Species accounts have been developed for 118 birds found in Manitoba, including key identification characteristics, distribution, breeding biology, conservation status, and presence in the museum’s holdings. Most of the species accounts also have a photograph of the bird and a distribution map.

All 118 species accounts can be found at:

 http://www.virtualmuseum.ca/Exhibitions/Birds/MMMN/English/species.html.

In this learning object we feature one species from each of the following categories: loons; pelicans; geese and swans; cranes; avocets and stilts; gulls, terns, and jaegers.
Species accounts have been developed for 118 birds found in Manitoba, including key identification characteristics, distribution, breeding biology, conservation status, and presence in the museum’s holdings. Most of the species accounts also have a photograph of the bird and a distribution map.

All 118 species accounts can be found at:

 http://www.virtualmuseum.ca/Exhibitions/Birds/MMMN/English/species.html.

In this learning object we feature one species from each of the following categories: loons; pelicans; geese and swans; cranes; avocets and stilts; gulls, terns, and jaegers.

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Identification: 58 - 74 cm in length, with a 110 - 128 cm wingspread. Sexes alike. Breeding birds have a pale grey head and an iridescent purple throat, which may appear black. Vertical white stripes run through the throat region.   Black and white checkered back divided into 4 distinct patches, with a black tail and rump. Underparts mostly white with narrow, vertical black stripes on the upper breast. Ruby red eyes, with a straight, black bill.   In winter, upperparts are blackish-brown, and underparts are white. May have a thin line of brown around the chin region. Immatures resemble winter adults. Formerly considered along with the Arctic Loon as one species.

Distribution:

Pacif Read More

Identification:

  • 58 - 74 cm in length, with a 110 - 128 cm wingspread. Sexes alike.
  • Breeding birds have a pale grey head and an iridescent purple throat, which may appear black.
  • Vertical white stripes run through the throat region. 
  •  Black and white checkered back divided into 4 distinct patches, with a black tail and rump.
  • Underparts mostly white with narrow, vertical black stripes on the upper breast.
  • Ruby red eyes, with a straight, black bill. 
  •  In winter, upperparts are blackish-brown, and underparts are white. May have a thin line of brown around the chin region.
  • Immatures resemble winter adults.
  • Formerly considered along with the Arctic Loon as one species.

Distribution:

Pacific Loons breed on large, freshwater lakes and ponds in the tundra and northern forests of Alaska and northern Canada, including northern Manitoba along the coast of Hudson Bay. They winter along the Pacific coast from Alaska to Mexico.


© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Pacific Loon

Order: Gaviiformes Family: Gaviidae

Photo courtesy of Jack Dubois
Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature

Photo
© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


Identification: 125 - 175 cm long with a 280 cm wingspread. Sexes appear alike.  The pelican is a large, white bird with black primaries and outer secondaries, and bright orange feet. Immatures have a more grayish appearance. Their large, bright orange bill has a well developed gular sac (the fleshy pouch of the throat).

Vertical horny plates extend from the top of the bill from late winter until after the eggs are laid.

Distribution:

Variable distribution throughout inland North America, including the southwestern 1/3 of Manitoba during the nesting season. However, large flocks may be occasionally observed in Manitoba throughout the summer months at such places as Oak Hammock Marsh, Lockport, Hecla Island, Lake Manitoba around Delta Marsh, Lake Winnipegosis, and Big Grass Marsh. Pelicans winter along the Pacific coast of North America from California, south, and along the Gulf of Mexico.

Identification:

  • 125 - 175 cm long with a 280 cm wingspread. Sexes appear alike. 
  • The pelican is a large, white bird with black primaries and outer secondaries, and bright orange feet. Immatures have a more grayish appearance.
  • Their large, bright orange bill has a well developed gular sac (the fleshy pouch of the throat).

Vertical horny plates extend from the top of the bill from late winter until after the eggs are laid.

Distribution:

Variable distribution throughout inland North America, including the southwestern 1/3 of Manitoba during the nesting season. However, large flocks may be occasionally observed in Manitoba throughout the summer months at such places as Oak Hammock Marsh, Lockport, Hecla Island, Lake Manitoba around Delta Marsh, Lake Winnipegosis, and Big Grass Marsh. Pelicans winter along the Pacific coast of North America from California, south, and along the Gulf of Mexico.


© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Pelican

Order: Pelecaniformes Family: Pelecanidae

Photo : E.T. Jones
Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature

Photo
©1998 The Provincial Museum of Alberta - Use for Profit requires fee.


Identification:
60 - 80 cm in length with a 135 - 150 cm wingspread. Sexes are alike. The species exists in 2 color phases:

White Phase - entirely white except for black wing tips, a black "lip", a pink bill, and pink legs. Immatures are mottled brown above and white below, with a dark bill and dark feet.
Blue Phase - bluish-grey upper parts, brown under parts, with a white head and neck, pink bill and pink feet. Immatures may be entirely bluish-grey in colour, again with a dark bill and dark feet.

Distribution:

Snow Geese breed in the far north, on the northern coast of Alaska, the Canadian tundra, and Greenland. In Manitoba, they breed along the coast of Hudson Bay, including the Churchill region. They winter mainly along the Gulf coast, and in Texas and Mexico. During their spring and particularly their autumn migration, mass numbers can be observed feeding in stubble fields and sto Read More

Identification:
  • 60 - 80 cm in length with a 135 - 150 cm wingspread. Sexes are alike.
  • The species exists in 2 color phases:

White Phase - entirely white except for black wing tips, a black "lip", a pink bill, and pink legs. Immatures are mottled brown above and white below, with a dark bill and dark feet.
Blue Phase - bluish-grey upper parts, brown under parts, with a white head and neck, pink bill and pink feet. Immatures may be entirely bluish-grey in colour, again with a dark bill and dark feet.

