for the Round-leaf Monkeyflower.

Key Biodiversity In spring and fall, Sounding Lake can support extremely large numbers of several migrating shorebird species. Based on rough population estimates, species with globally significant numbers during spring migration include: Stilt Sandpiper with 7,000 individuals (up to 7% of the world population), Bairds Sandpiper with 11,000 individuals (up to 8% of the world population), and Sanderling with 3,000 individuals (about 1% of the world population). A high count of 11,480 Lesser Yellowlegs during fall migration is over 1% of the worlds population. Also, as many as 900 American Avocets have been counted in fall, which is approximately 1.5% of the national population. Globally significant congregations of shorebirds have also been recorded: 55,803 staging shorebirds and 13,532 yellowlegs were seen in spring, 1987, and over 20,000 peeps have been seen in fall (unknown year). It should be noted that water levels, and thus habitat conditions, vary from year to year and shorebird numbers can be quite variable. Most of these numbers are from the mid-eighties as no 1990s information is available.

In 1995 and 1996, there were seven and four nationally endangered Piping Plovers, respectively, present at the site. The population reached a maximum size of 18 individual birds (4 or more pairs) in 1986.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes passage  1985  11,480 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Sanderling Calidris alba passage  1985  3,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Baird's Sandpiper Calidris bairdii passage  1985  11,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds passage  1987  20,000-49,999 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest Temperate deciduous woods  -
Grassland Steppe & dry calcareous grassland  -
Wetlands (inland) Intertidal mud, sand or salt flats; Saline/alkaline lakes  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
rangeland/pastureland major

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Sounding Lake. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 18/12/2014

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