Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
STATUS: Rare a few decades ago, now quite abundant in recent years.
HABITAT: Inhabits island-studded lakes and deltas of low tundra country. Prefers islands that rise 10 to 20 feet above water level, are covered with rocks and shrubs interspersed with areas of open, level ground, and are surrounded by shallow water (under 5 to 6 feet deep) extensive enough to discourage predators from swimming across. During winter, found on freshwater and brackish marshes and on wet prairies, often in association with the snow goose.
SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Islands in Arctic tundra lakes.
NEST: Nests on the ground in loose colonies, preferably on islands in mixed habitats of dwarf birch and rocks, or occasionally along river or lake shores if islands are unavailable.
FOOD: Eats grain and new green growth of grasslands and grain fields.
REFERENCES: Barry 1964, Bellrose in Farrand 1983a, Johnsgard 1975b, Ryder 1967, Terres 1980.