Important Bird Areas

Westby Prairie-Wetland Complex

Montana

Located very close to the borders of North Dakota and Saskatchewan, this IBA includes three major wetlands (Flat Lake, Round Lake, and North Lake) that are surrounded by lush stands of native mid-grass prairie. The IBA consists of sections 1, 2, 12, and the north half of section 13 in T36N, R58E, plus section 33 in T37N, R58E. Ownership is a combination of waterfowl production areas administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state school trust lands, and private lands, some of which are under conservation easement.

Ornithological Summary

This outstanding example of native prairie and alkalai wetlands supports 8 species of high conservation concern (Piping Plover, Yellow Rail, Sprague's Pipit, Sedge Wren, Chestnut-collared Longspur, Baird's Sparrow, Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow, and LeConte's Sparrow). Numbers of nesting Piping Plovers, Sprague's Pipits, Chestnut-collared Longspurs, and Baird's Sparrows exceed threshold values for recognizing this site as an IBA of Global and Continental significance, respectively. In addition, large numbers of migratory shorebirds (sometimes exceeding 20,000 individuals per day; 26 species recorded) use the wetlands in spring and fall.

Conservation Issues

During drought years some of the wetlands become unsuitable for nesting plovers and rails. Most of the uplands are native prairie, but the potential exists for private landowners to convert some of these prairie lands to agricultural fields.