Important Bird Areas

Saving Important Bird Areas

Essential habitats for birds

What is an Important Bird Area?

Important Bird Areas (IBAs) provide essential habitat for one or more breeding, wintering, and/or migrating bird species. The IBA program is designed to be proactive, voluntary, participatory, science-based and works to identify, monitor and conserve the most essential habitats for birds.

Why an Important Bird Area Program?

Increasing land use pressures from urban sprawl, agricultural and forestry practices, and outdoor recreation threaten to diminish both the quantity and quality of critical bird habitat throughout the state.

Minnesotans have long expressed a widespread interest in the birds of our state, yet despite this interest, there has never been an effort to systematically identify and protect the habitats most crucial to the long-term survival of Minnesota’s native bird populations.

IBAs serve as a catalyst for involving Audubon members and for informing the public about those areas most critical for the long-term survival of birds. These areas are an important tool for prioritizing land use options for national, state, and local land managers. Improved decision making regarding land use options will help ensure the long-term health of both common and uncommon bird species.

How You Can Help

Audubon has put together a sampling of conservation recipes called Cooking Up Conservation Success, where we highlight the innovation, dedication and achievements of the many volunteers, Audubon staff and partners working across the IBA network.

Important Bird Areas consist of a mix of private and public lands, varied strategies are called upon to conserve these places. Science is critical to the identification of these areas; however, the true power of the program is in the engagement of people and the collaboration across partnerships. Over 230 stewardship groups and hundreds of volunteers are actively engaged in conservation at over 400 IBAs throughout the US, and these numbers continue to grow. We hope this compilation of ingredients will guide and inspire you to develop your own recipes for success! Contact Dale Gentry to learn about volunteer opportunities near you. 

Program History

IBAs are international in scope. BirdLife International conceived and initiated the IBA program in Europe in 1981. Since then, more than 7,500 sites, in 170 countries, have been identified as IBAs. In 1995 the National Audubon Society became the officially designated U.S. partner of Birdlife International for the purpose of implementing the IBA program. Currently, efforts are underway in 46 states to identify IBAs, resulting in the official identification of more than 1,800 U.S. sites to date.

Audubon Minnesota, in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Nongame Program, began implementing the IBA program in Minnesota in February 2003. An IBA Technical Committee was formed, comprised of numerous bird experts and conservationists from Audubon, other birding groups, and federal and state agencies.

The Technical Committee has established State-specific criteria and a nomination form for the Minnesota IBA program and evaluates sites for IBA identification. In Minnesota, over 225 IBAs have been suggested and 57 sites covering 12,551,345 acres have been designated as IBAs. If you want to nominate a new area for IBA designation contact Dale Gentry

How you can help, right now