Muriel Lake is located about 200 km northeast of Edmonton near the Saskatchewan/Alberta border. The town of Bonnyville is located immediately to the north. The lake is a large body of freshwater, with small offshore islands in the southeast corner and in the northwest bay. There are also areas of exposed sand and gravel bars associated with these islands and extending out from the eastern shore. The surrounding landscape is a mosaic of agricultural fields and uncultivated land. Areas of shrub thickets and aspen groves are interspersed throughout.
Muriel Lake supports a large population of nesting colonial waterbirds. During a 1998 survey almost 6,000 pairs of nesting waterbirds were recorded. The species included California Gulls (1,200 nests), Ring-billed Gulls (2,500 nests), Herring Gulls (20 nests) Double-crested Cormorants (1,895 nests), Common Terns (300 adults), and Franklin's Gulls (400 adults). Nesting colonial waterbirds have been present at this site throughout the 1990s. Large numbers of breeding Western Grebes are also present with greater than 100 birds being estimated in the 1980s.
Piping Plovers (nationally endangered and globally vulnerable) have also been recorded at this site with as many as 8 pairs being present in 1996 (17 adults). In subsequent years the numbers of nesting plovers has declined with only 3 adults being present in 1997 and 2 adults being present in 1998. The area was not surveyed for Piping Plovers during the 1991 International Piping Plover census.
Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
Roadways are located close to the eastern, southern and western sides of the lake. A considerable amount of house and cottage development has occurred along these roadways, especially along the southern and southeastern shores of the lake. Although this development may lead to disturbance of the nesting birds, it will result in increased visibility and the potential for active protection of the nesting areas. There is also a concern that gull predation is affecting Piping Plover nesting success. Predator exclosures are being used, but their effectiveness is still uncertain.
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Muriel Lake. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 26/10/2020.