email a friend
printable version
Location Canada, Alberta
Central coordinates 113o 15.12' West  55o 48.09' North
IBA criteria A4i
Area 5,300 ha
Altitude 564 m
Year of IBA assessment 2008

Bird Studies Canada/Nature Canada

Site description Pelican Lake is located at the eastern end of the Wabasca Lakes chain, 21 km east of the town of Sandy Lake, in northern Alberta. Pelican Lake is a permanent boreal lake that is surrounded by boggy wetlands. Two islands within the lake host breeding birds. The lake is situated in a relatively remote location.

Key Biodiversity A globally significant number of American White Pelicans breed on two islands within Pelican Lake. In 1998, 2,108 young and in 2000, 1,660 young were recorded in the colony. Since pelicans lay a two-egg clutch, these numbers translate to a minimum of 1,054 and 830 pairs. These are minimum estimates because it assumes that all birds successfully hatched two young. This number of pairs is probably about 1% of the global population of the species, and the colony is the second largest in the province. The pelicans use nearby lakes, such as Sandy Lake, north and south Wabasca lakes and others to the west for feeding.

Several other colonial waterbird species breed on the islands. In both 1998 and 2000 there were just over 1,000 Double-crested Cormorant nests on the islands. This is one of largest cormorant colonies in the province. In 1967, the California Gull population at Pelican Lake was estimated at 100-500 pairs, and in 2000, 297 nests were counted. In recent years between about 80 and 200 Ring-billed Gull and 35 Common Tern nests were recorded.

In 1978, 57 Great Blue Heron nests were built in the trees, but since then many of the trees have died and fallen down from accumulations of droppings and bird trampling. Herons have been absent since at least 1998 because of this.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
American White Pelican Pelecanus erythrorhynchos breeding  1998  1,000 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Wetlands (inland) Freshwater lakes and pools; Large lake inlets & coastal features  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
not utilised -

Contribute  Please click here to help BirdLife conserve the world's birds - your data for this IBA and others are vital for helping protect the environment.

Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Pelican Lake (Alberta). Downloaded from on 27/10/2016

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife