Nature Saskatchewan’s Stewards of Saskatchewan program is monitoring at-risk species in the province, particularly Monarch Butterflies and Loggerhead Shrikes. 

The program works with landowners to conserve and monitor these species through population counts. The landowners are then the eyes and ears to collect data to fill in knowledge gaps of where these species are frequenting and how they are doing population-wise. 

For Monarch Butterflies, Saskatchewan is their prairie stronghold. The population ranges into Eastern Canada, but Nature Saskatchewan has found a fairly strong population despite being uplisted from special concern to endangered. 

“There is quite a knowledge gap on the prairies,” said Habitat Stewardship Coordinator Emily Putz. “We don’t know as much of what they do here as we do in Eastern Canada.” 

Putz added that Monarchs are nectoring species that feed off a large number of native plants on the prairies. In particular, the larvae are dependent on milkweed, in which there are five species of milkweed in Saskatchewan.  

As they grow up into butterflies, Putz said Monarchs use a wide variety of plants species found in the province for food and play an important role in pollinating those plants. 

Landowners can report Monarch Butterfly sightings to or call 1-800-667-HOOT. With permission, the data will be shared with the Saskatchewan Conservation Data Centre to help to map ranges, populations and contribute to listings or downlistings as species become less at-risk. 

Monarch butterfly countNature Saskatchewan is taking a count of Monarch Butterflies in the province. (Image courtesy: Nature Saskatchewan/Facebook)

Monitoring Loggerhead Shrike birds is part of Nature Saskatchewan’s Shrubs for Shrikes program, which is similar to the Stewards of Saskatchewan program. 

Putz said Loggerhead Shrikes predatory songbirds. They are about the size of a robin with small songbird feet, but have a curved hook on the end of their beak. 

“They are a pretty special little bird. We like to say they are a songbird who thinks it’s a hawk,” Putz said. 

She added that Loggerhead Shrikes are also known as “bandit birds” because they have a black “mask” that extends across their eyes. Their back is grey with black and white wings and tail and a white belly. 

The Loggerhead Shrike is a threatened species with a population of about 40,000 in Saskatchewan. The province is also a prairie stronghold for the Loggerhead Shrike as they tend to hang around in Buffalo Berry shrubs. 

Loggerhead Shrike sightings can be reported to or call 1-800-667-HOOT.