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Location Canada, Manitoba
Central coordinates 99o 30.02' West  52o 51.06' North
IBA criteria A4i, A4iii
Area 14,000 ha
Altitude 259 - 264m
Year of IBA assessment 2008

Bird Studies Canada/Nature Canada

Site description Kaweenakumik Lake is located southwest of the town of Grand Rapids, in central Manitoba. A short distance to the west is Lake Winnipegosis and to the north is Cedar Lake, which is the storage basin for the Grand Rapids dam. This site is a freshwater lake with several islands of varying shapes located in its southern half. Some of the islands are small, rugged and rocky and largely devoid of any trees or shrubs, while others are large islands with little relief and substantial tree and shrub cover. The islands are important calving sites for Caribou.

Key Biodiversity The islands in Kaweenakumik Lake contain impressive colonies of colonially nesting birds. This is one of the largest congregations of breeding American White Pelicans in Canada. In the 1980s, an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 pairs bred here. One count from 1986 recorded 3105 nests, but it is not known if this is a full or partial count. Nonetheless the numbers of pelicans found here probably represent about 5% of the global population of this species.

At least 1,000 pairs of Common Terns (roughly 1% of the estimated North American population) were estimated to breed on the islands in the 1980s. A 1979 count recorded 400 pairs. Again, this may be a partial count, the tern numbers may have increased, or the first estimate is an overestimate.

Very large numbers of Ring-billed Gulls nest here; the numbers have variously been recorded as: 20,000 pairs in the 1980s, 4,000 nests in 1986, and 12,000 nests in 1979.

The Great Blue Herons nesting here exhibit unique nesting behaviour among Manitoba herons: rather than nesting high atop trees, several of these birds nest on the ground and the most nest about a metre above the ground in shrubs. Between 15 and 26 heron nests have been recorded. White-winged Scoters used to nest more commonly in the province, but the 8 pairs recorded at this site are a remnant population of this species in Manitoba. Other breeding species include: California Gull (30 nests in 1986), Double-crested Cormorant (250 nests in 1986), Herring Gull (7 nests in 1986), Western Grebe and American Avocet.

Parts of the site contain dense submergent aquatic vegetation and consequently support very large numbers of swans, geese and diving ducks during fall migration.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
American White Pelican Pelecanus erythrorhynchos breeding  1995  2,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis breeding  1985  20,000 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds breeding  1985  20,000-49,999 breeding pairs  unknown  A4iii   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Kaweenakumak Islands Ecological Reserve 22 protected area contained by site 68  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest Temperate coniferous forest; Temperate deciduous woods; Temperate mixed woods  -
Grassland Edaphic grassland  -
Wetlands (inland) Freshwater lakes and pools; Rivers  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research major
forestry minor
hunting minor

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Kaweenakumik Lake. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016

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