Grande Prairie - Trumpeter Swan IBA

Country/territory: Canada

IBA Criteria met: A4iii (2008)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 130,000 ha

Birds Canada / Nature Canada

Site description
The Grande Prairie IBA is situated in northwestern Alberta, near the city of the same name. The communities of La Glace, Wembley and Clairmont are within the site, which focuses on the many lakes of the area. The lakes range greatly in size, from small 500 metre ponds, to the 10 kilometre-long Bear Lake. Bear Lake and Lac La Glace are connected by a branch of the Bear River. The surrounding uplands of this rolling plain are used primarily for agricultural purposes. Most of this site is within the Peace River Parkland subregion of Alberta, although the southwestern portion is within the Dry Mixedwood subregion. An area around Saskatoon Lake is an excellent example of upland Peace River Parkland.

Key biodiversity
The lakes of the Grande Prairie area support significant numbers of breeding and staging Trumpeter Swans, as well as very large numbers of staging ducks. During the breeding season, many of the small lakes support a family of Trumpeter Swan. There have been at least 28 locations where families of Trumpeter Swans have been recorded over the last 40 years, within an area roughly bounded by Valhalla, Wembley, Flyingshot, Clairmont and Wolfe lakes. On a yearly basis, 10 to 12 pairs of Trumpeter Swans breed in this area.

Hundreds of staging Trumpeter and Tundra swans are found on many lakes within the site, but Bear, Clairmont, Saskatoon, Valhalla, Gummer, Lac La Glace and Wilken lakes hold the largest numbers. In the autumn, usually sometime between early October and early November, mixed flocks of between 800 and 1,000 swans are recorded. Up to 309 Trumpeters have been recorded in one year (Valhalla Lake, Nov 8, 1998). Using the peak numbers recorded in the years between 1996 and 1998, an average of 237 Trumpeter Swans were seen. This represents over 1% of the estimated global population of Trumpeter Swans, and about 7% of the Rocky Mountain population. These are likely to be conservative figures since the surveys that these numbers are based on do not cover all the lakes at any one time.

Bear Lake, Lac la Glace, Valhalla Lake and the Buffalo Lake complex, are the most important lakes for staging ducks. Over 20,000 ducks have been recorded at each of these locations during fall staging, suggesting that the Grande Prairie area hosts many tens of thousands of ducks in most years. These lakes are also important colonial waterbird and shorebird breeding and staging areas.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Grande Prairie - Trumpeter Swan IBA. Downloaded from on 24/03/2023.