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Location Canada, Manitoba
Central coordinates 97o 39.02' West  50o 20.46' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4iii
Area 21,000 ha
Year of IBA assessment 2008

Bird Studies Canada/Nature Canada

Site description North, West, and East Shoal lakes are located in the southern part of the Interlake region of Manitoba. The area used to consist of one lake, but in 1912 when the Wagon Creek drain was constructed, the water level fell four to five metres. The lakes are alkaline and contain a number of islands. There are some rocky areas around these lakes and the country surrounding them is generally cattle pasture and is extremely flat. The flat terrain means that fluctuations in water levels significantly affect the presence of different habitats.

Key Biodiversity The North, West and East Shoal Lakes are highly significant for enormous congregations of migrating waterfowl and high numbers of nesting pelicans, grebes and plovers. As much as 2.3% (1,935 nests) of the estimated global American White Pelican population was recorded at this site. Another significant breeder is the globally vulnerable and nationally endangered Piping Plover. Over six years, between 1985 and 1996 an average of 46 plovers have been recorded in West Shoal Lake (26 in 1996). This average is approximately 1.5% of the Great Plains population.

During the fall migration, vast flocks of Canada Geese and Lesser Snow Geese are observed. Peak one day counts have recorded as many as 100,000 Canada Geese, representing a staggering 30% of the estimated Tall Grass Prairie Canada Goose population and about 200,000 Lesser Snow Geese, representing approximately 6.6% of the estimated Mid-Continental Lesser Snow Goose population. Other waterfowl numbers recorded include over 50,000 ducks of mixed species that were observed on several single day counts. Mallard, Blue-winged Teal, Gadwall, and Tundra Swan are amongst the species present.

Other birds that have been known to breed at this site in small numbers include: Western Grebe (400 nests in 1979), Ring-billed Gull (450 nests in 1986), Herring Gull (232 nests in 1979), Black-crowned Night-Heron (6 nests), Eared Grebe (500 nests), Common Tern (40 nests in 1986), Double-crested Cormorants (263 nests in 1986), Willet and American Avocet.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Snow Goose Anser caerulescens passage  1995  200,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Canada Goose Branta canadensis passage  1995  100,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
American White Pelican Pelecanus erythrorhynchos breeding  1986  1,935 nests  A4i  Least Concern 
Piping Plover Charadrius melodus breeding  1994  67 individuals  A1, A4i  Near Threatened 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds passage  1995  100,000-499,999 individuals  unknown  A4iii   


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest   -
Shrubland Scrub  -
Grassland Edaphic grassland; Steppe & dry calcareous grassland  -
Wetlands (inland) Freshwater marshes/swamps; Rivers  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture major
nature conservation and research major
hunting major
rangeland/pastureland major

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: North, West, and East Shoal Lakes. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016

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