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: Partridges, Pheasants, Grouse, and Turkeys; Typical Owls; Swallows; Jays, Crows, and Magpies; Thrushes; Blackbirds and Orioles
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: Partridges, Pheasants, Grouse, and Turkeys; Typical Owls; Swallows; Jays, Crows, and Magpies; Thrushes; Blackbirds and Orioles

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

Identification:
40 - 48 cm long with a 56 - 64 cm wingspread. Sexes appear similar. Body is mottled buff, with scaled and spotted underparts. Tail is mostly white, and is narrow and pointed. Small yellow comb above the eyes. In a breeding display, males inflate purple "air sacs" in their neck region to attract females.

Distribution:

Range extends across most of southern and central Manitoba, in open grass and brushland, such as natural meadows, open bogs and abandoned farm clearings. In North America, they breed from Alaska to Quebec, and through north-central United States. "Sharpies" are non-migratory, and spend most of the winter under the snow to conserve energy and avoid predators.

Identification:
  • 40 - 48 cm long with a 56 - 64 cm wingspread. Sexes appear similar.
  • Body is mottled buff, with scaled and spotted underparts.
  • Tail is mostly white, and is narrow and pointed.
  • Small yellow comb above the eyes.
  • In a breeding display, males inflate purple "air sacs" in their neck region to attract females.

Distribution:

Range extends across most of southern and central Manitoba, in open grass and brushland, such as natural meadows, open bogs and abandoned farm clearings. In North America, they breed from Alaska to Quebec, and through north-central United States. "Sharpies" are non-migratory, and spend most of the winter under the snow to conserve energy and avoid predators.


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

Sharp-tailed Grouse

Order: Galliformes Family: Phasianidae

Photo: courtesy of Ron Bazin

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


Identification:
60 - 84 cm long, with a 137 - 152 cm wingspread; The largest North American owl. Round head lacks ear tufts. Heavily ringed facial disk and yellow eyes. Dark chin spot bordered by white patches, resembling a bow tie. Dusky grey in color, and heavily striped lengthwise on under parts.

Distribution:

Manitoba’s provincial bird, found throughout the province in coniferous forest or muskeg habitats. Southeastern Manitoba may perhaps be one of the best regions in North America to observe the Great Gray Owl. It nests in boreal forests as far as the tree line, from Alaska through Manitoba to Ontario, and south through the northwestern U.S.

Identification:
  • 60 - 84 cm long, with a 137 - 152 cm wingspread; The largest North American owl.
  • Round head lacks ear tufts.
  • Heavily ringed facial disk and yellow eyes.
  • Dark chin spot bordered by white patches, resembling a bow tie.
  • Dusky grey in color, and heavily striped lengthwise on under parts.

Distribution:

Manitoba’s provincial bird, found throughout the province in coniferous forest or muskeg habitats. Southeastern Manitoba may perhaps be one of the best regions in North America to observe the Great Gray Owl. It nests in boreal forests as far as the tree line, from Alaska through Manitoba to Ontario, and south through the northwestern U.S.


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

Great Grey Owl

Order: Strigiformes Family: Strigidae

Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature

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


Identification:
18 - 22 cm long with a 40 - 43 cm wingspread. The largest North American swallow. Males are a glossy purplish-blue throughout. Females and immatures are greyish-white below, with bluish-grey upperparts. Tail is somewhat forked. Appear like a swallow in flight, taking short glides alternating with rapid flapping. Readily inhabit multiple-unit Martin bird houses.

Distribution:

Purple Martins breed from central B.C. across to central and southern Manitoba, east through the Great Lakes region to Newfoundland, and southward throughout the U.S. They are not found in mountainous regions in the west of the continent. They migrate to the tropics for the winter. Purple Martins are locally common wherever suitable nest sites are available, and are commonly found across open woodlands, agricultural land, and residential areas.

Identification:
  • 18 - 22 cm long with a 40 - 43 cm wingspread. The largest North American swallow.
  • Males are a glossy purplish-blue throughout.
  • Females and immatures are greyish-white below, with bluish-grey upperparts.
  • Tail is somewhat forked.
  • Appear like a swallow in flight, taking short glides alternating with rapid flapping.
  • Readily inhabit multiple-unit Martin bird houses.

Distribution:

Purple Martins breed from central B.C. across to central and southern Manitoba, east through the Great Lakes region to Newfoundland, and southward throughout the U.S. They are not found in mountainous regions in the west of the continent. They migrate to the tropics for the winter. Purple Martins are locally common wherever suitable nest sites are available, and are commonly found across open woodlands, agricultural land, and residential areas.


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

Purple Martin (Progne subis)

Order: Passeriformes Family: Hirundinidae

Photo: E.T. Jones

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


Identification:
28 - 32 cm long with a 40 - 45 cm wingspread. Upper parts bright blue including the crest, back, wings and tail Black barring and white patches on wings and tail. Black necklace borders a white face and throat. Under parts white.

