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Location Canada, Saskatchewan
Central coordinates 109o 13.84' West  50o 11.46' North
IBA criteria A4iii
Area 78,000 ha
Altitude 690 - 775m
Year of IBA assessment 2008

Bird Studies Canada/Nature Canada

Site description Bigstick Lake Plain encompasses a large part of the southern slopes of the Great Sand Hills of southwestern Saskatchewan. The closest towns are Fox Valley to the northwest and Tompkins to the southeast. This semi-arid plain includes the large saline lakes, Bigstick (4,300 ha), Crane (2,500 ha) and Ingebright (390 ha), as well as extensive grasslands. Much of this grassland is native mixed-grass prairie. Mason Lake, a reservoir that forms the west section of Ingebrigt Lake, has more stable water levels and is less saline than the rest of the lake. Ducks Unlimited has two projects in the area; one lies just to the northwest of Ingebright Lake, and the other is on the west shore of Bigstick Lake. The latter project consists of a restriction dam that was built in 1974 and produces a 100-200 ha marsh.

Key Biodiversity This lake plain area is a significant site because several types of waterbirds congregate at the lakes in abundance. About 16,000 waterfowl have used Bigstick and Crane lakes during their fall migration. Also, over 7,000 Franklins Gull also stage here - this is over 1% of the global population.

Several other bird species make use of these lakes and grasslands during the breeding season. Of particular note are small numbers of: Ferruginous Hawks (Special Concern species), Piping Plovers and Burrowing Owls (both nationally endangered). The most recent Piping Plovers (two in 1991) were found at Ingebrigt Lake, but in the past this species was also found at the other two lakes. At Ingebrigt Lake, up to 1,717 staging Wilsons Phalarope have been seen. Also, Eared Grebe, Black-crowned Night-Heron (25-30 pairs, early 1980s), California Gull, Ring-billed Gull and Lark Bunting breed in the Bigstick Lake area. Crane Lake used to support colonies of American White Pelicans, Double-crested Cormorants, California Gulls and Common Terns.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
A4iii Species group - waterbirds non-breeding  1995  20,000-49,999 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Big Stick Community Pasture 10,242 protected area overlaps with site 6,700  
Prairie (Units #1 - #27) National Wildlife Area 262 protected area overlaps with site 66  
Tompkins Community Pasture 451 protected area overlaps with site 180  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Grassland Steppe & dry calcareous grassland  30%
Wetlands (inland) Saline/alkaline lakes  60%
Artificial - terrestrial Arable land  10%

Land use

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

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Bigstick Lake Plain. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016

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