The Cavendish Rail Line is a 36 km long by 1 km wide strip of land along the Canadian Pacific Railway and Secondary Highway 555 between the towns of Cavendish and Atlee, Alberta. The habitat consists of tall shrubs of mainly thorny buffaloberry interspersed among the exotic grasses of the right-of-way. Surrounding this strip of habitat is native mixed grassland, interspersed with small amounts of cropland, and non-native plant pasturelands.
The rare Plains Hognose Snake has been recorded near Atlee.
The Cavendish Rail Line supports a nationally significant breeding population of Loggerhead Shrikes. The prairie population of Loggerhead Shrikes is classified as nationally threatened, and this site contains the densest breeding population of this species in Alberta. In 1992, 66 pairs were recorded at the site, and in 1993, there was 70 pairs - at least 2 % of the Canadian prairie population. Numbers may have been even higher since these were partial counts. The shrikes nest in the buffaloberry, and use the grasslands for foraging.
The native grassland areas adjacent to the rail line support a wide variety of mixed grassland species, including Upland Sandpiper, Long-billed Curlew (nationally vulnerable), Bairds Sparrow, and Spragues Pipit (nationally threatened).
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Cavendish Railline. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 03/08/2020.