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Location Canada, Saskatchewan
Central coordinates 109o 41.44' West  54o 55.86' North
IBA criteria A4i
Area 45,000 ha
Altitude 598 - 602m
Year of IBA assessment 2008

Bird Studies Canada/Nature Canada

Site description Primrose Lake is situated in northwest Saskatchewan, within the Primrose Lake Air Weapons Range (near the Alberta border). It is a large boreal forest lake that contains several islands. Of these islands, Backes supports a large number of nesting colonial water birds. The Primrose Lake area has a sub-arctic climate. The Calder River flows into the north end of Primrose Lake, and the Martineau River flows out of the south end. Surface runoff from the surrounding boreal plains drains into Primrose Lake.

Key Biodiversity Between 1976 and 1991 a total of 6 surveys were completed at Backes Island in Primrose Lake to record populations of American White Pelicans, and Double-crested Cormorants. Over this period, an average of 4,922 American White Pelicans was recorded, which represents about 5.6% of the worlds estimated population, and as much as 9.1% of the estimated Canadian population. Over this same period, the average number of Double-crested Cormorants was 714 pairs, which is just under 1% of the estimated interior North American population.

Common Terns and California Gulls are also found on Backes Island in large numbers. Between 100 and 400 Common Tern nests have been recorded; and between 500 and 2000 California Gull nests have been recorded; the latter number being of global significance.

Other colonial water birds that nest on Backes Island include Great Blue Herons (11 to < 30 nests), Ring-billed Gulls (20 to < 500 nests), and Herring Gulls (<50 nests).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
American White Pelican Pelecanus erythrorhynchos breeding  1983  4,922 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest Boreal mixed woods  3%
Wetlands (inland) Freshwater lakes and pools; Large lake inlets & coastal features  97%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research minor
military major

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

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