email a friend
printable version
Location Canada, Saskatchewan
Central coordinates 105o 13.23' West  51o 25.26' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4iii
Area 32,000 ha
Altitude 494 - 503m
Year of IBA assessment 2008

Bird Studies Canada/Nature Canada

Site description Last Mountain Lake National Wildlife Area is located in east-central Saskatchewan, about 120 km southeast of Saskatchewan. The National Wildlife Area (NWA) includes the northern end of Last Mountain Lake, which is characterized by several shallow bays or ?fingers?. Portions of the fingers have been dammed forming several basins. The NWA includes 15,502 ha of lake, marsh, and upland at the north end of the lake. About 54% of the total area is native grasslands, and initiatives are underway to restore more area. Fire and grazing are used to keep existing grassland areas free of shrubs and exotic grasses.

Key Biodiversity The NWA is a major staging area for several species of waterbirds. As many as 30,000 - 40,000 Sandhill Cranes are regularly reported during fall migration. This may represent as much as 6.1 of the global population and 9% of the mid-continent Sandhill Crane population. Large numbers of geese are also present during spring and fall migration, including over 300,000 Snow Geese and over 25,000 Greater White-fronted Geese. Stilt Sandpipers have been seen in globally significant numbers, with 2,669 being seen in 1984 (2.7% of the global population). Marbled Godwits have been recorded in nationally significant numbers, with 657 (6.5% of the Canadian population) seen in 1984. Also, over 1% of the Canadian population of American Avocets has been present during spring migration.

Several species of colonial birds nest within the NWA including nationally significant numbers of Forster?s Terns, and large numbers of American White Pelicans (804 birds), Double-crested Cormorants (2,854 birds), Black Terns (greater than 50 pairs) and Black-crowned Night Herons (greater than 50 pairs).

The northern end of Last Mountain Lake is one of the few areas in Saskatchewan where the globally endangered Whooping Crane occurs on an annual basis as a migrant. Most Whooping Cranes that occur here are early migrant singles or pairs rather than the late migrating family groups that occur elsewhere. Other threatened species that occur here in low numbers include Ferruginous Hawk (one regularly nesting pair), Peregrine Falcon (fairly common migrant), Piping Plover (variable numbers - zero to a few nesting pairs), Caspian Tern (occasional nestings of a pair), Burrowing Owl (former nester, now locally extirpated) and Loggerhead Shrike (a few breeding pairs) Last Mountain Lake Bird Observatory has undertaken intensive landbird migration monitoring on the east side of the lake since 1990. On average, 3,400 birds of 76 species are banded annually. The total number of birds moving through the area is much, much higher since banding occurs in only a small section. The five most abundant species banded are: Yellow-rumped Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Clay-coloured Sparrow, Alder Flycatcher, and Least Flycatcher. The majority of the migrating songbirds are neotropical migrants.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Greater White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons passage  1990  25,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Snow Goose Anser caerulescens passage  1997  300,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Sandhill Crane Antigone canadensis passage  1995  75,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Whooping Crane Grus americana passage  1997  2 individuals  A1  Endangered 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds passage  1990  100,000-499,999 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Last Mountain Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary 476 protected area contained by site 5,400  
Last Mountain Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary 476 protected area contained by site 13,000  
Last Mountain Lake Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 15,602 protected area contained by site 15,602  
Nokomis Community Pasture 5,956 protected area overlaps with site 2,600  
Wreford Community Pasture 5,636 protected area overlaps with site 880  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Shrubland Scrub  -
Grassland Steppe & dry calcareous grassland  54%
Wetlands (inland) Freshwater marshes/swamps; Intertidal mud, sand or salt flats; Saline/alkaline lakes  -
Artificial - terrestrial Arable land; Improved pasture land; Perennial crops, orchards, groves  25%

Land use

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

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: Last Mountain Lake National Wildlife Area. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016

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