IBA Reed Lake
Morse, Saskatchewan
Site Summary
SK034 Latitude
50.402° N
107.097° W
642 - 697 m
58.92 km²
native grassland, mud or sand flats (saline), inland saline lake, arable & cultivated lands
Land Use:
Agriculture, Nature conservation and research, Hunting, Rangeland/pastureland
Potential or ongoing Threats:
Dams and water management/use
IBA Criteria: Globally Significant: Congregatory Species, Colonial Waterbirds/Seabird Concentrations, Nationally Significant: Congregatory Species, Shorebird Concentrations
Conservation status: IBA Conservation Plan written/being written, Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network
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Site Description
Situated in southwestern Saskatchewan, Reed Lake is a shallow saline lake (14 km by 3-4 km) that lies parallel to the Trans-Canada highway. The towns of Herbert and Morse are located on the north shore of the lake. The water source for the lake is from intermittent creeks and general spring runoff. As a result, the water levels are subject to wide fluctuation from year to year depending on the amount of spring runoff and precipitation. Several small islands are present within the lake. The lake is surrounded by rangeland and cultivated land.
During the spring migration, the lake supports significant numbers of staging waterfowl and shorebirds. For shorebirds, peak one-day counts have consistently been greater than 5,000, with as many as 11,327 shorebirds being recorded during a one-day count in 1993. A total of 2,265 Stilt Sandpipers were tallied on May 26, 1993, which represents about 2.3% of the global population. Large numbers of Tundra Swans have also been recorded at the site with as many as 5,000 being recorded (about 2.5% of the North American population). It is likely that swans from both the eastern and western populations utilize this site. During the fall migration, as many as 5,500 Canvasbacks have been recorded (just under 1% of their estimated population) along with about 5,000 Snow Geese.

At times, large numbers of Franklin's Gulls have also been recorded at this lake; in 1987, 30,000 gulls were present during the mid-summer this would represent about 6% of the world's estimated population. Moulting waterfowl also use this site, with numbers ranging as high as 6,000; some of the more abundant species include Northern Shoveler and Redhead.

The globally vulnerable and nationally endangered Piping Plover has also been recorded at this site, but never in large numbers. Also, there are small colonies of American White Pelican and Double-crested Cormorant on the lake.

IBA Criteria
SpeciesT | A | I Links Date Season Number G C N
American White Pelican 2013 SP 2,000
Canvasback 1995 FA 5,500
Franklin's Gull 1987 SU 30,000
Long-billed Dowitcher 2012 FA 2,000 - 3,000
Red Knot 1993 SP 950
Ross's Goose 2004 FA 30,000
Snow Goose 2004 - 2005 FA 60,000 - 65,000
Tundra Swan 2012 - 2018 FA 1,500 - 3,000
Tundra Swan 1995 SP 5,000
Whooping Crane 2017 SP 1
Note: species shown in bold indicate that the maximum number exceeds at least one of the IBA thresholds (sub-regional, regional or global). The site may still not qualify for that level of IBA if the maximum number reflects an exceptional or historical occurrence.
Conservation Issues
Drought and associated fluctuations in water levels can reduce habitat availability for staging waterfowl. The increased salinity associated with lower water levels may also affect primary productivity and subsequent use of the lake by birds. In 1997, Reed Lake, along with Chaplin and Old Wives Lake, was recognized as a Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network site of "hemispheric" significance.

The IBA Program is an international conservation initiative coordinated by BirdLife International. The Canadian co-partners for the IBA Program are Birds Canada and Nature Canada.
   © Birds Canada