Distribution:

Snow Geese breed in the far north, on the northern coast of Alaska, the Canadian tundra, and Greenland. In Manitoba, they breed along the coast of Hudson Bay, including the Churchill region. They winter mainly along the Gulf coast, and in Texas and Mexico. During their spring and particularly their autumn migration, mass numbers can be observed feeding in stubble fields and stopping over at refuges such as Oak Hammock Marsh. The Manitoba and North American range of the Snow Goose is illustrated on the map provided.


© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Goose

Order: Anseriformes Family: Anatidae

Photo courtesy of Jack Dubois
Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


Crane

Order: Gruiformes Family: Gruidae (Cranes)

Photo : E.T. Jones

©1998 The Provincial Museum of Alberta - Use for Profit requires fee.


Identification:
125 - 140 cm long with a 198 - 228 cm wingspread. Sexes appear alike, with males larger than females. Body all white except for black primary feathers and black mustachial markings on face. Red skin on forehead and cheeks is distinctive. Long legs and neck.

Young birds appear similar, but are strongly tinged with rust.

Distribution:

Sparsely distributed across its historic North American range. Whooping Cranes have been extirpated from Manitoba, and currently nest in a few protected areas encompassing 500 km2 of Wood Buffalo National Park near the border between Alberta and the Northwest Territories. Their nesting habitat here consists of marsh lands with interspersed patches of wooded terrain. These birds winter in a 90 km2 region of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, along the coast of Texas. During their fall migration, Whooping Cranes have traditional stop-over sites in south-central Saskatchewan, where they feed in wheat and b Read More

Identification:
  • 125 - 140 cm long with a 198 - 228 cm wingspread.
  • Sexes appear alike, with males larger than females.
  • Body all white except for black primary feathers and black mustachial markings on face.
  • Red skin on forehead and cheeks is distinctive.
  • Long legs and neck.

Young birds appear similar, but are strongly tinged with rust.

Distribution:

Sparsely distributed across its historic North American range. Whooping Cranes have been extirpated from Manitoba, and currently nest in a few protected areas encompassing 500 km2 of Wood Buffalo National Park near the border between Alberta and the Northwest Territories. Their nesting habitat here consists of marsh lands with interspersed patches of wooded terrain. These birds winter in a 90 km2 region of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, along the coast of Texas. During their fall migration, Whooping Cranes have traditional stop-over sites in south-central Saskatchewan, where they feed in wheat and barley stubble fields. This region of Saskatchewan provides the best places in Canada for bird watchers to view these endangered birds.


© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Identification:
42 - 48 cm long, with a 68 - 96 cm wingspread. Sexes appear similar, but males larger. Slender, upcurved bill, 8 - 9 ½ cm long, curved up slightly more in females. Upper parts and wings patterned black and white, under parts white. Head and neck cinnamon coloured in summer, grey in winter. Long, bluish legs.

Distribution:

Preferred habitat is freshwater marshes and shallow, marshy lakes across southwestern and south-central Manitoba. Breeds throughout the southern Canadian prairies, down through the American Midwest and the western states. Winters along the Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

Identification:
  • 42 - 48 cm long, with a 68 - 96 cm wingspread.
  • Sexes appear similar, but males larger.
  • Slender, upcurved bill, 8 - 9 ½ cm long, curved up slightly more in females.
  • Upper parts and wings patterned black and white, under parts white.
  • Head and neck cinnamon coloured in summer, grey in winter.
  • Long, bluish legs.

Distribution:

Preferred habitat is freshwater marshes and shallow, marshy lakes across southwestern and south-central Manitoba. Breeds throughout the southern Canadian prairies, down through the American Midwest and the western states. Winters along the Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf coasts.


© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

avocet

Order: Charadriiformes Family: Recurvirostridae (Avocets and Stilts)

Photo: E.T. Jones

©1998 The Provincial Museum of Alberta - Use for Profit requires fee.


Identification:
33 - 38 cm long with a 90 cm wingspread. Sexes alike. Breeding adults have a black head, white neck and under parts, and grey back and wings. Breast may have a rosy tinge. White wing bar separates grey wings from black wing tips. Feet are orange. Immatures require 3 years to obtain adult plumage.

Distribution:

During the breeding season, Franklin’s Gulls may be found across southern and central Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, as well as the north-central United States. They breed in freshwater marshes or sloughs, and are often seen feeding in freshly plowed fields. They winter on the Gulf coast and the Pacific coast of South America.

Identification:

  • 33 - 38 cm long with a 90 cm wingspread. Sexes alike.
  • Breeding adults have a black head, white neck and under parts, and grey back and wings. Breast may have a rosy tinge.
  • White wing bar separates grey wings from black wing tips.
  • Feet are orange.
  • Immatures require 3 years to obtain adult plumage.

Distribution:

During the breeding season, Franklin’s Gulls may be found across southern and central Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, as well as the north-central United States. They breed in freshwater marshes or sloughs, and are often seen feeding in freshly plowed fields. They winter on the Gulf coast and the Pacific coast of South America.


© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Gull

Order: Charadriiformes Family: Laridae

Photo: E.T. Jones

Photo
©1998 The Provincial Museum of Alberta - Use for Profit requires fee.


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Become familiar with the appearance, ecology, and taxonomic groupings of Canadian aquatic bird species, with particular reference to Manitoba.

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