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Location Canada, Saskatchewan
Central coordinates 106o 1.83' West  50o 36.06' North
IBA criteria A4i, A4iii
Area 21,000 ha
Altitude 570 - 630m
Year of IBA assessment 2008

Bird Studies Canada/Nature Canada

Site description Pelican Lake is located in south central Saskatchewan, near the town of Moose Jaw. The lake is the largest body of water and the farthest downstream in Thunder Creek valley, approximately 26 km southeast of a series of lakes that compose another IBA site the Paysen, Williams, and Kettlehut Lakes area. There is less upland cover surrounding Pelican Lake than in areas farther up the valley, with native prairie covering only 5% of the land within 1 km of the lake. However, the lakes marshes and shorelines provide productive shorebird and waterfowl habitat.

Key Biodiversity Large numbers of shorebirds and waterfowl utilize Pelican Lake during both the spring and fall migration. In particular, large numbers of shorebirds have been recorded with as many as 75,000 being estimated in May 1978 (species not determined). Notable numbers of several shorebird species recorded during other surveys include 2,000 American Avocets (as much as 3% of the estimated Canadian population), 1,000 Marbled Godwits (about 10% of the estimated Canadian population), 1,000 Wilsons Phalarope (possibly as much as 1% of the estimated national population), and 233 Black-bellied Plovers. Tundra Swans are also present in large numbers, with as many as 2,075 birds being recorded during fall migration (about 1% of the North American estimated population).

During the summer, the lake is utilized by moulting waterfowl with over 10,000 ducks having been recorded (Mallard, Gadwall, Blue-winged Teal, and Northern Pintail among others). American White Pelican also concentrate at this lake during the summer with as many as 1,500 birds being recorded (2.7% of the estimated Canadian population). As many as 50 Western Grebes have also been recorded nesting at the lake.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Tundra Swan Cygnus columbianus passage  1990  2,075 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds non-breeding  20,000-49,999 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Besant Midden Protected Area 15 protected area contained by site 79  
Mortlach Community Pasture 1,545 protected area overlaps with site 120  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Wetlands (inland) Freshwater lakes and pools; Freshwater marshes/swamps; Rivers  100%

Land use

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

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Pelican Lake. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016

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