Distribution:

Found east of the Rockies from central Alberta to Newfoundland, including central and southern Manitoba. Their range extends south through the central United States, and along the Atlantic coast to Texas and Florida. Though local populations may move south in the fall, many remain in Manitoba year round. Their preferred habitat is mixed forest, but they have become well adapted to suburban parks, yards and gardens.

Identification:
  • 28 - 32 cm long with a 40 - 45 cm wingspread.
  • Upper parts bright blue including the crest, back, wings and tail
  • Black barring and white patches on wings and tail.
  • Black necklace borders a white face and throat.
  • Under parts white.

Distribution:

Found east of the Rockies from central Alberta to Newfoundland, including central and southern Manitoba. Their range extends south through the central United States, and along the Atlantic coast to Texas and Florida. Though local populations may move south in the fall, many remain in Manitoba year round. Their preferred habitat is mixed forest, but they have become well adapted to suburban parks, yards and gardens.


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

Blue Jay

Order: Passeriformes Family: Corvidae

Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature

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


Identification:
16.5 - 20 cm in length with a 30 - 35 cm wingspread. Male has turquoise blue upperparts and a pale-blue breast, with a white belly. Female is greyish-blue overall except for a brownish throat, a white belly and a touch of blue on the rump, tail and wings. Immatures resemble the female except for a mottled breast. Longer wings, and a more graceful, swallow-like flight than the Eastern Bluebird.

Distribution:

Found across southern Manitoba in open rangelands and meadows. They breed from Alaska and the Yukon, south throughout west-central North America, generally at higher elevations, among scattered trees and bushes. Their breeding range extends as far east as eastern Manitoba, western North Dakota and northwestern Texas. They overwinter in the southern U.S. and Mexico, where they inhabit lower elevations, primarily open plains, grasslands and desert. Resident populations are found in the west-central U.S.

Identification:
  • 16.5 - 20 cm in length with a 30 - 35 cm wingspread.
  • Male has turquoise blue upperparts and a pale-blue breast, with a white belly.
  • Female is greyish-blue overall except for a brownish throat, a white belly and a touch of blue on the rump, tail and wings.
  • Immatures resemble the female except for a mottled breast.
  • Longer wings, and a more graceful, swallow-like flight than the Eastern Bluebird.

Distribution:

Found across southern Manitoba in open rangelands and meadows. They breed from Alaska and the Yukon, south throughout west-central North America, generally at higher elevations, among scattered trees and bushes. Their breeding range extends as far east as eastern Manitoba, western North Dakota and northwestern Texas. They overwinter in the southern U.S. and Mexico, where they inhabit lower elevations, primarily open plains, grasslands and desert. Resident populations are found in the west-central U.S.


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

Mountain Bluebird

Order: Passeriformes Family : Muscicapidae

Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature

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


Identification:
20 - 28 cm in length. Sexes appear similar. Upperparts buff-brown, variably streaked and spotted. Throat and breast are bright yellow, crossed by a distinguishing black "V". Bill relatively long and pointed. In flight, its short, wide tail shows conspicuous white patches on either side. Similar to the Eastern Meadowlark, except it has paler upperparts and its yellow throat extends onto its cheeks. Often seen sitting on fence posts on the prairies and grassy plains, singing its easily recognizable song.

Distribution:

Western Meadowlarks breed on meadows, plains and prairies from B.C. to the Great Lakes region, including southern Manitoba. They also breed across most of the U.S., except in the eastern and Gulf Coast regions. Resident populations exist in the western and central U.S. Manitoba’s birds winter in the southern U.S. and Mexico. Their range is beginning to expand east of the Great Lakes as for Read More

Identification:
  • 20 - 28 cm in length. Sexes appear similar.
  • Upperparts buff-brown, variably streaked and spotted.
  • Throat and breast are bright yellow, crossed by a distinguishing black "V".
  • Bill relatively long and pointed.
  • In flight, its short, wide tail shows conspicuous white patches on either side.
  • Similar to the Eastern Meadowlark, except it has paler upperparts and its yellow throat extends onto its cheeks.
  • Often seen sitting on fence posts on the prairies and grassy plains, singing its easily recognizable song.

Distribution:

Western Meadowlarks breed on meadows, plains and prairies from B.C. to the Great Lakes region, including southern Manitoba. They also breed across most of the U.S., except in the eastern and Gulf Coast regions. Resident populations exist in the western and central U.S. Manitoba’s birds winter in the southern U.S. and Mexico. Their range is beginning to expand east of the Great Lakes as forests are removed in eastern North America.


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

Western Meadowlark

Order: Passeriformes Family: Emberizidae

Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature

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


Learning Objectives

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

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