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Quill Lakes

Site Facts

Country, State, Province/Region:

Canada, Province of Saskatchewan

Relative Location:

Located approximately 120 kilometers north of Regina


51°55' N; 104°20' W



Basis for Designation:

Supports more than 100,000 shorebirds annually, including 5% of the world population of Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus).


Approximately 40,000 hectares.


February 1994

Site Owner/Steward:

Provincial Crown land. Flooded areas administered by Ministry of Agriculture (Lands Branch). Uplands surrounding the basin are either Private or Crown land administered by Ministry of Agriculture (Lands Branch) or the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority (formerly Saskatchewan Wetland Conservation Corporation).

Site Partners:

Ducks Unlimited Canada
Saskatchewan Watershed Authority
Quill Lakes International Bird Area Tourism Group


Saskatchewan Watershed Authority
Tel: (306) 694-3900

Ducks Unlimited Canada
Tel: (306) 338-3677

The Quill Lakes are a series of three large saline lakes in a mixed grassland ecosystem. Wind action on these shallow lakes creates large expanses of fresh mudflats which are utilized by shorebirds for feeding. Large open marsh complexes are situated adjacent to the lakes and used by staging shorebirds and other water-associated birds.

Birds use the Quill Lakes for feeding and roosting during spring and fall migrations. Spring migration begins approximately the second week of May and is complete by the second week of June. Fall migration begins the second week of July and extends well into September in most years.

Recruitment on Big Quill Lake is currently very low. Hatch success is high but chick survival appears limited. This limiting is attributed to the absence of water near traditional nesting areas on old shorelines due to receding water levels.

Some of the shorebird species that use the Quill Lakes for nesting and roosting include:
American Avocet
Baird's Sandpiper
Black-bellied Plover
Buff-breasted Sandpiper
Common Snipe
Greater Yellowlegs
Hudsonian Godwit
Least Sandpiper
Long-billed Dowitcher
Marbled Godwit
Pectoral Sandpiper
Red Knot
Red Phalarope
Ruddy Turnstone
Semipalmated Plover
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Short-billed Dowitcher
Stilt Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper

Ecology & Conservation

Land Use:
Cattle ranching, cereal grain farming, recreation (bird watching), hunting.

No formal protection exists for the WHRSN site.

Current Threats:
High water levels and unregulated and unlicensed wetland drainage into the Quill Lakes from agricultural lands in the lakes' watershed.

Research and Management Activities:
Most recent activity at the Quill Lakes has been the monitoring of Piping Plovers by the Canadian Wildlife Service. This was, however, discontinued due to high water levels which have flooded nesting sites.   

Special Information

Local Activities:
Quill Lakes International Bird Area Tourism Group (

The towns of Wadena, Wynyard, and Foam Lake have partnered to create three main gateways and a viewing area at the Quill Lakes, each with its own unique viewing opportunities and attractions. Wynyard operates the Quill Lakes Interpretive Centre and Wadena and Foam Lake operate nature centres. Visitors include tourists and school groups from around the region.   


Saskatchewan Watershed Authority
111 Fairford Street East
Moose Jaw,  Saskatchewan, Canada  S6H 7X9
Voice: (306) 694-3900
Fax: (306) 694-3465

Saskatchewan Wetland Conservation Corporation
202-2050 Cornwall St.
Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada 2K5
Tel. 306 787-0726
Fax. 306 787-0780

Site Partners:

Ducks Unlimited Canada
Box 670
Wadena, Saskatchewan, Canada  SOA 4JO
Tel: 306-338-3677
Chuck Deschamps, Biologist

Quill Lakes International Bird Area Tourism Group


Additional Resouces


Dickson, H.L. and A.R. Smith. 1988. Canadian Prairie Shorebird Program: an update. Wader Study Group Bull., 52:23-27.

Ducks Unlimited. 1986. Saskatchewan Heritage Marsh Program - Third Generation, 1986. Ducks Unlimited Canada, Unpublished Report, Regina, Saskatchewan.

Ferry, J. 1910. Birds Observed in Saskatchewan during the summer of 1909. Auk: 185 -204.

Morrison, R.I.G. and K. Ross. 1989. Atlas of nearctic shorebirds on the coast of South America. 2 vols. 325 pp. Special Publication, Canadian Wildlife Service, Ottawa.