Saving Important Bird Areas

A female Common Loon. Photo: Connor Stefanison

Many of America’s most beloved and biologically rich landscapes are in grave danger. From the Arctic Slope in Alaska to the Mississippi Delta, and from the Northeast’s Long Island Sound to the wetlands of the Everglades, the power of Important Bird Areas (IBAs) cannot be overstated. Audubon is leading the way to protect these iconic places and the birds that depend on them, and mobilizing our network of chapters to act as stewards.

The Threat

Birds depend on a diverse range of habitats, and the threats that confront them are equally varied. Grasslands are being replaced by residential development. Forests disappear through the overharvesting of timber. Badly planned energy development has grim consequences for many bird species and other wildlife.

Audubon’s Solution

As the U.S. partner for BirdLife International, Audubon spearheads an ambitious effort to identify, monitor, and protect the most important places for birds. We also collaborate with 19 international partners to extend a web of protection throughout the Western Hemisphere. To date Audubon has identified more than 2,700 IBAs covering almost 400 million acres of public and private lands in the United States. Among them are high-priority Global IBAs—places like New York City’s Jamaica Bay, areas within Alaska’s Arctic Slope, and coastal bird sanctuaries in Texas.

Each priority site requires a specific conservation plan—and that’s a critical piece of the work Audubon does. To implement these plans, Audubon will work with all key stakeholders—landowners, government agencies at every level, chapters, and communities. A tiered program will guide the scope and level of involvement of the Audubon network, focusing on where conservation actions are possible and where protections can be secured, habitats restored, or threats reduced. This approach works: IBA status is now formally factored into state agency land-use planning in a number of states, including New York, Minnesota, and Washington. IBAs are also recognized by major utility grid planners and federal agencies. This pillar of Audubon’s overall approach to conservation is both powerful and simple: By identifying and protecting the most important places for birds, we can save species and preserve our natural heritage.

Audubon maintains a complete database of U.S. IBAs that that can be accessed here. Or browse the map below. Red dots signify Globally Important IBAs, blue dots indicate Continental IBAs, and green dots represent U.S. State IBAs. 

You can read more on Audubon's IBA program here

Curious about how you can help protect an IBA near you? 
Download a copy of Cooking Up Conservation Success: Recipes Across the U.S. Important Bird Areas Network!

Find an Important Bird Area near you

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