IBA Cavendish Railline
Buffalo, Alberta
Site Summary
AB076 Latitude
50.818° N
110.703° W
682 - 780 m
111.27 km²
scrub/shrub, native grassland, other
Land Use:
Agriculture, Nature conservation and research, Rangeland/pastureland, Urban/industrial/transport
Potential or ongoing Threats:
Grazing, Intensified management
IBA Criteria: Nationally Significant: Threatened Species
Conservation status:
Restricted access for IBA coordinators
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Site Description
The Cavendish Rail Line is a 36 km long by 1 km wide strip of land along the Canadian Pacific Railway and Secondary Highway 555 between the towns of Cavendish and Atlee, Alberta. The habitat consists of tall shrubs of mainly thorny buffaloberry interspersed among the exotic grasses of the right-of-way. Surrounding this strip of habitat is native mixed grassland, interspersed with small amounts of cropland, and non-native plant pasturelands.

The rare Plains Hognose Snake has been recorded near Atlee.

The Cavendish Rail Line supports a nationally significant breeding population of Loggerhead Shrikes. The prairie population of Loggerhead Shrikes is classified as nationally threatened, and this site contains the densest breeding population of this species in Alberta. In 1992, 66 pairs were recorded at the site, and in 1993, there was 70 pairs - at least 2 % of the Canadian prairie population. Numbers may have been even higher since these were partial counts. The shrikes nest in the buffaloberry, and use the grasslands for foraging.

The native grassland areas adjacent to the rail line support a wide variety of mixed grassland species, including Upland Sandpiper, Long-billed Curlew (nationally vulnerable), Bairds Sparrow, and Spragues Pipit (nationally threatened).

IBA Criteria
SpeciesT | A | I Links Date Season Number G C N
Note: species shown in bold indicate that the maximum number exceeds at least one of the IBA thresholds (sub-regional, regional or global). The site may still not qualify for that level of IBA if the maximum number reflects an exceptional or historical occurrence.
Conservation Issues
Alterations to the right-of-way could negatively affect Loggerhead Shrike nesting habitat. Additionally, increased cultivation or a significant increase in grazing pressure in the native grassland would negatively affect shrike foraging habitat. Recommendations have been made for the conservation of the nesting habitat in the right-of-way.

The IBA Program is an international conservation initiative coordinated by BirdLife International. The Canadian co-partners for the IBA Program are Birds Canada and Nature Canada.
   © Birds Canada