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Location Canada, Saskatchewan
Central coordinates 106o 39.63' West  50o 26.46' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4iii
Area 17,000 ha
Altitude 668 - 671m
Year of IBA assessment 2008

Bird Studies Canada/Nature Canada

Site description Chaplin Lake is situated in south central Saskatchewan, near the town of Chaplin. It is a large saline lake approximately 35 km in length and up to 10 km wide (after the Quill Lakes, it is the second largest saline lake in Canada). The lake is divided into four sections by a series of dykes and roads that were constructed as part of a sodium sulphate mine development on the north shore. Extensive marshes are located in the southern half of the lake. Water levels fluctuate considerably, with extensive mudflats becoming exposed during the late spring and summer; during some years the lake may become completely dry by mid-summer.

Key Biodiversity Chaplin Lake supports tremendous numbers of shorebirds, especially during spring migration. One-day aerial surveys in 1987, 1993, and 1994 yielded estimates of 59,773, 73,359, and 55,127 respectively. For 1994, species peak numbers on Chaplin Lake provided a total count of 110,061. One of the most abundant species at this site is Sanderling; although a site specific number is unavailable, (estimates for Chaplin and Old Wives Lake were combined) the average number was 55,471 for both these lakes. This may represent as much as 30% of the estimated North American population. Large numbers of Baird's Sandpipers (29,862 in the spring of 1987 as much as 21% of the world's population), Semipalmated Sandpipers (30,404 in the spring of 1987 and 28,796 in the spring of 1994), and Stilt Sandpiper (4,349 in May, 1993, representing 4.3% of the global population) have also been recorded at Chaplin and Old Wives Lake. Other shorebirds that have been recorded in large numbers at Chaplin Lake include American Avocet (2,685 1994; over 4% of the estimated Canadian population), Red-necked Phalarope (7,755 1994), Wilsons Phalarope (7,100 1984, and 6,192 1994; both approximately 1% of the Canadian population).

Chaplin Lake also supports a significant breeding population of the nationally endangered and globally vulnerable Piping Plover. As many as 205 adults were recorded during the 1996 International Piping Plover Census (about 3.4% of the world's estimated population). Over a three-year period (1996-1998) an average of 169 breeding Piping Plovers were recorded. Burrowing Owls, another nationally endangered species, have also been recorded nesting in the grasslands surrounding the site.

Of additional ornithological interest is the presence of nesting Snowy Plovers in 1987 (2 pairs 1 female appeared to be incubating). Since 1987, this species has been reported on several occasions. This site is one of only three known breeding locations for Snowy Plover in Canada. Also, two species that are nationally vulnerable, the Ferruginous Hawk and the Long-billed Curlew, nest in the surrounding grasslands in small numbers.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Piping Plover Charadrius melodus breeding  1998  173 individuals  A1,A4i  Near Threatened 
Sanderling Calidris alba passage  1994  52,984 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Semipalmated Sandpiper Calidris pusilla passage  1994  28,796 individuals  A4i  Near Threatened 
Baird's Sandpiper Calidris bairdii passage  1994  3,439 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds passage  1987-1994  50,000-99,999 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Shamrock Community Pasture 10,974 protected area overlaps with site 2,900  
Valjean Community Pasture 12,328 protected area overlaps with site 2,600  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Grassland Steppe & dry calcareous grassland  5%
Wetlands (inland) Freshwater marshes/swamps; Saline/alkaline lakes  95%

Land use

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

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Chaplin Lake. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016

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