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Location Canada, Manitoba
Central coordinates 96o 56.42' West  50o 21.06' North
IBA criteria A4i, A4iii
Area 33,000 ha
Altitude 217 - 230m
Year of IBA assessment 2008

Bird Studies Canada/Nature Canada

Site description Netley-Libau Marsh is situated at the south end of Lake Winnipeg, where the Red River branches several times and empties into the lake. Wave action on Lake Winnipeg, particularly due to strong wind-assisted tides, has produced a small beach ridge at the lakes south end, which acts as a barrier separating parts of Netley-Libau Marsh from the lake. The Red River is an important force of change in the large network of wetlands found here. Due to its history of frequent flooding, the route of the main channel of the river has changed numerous times. The area is very flat, and consists of many small bodies of water connected by channels and is interlaced with fingers of grassland, trees and shrubs.

Key Biodiversity Netley-Libau Marsh is best known for its tremendous concentrations of southward-migrating birds. Numbers of geese and ducks on some occasions exceed 100,000 during fall migration. A little earlier in the year, at least 25,000 moulting ducks are found in the area. Red-winged and Yellow-headed blackbirds congregate here in late autumn in numbers exceeding 100,000. As well, at the beginning of the fall migration in August, swallows are found here in the thousands.

In addition to the numerous species that stopover at the site during fall migration, several bird species breed at this site in significant numbers. Franklins Gulls nest in large colonies within the marsh, in numbers exceeding 4,500 pairs. This represents at least 1.3% of the North American population, based on upper level population estimates. In the late 1970s, 325 Forsters Tern nests were recorded in the marsh (about 1.5% of the global population). In addition, over 100 pairs of Black-crowned Night-Herons have been observed nesting in the marsh, which account for 2% of the estimated national population. Species that breed in large, though not significant numbers at the site include the Eared Grebe (100+ pairs) and the Western Grebe (125+ pairs). At least twelve species of ducks breed here mostly dabbling ducks.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Franklin's Gull Larus pipixcan breeding  1999  4,500 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds passage  1995  50,000-99,999 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Libau Community Pasture 1,495 protected area overlaps with site 540  
Libau Provincial Fauna Reserve 402 protected area overlaps with site 550  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest Temperate deciduous woods  -
Shrubland Scrub  -
Grassland Edaphic grassland; Steppe & dry calcareous grassland  -
Wetlands (inland) Freshwater lakes and pools; Freshwater marshes/swamps; Rivers  -
Artificial - terrestrial Urban and industrial areas  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research minor
fisheries/aquaculture major
hunting minor
tourism/recreation minor

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Netley-Libau Marsh. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016

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