Ideally situated near the geographic centre of North America, Southwest Manitoba made up of mixed-grass prairie, wetlands and boreal forest, is home to a wide array of bird species. And with each season, comes a new opportunity to sneak a peak at over 300 species that visit our region every year. Below is a list of some of the popular birdwatching sites throughout the region.
For serious birders visiting the area the book A Birder's Guide to Southwest Manitoba written by local birders Cal Cuthbert, Barbara Robinson and Jean Horton is a must-have. To find out where you can obtain a copy please call 204-867-5228. For information on the Manitoba Grasslands Birding Trail please click here.
Assiniboine Riverbank Trail System (Brandon)
Situated in the heart of the City of Brandon, the Assiniboine River Corridor winds you around Interpretive Ponds that are located adjacent to the Riverbank Discovery Centre (home to Brandon Tourism and Ducks Unlimited Canada Manitoba Field Offices). Birdwatchers can generally expect to see Mallards, Canada Geese, Yellow Warblers, American Goldfinches, and Killdeers. A list of species to look for is available within the centre.
Brandon Hills Wildlife Management Area (Brandon)
The area provides important habitat for a variety of wildlife and plant species and is available for recreational activities such as hiking, cross-country skiing, cycling and bird watching. Hunting is also allowed during regulated hunting seasons. Maps of the area are available at the Riverbank Discovery Centre. Call for more information.
Broomhill Wildlife Management Area (Broomhill)
The Broomhill WMA is perhaps most popular for supporting one of the largest known concentrations of Baird’s sparrows in southwestern Manitoba. Other prairie birds including Grasshopper and Clay-coloured Sparrows, Western Meadowlarks, Willow Flycatchers, Upland Sandpipers, Sprague’s Pipits and Chestnut-collared Longspurs reside here.
Douglas Marsh (Douglas Marsh)
The Douglas Marsh is designated as an "Important Bird Area" within the province and has become world famous, as it is one of the few places you can find the elusive Yellow Rail. With luck you may also spot a secretive Virginia or Sora Rail, some inquisitive Sedge Wrens, and the sought after Le Conte’s and Nelson’s Sharptailed Sparrows.
Lang's Crossing (Dunrea)
A popular spot for swimming, hiking and horseback riding trails, birdwatching and wildlife viewing.
Chumah Trail (Hamiota)
Leads outdoor enthusiasts west of Hamiota to enjoy the prairie grasslands and native vegetation. A viewing platform, constructed at the end of the trail branching off to the north, affords bird watching enthusiasts a quiet place to get out their binoculars. With more tree and bush cover, this trail is better situated for cross country skiing in the winter and is groomed regularly.
Sourisford Park (Coulter) (Melita)
“Oldest Park in Western Canada.” The park is home to the annual Pioneer Picnic and 2010 will mark it’s 129th. To this day, the park is actively used and is a favorite spot for campers, picnickers, birdwatchers, hunters, and fisherman. Playground equipment and washrooms.
Bird Watching in Melita Area (Melita)
Melita & Area is listed as an “Important Bird Watching Area” and attracts birdwatchers from around the world. Local bird watching maps are available.
Dubbed the Grasslands Bird Capital of Manitoba, the Melita area provides birdwatchers an opportunity to catch a glimpse of several increasingly rare prairie species, including the Ferruginous Hawk, the Burrowing Owl, the Loggerhead Shrike, and the Baird’s Sparrow, all of which are endangered species in Manitoba. From beginner to experienced, birdwatchers love the Melita area as there are other species that are more numerous here than anywhere else in the province.
Gerald Malaher Wildlife Management Area (Melita)
With the help of Watchable Wildlife, this location has become a prime site for outdoor enthusiasts. Complete with maintained walking trails, visitors are able to enjoy a wide variety of wildlife, birds as well as foliage that call the area home. The location is also used for cross-county skiing in the winter.
Minnedosa Pothole Country (Minnedosa)
The Minnedosa Pothole Country is known as a North American hotspot for breeding waterfowl as numerous species of duck nest here. In addition, the Horned Grebe, American Bittern, Black Tern, Marsh Wren and Yellow-headed Blackbird can also be found.
Pelican Lake Area (Ninette)
Pelican Lake is an excellent location for bird lovers. It is well known for its Western Grebes but other grebe species also occur. American White Pelicans, a myriad of waterfowl and other water birds occur in adjacent wetlands. Eastern and Mountain Bluebirds frequent roadside nest boxes, while lakeside woodlands support a variety of Woodpeckers, Flycatchers, Vireos and Warblers.
Oak Lake/Plum Marshes (Oak Lake/Plum Marshes)
Plum Lake Marsh is an important staging area for waterfowl during spring and fall migration. However, an impressive variety of birds remain to nest including Eared Grebe, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Marbled Godwit, Gray Catbird, Common Yellowthroat and Baltimore Oriole.
Birders' Paradise (Pierson)
The Rural Municipality of Edward, where Pierson is located, is a Birdwatchers Paradise; many species of birds make this area their home such as upland birds (prairie chicken, partridge, and even pheasants). You may even catch a glimpse of the Eurasian Doves that have been making this area their home for the last few years. There may even be a moose to see while you are busy watching the birds.
Pierson Wildlife Management Area (Pierson)
Known as one of the few sites in Manitoba for Say’s Phoebes, this area attracts a wide array of birds including Great-Horned and Long-eared Owls, Black-billed Cuckoos, Red-eyed and Warbling Vireos, Upland Sandpipers, Gray Partridge, Sharp-tailed and Ruffed Grouse and Ring-necked Pheasants.
Poverty Plains (Poverty Plains)
The predominantly open pasture land and mix-grass prairie habitat is home to several threatened and endangered grassland bird species including Baird’s Sparrows, Loggerhead Shrikes and Ferruginous Hawks. Many prairie specialties such as the Upland Sandpiper, Sharp-tailed Grouse, or Chestnut-collared Long-spur can also be spotted.
Spruce Woods Area (Spruce Woods Provincial Park)
Mixed-grass prairie, rolling sand dunes, white spruce and deciduous forest and creeks and ponds make the perfect habitat for a number of species including the Wood Duck, Hooded Merganser, Turkey Vulture, Broad-winged Hawk, American Kestrel, Ruffed Grouse, Belted Kingfisher, Indigo Bunting and many more.
Souris River Bend Wildlife Management Area (Wawanesa)
Home to a variety of habitats, the Souris River Bend is a priority for any birder. Black-and-white Warblers, American Redstarts and Eastern Towhees reside in the valley slopes while Cooper’s Hawks, Black-billed Cuckoos, Flycatchers, Veerys, Vireos, Ovenbirds and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks all prefer the wooded uplands. The Least Flycatcher, Yellow-throated Vireo, Yellow Warbler and Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers dwell along the riverbottom forest while the Clay-coloured Sparrow, Mourning Dove, Eastern Kingbird, Gray Catbird, Vesper Sparrow, American Goldfinch and Sharp-tailed Grouse inhabit the grasslands and thickets.
Whitewater Lake (Whitewater Lake)
Primarily known as a major staging area for waterfowl, shorebirds and Tundra Swans, Whitewater Lake is also home to over 110 other bird species, including huge numbers of Franklin’s Gulls. Recognized as a Canadian Important Bird Area of global significance, this site is a top priority for keen birdwatchers. A festival, attracting the avid and novice, is held every year to promote the education of birdwatching.