Luck Lake (SK003)
Luck Lake is located in south-central Saskatchewan near the village of Birsay. Until recently, it was a large, shallow, saline lake typical of the southern prairies. As such, it was subject to marked year-to-year fluctuations in water levels. In 1987, a large wetland enhancement project was undertaken. The lake now has three basins (separated by dykes), with the eastern and western basins always having water, and the large central basin often being flooded. In all, the site contains approximately 1,800 ha of freshwater marsh, and about 200 ha of grassland and shrub thickets.
Luck Lake, when it contained water, was always an important staging area during fall migration. Since the wetland enhancement, however, it has developed into a globally significant site for many water bird species. During the early 1990s, one-day fall peak counts for at least six bird species were of global significance (i.e., greater than 1% of their biogeographical population or greater than 20,000 birds). These species were: Tundra Swan - about 5% of the North American population; Greater White-fronted Goose - about 2.5% of the mid-continent population; Snow Goose; Sandhill Crane 1.6% of the global population; Hudsonian Godwit - about 6% of the population; and Franklin's Gull - as much as 3% of the global population. These percentages are all based on one-day peak counts. For many species, the actual number of birds using the site would likely be much higher if "turnover rates” were considered (i.e., the movement of birds through the site over the course of migration). During fall migration, Luck Lake likely supports the largest concentration of Hudsonian Godwits in Saskatchewan. In summer, nationally significant numbers of Marbled Godwits are reported, such as 1,500 in 1995, which is 15% of the Canadian population.
In addition to these species, thousands of other shorebirds and waterfowl make use of Luck Lake during fall migration. Between September 1 and October 10, it has been estimated that the total waterbird population ranges between 60,000 and 100,000. The globally endangered Whooping Crane is also occasionally reported here during fall migration.
The wetlands enhancement was undertaken by Ducks Unlimited in collaboration with Saskatchewan Water Corporation, the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation, Wildlife Habitat Canada, and the Saskatchewan Natural History Society. Through their efforts, Luck Lake was developed as a Heritage Marsh, and water is now pumped in from Lake Diefenbaker to augment natural runoff.
The only major threat to the site may be competition for water during periods of low mountain runoff. Luck Lake is last in line for water after the needs for irrigation have been met. During low water years there may not be sufficient water to fill the basins.
Potential or Ongoing Threats