Nicolle Flats

Country/territory: Canada

IBA Criteria met: -
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 7,300 ha

Birds Canada / Nature Canada

Site description
Nicolle Flats is located 24 kilometres northeast of Moose Jaw, in southern Saskatchewan. It is a marshy wetland that lies at the southeast end of Buffalo Pound Lake adjacent to the QuAppelle River. The Moose Jaw River flows into the QuAppelle River near the southeast end of the flats. The adjacent slopes associated with the valley contain native grasslands, while Manitoba Maple, Trembling Aspen, Balsam Poplar, Chokecherry and a variety of willows grow in the coulees and along the valley floor. Dykes have been constructed in the area to regulate flooding.

Key biodiversity
Nicolle Flats supports a rich variety of birds in its varied habitats, most notably breeding Black Terns. In 1982, 150 birds were recorded during the breeding season; some of these birds were carrying food. This number of birds is probably over 1% of the Canadian population.

A colony of Great Blue Herons is also present during the breeding season. The colony has existed since 1883, with 60 nests in 1970, a peak of 70 nests in 1975, and declining numbers since then to 5 nests in recent years. This decline in nesting success was believed to be caused by marauding racoons. The predation has been counteracted successfully by the placement of sheet metal around the trunks of trees containing heron nests. The only confirmed breeding record for Saskatchewan of Cinnamon Teal took place here, and the adjacent ravines support breeding populations of Willow Flycatchers and Yellow-breasted Chats.

Present during the summer, but not breeding, are concentrations of American White Pelicans (over 50), Black-crowned Night-Herons (over 11) and Franklins Gulls (over 1000).

During migration, the area can be regionally important for staging ducks. Over 5,000 ducks can be seen here in one day during fall migration. A peak of 7,112 Mallards alone has been recorded here in fall, while in spring there is a high count of 660 Redheads.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Nicolle Flats. Downloaded from on 27/01/2023.