Utikuma and Utikumasis Lakes

Country/territory: Canada

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

Area: 34,700 ha

Birds Canada / Nature Canada

Site description
Utikuma and Utikumasis lakes are two very remote lakes approximately 80 km northwest of the town of Slave Lake. The closest community is Atikameg, on the northeast corner of Utikumasis Lake. Utikuma Lake is a large, extremely shallow lake with three islands and a maximum depth of 5.5 metres. Roughly 18% of its surface area is covered by emergent vegetation and it is subject to large algal blooms. The east side of the lake consists of a Sphagnum-dominated bog with an adjacent forested fen. The much smaller Utikumasis Lake, which lies immediately to the west of Utikuma Lake, also has extensive emergent vegetation. The flat to rolling terrain is underlain mostly by shales and ironstones. Utikumasis Lake drains via a small river into Utikuma Lake which eventually drains into the Peace River. Woodland Caribou and Moose are two large mammals that utilize area uplands.

Key biodiversity
Both Utikuma and Utikumasis lakes attract globally significant numbers of waterfowl, especially in fall migration and the summer moult period. More than 20,000 ducks have been seen on each lake in late summer and fall. In July 2000, approximately 50,000 were seen on Utikuma alone. Some species are also often seen in high numbers. For example, Canvasbacks numbered about 40,000 birds in July and August, 1975, on Utikuma Lake; this represents about 6% of the global population.

Many species of colonial waterbirds nest on Utikuma Lake. A 2000 survey documented: Double-crested Cormorants (1,572 nests), American White Pelican (60 nests), Common Tern (160 nests), Franklins Gull (3,903 nests), and Western Grebe (851 nests, which probably represents over 1% of their uncertain global population). Other species found at this site include Forsters Tern and Great Blue Heron. The average waterfowl production for Utikuma Lake is estimated at 600 broods.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Utikuma and Utikumasis Lakes. Downloaded from on 04/10/2022.