A warming world could adversely affect the climate ranges needed by many North American birds as described in Audubon’s Climate Report. Increasing conservation efforts are needed to preserve critical habitats birds need today and in the future. Audubon works to protect habitat by its Important Bird Area Program (IBA) which identifies and conserves areas vital to birds and biodiversity.
IBAs are areas of conservation value providing habitat for one or more species of birds including sites for breeding. Audubon is the US partner of this BirdLife International program and Audubon established programs state by state. The science-based program applies criteria to identify sites including places where:
– Rare species of birds are found; i.e., sites that regularly support significant breeding or non-breeding densities of one or more particular species.
– Rare natural habitats with birds that are found only in these special habitats; i.e., sites with rare, unique or exceptional examples of habitats that support bird species dependent on that
habitat type. In Ohio that could include grasslands, mature forests and riparian corridors.
– Large numbers of birds are found; i.e., sites that regularly hold significant numbers of one or more species, breeding or nonbreeding, including migration.
– There have been longtime studies of birds; i.e., sites of long-term monitoring projects such as counts.
The Ohio identification of IBA started in 2000. Areas throughout the state were identified including in this Southwest Ohio area: Burnet Woods, Caesar Creek Lake, Cowan Lake, East Fork State Park and William H. Harsha Lake, Gilmore Ponds, Great Miami River-Lower (including the riparian corridor, MiamiWhitewater Forest and Oxbow), Hueston Woods, Little Miami River including Spring Valley Wildlife Area), and Voice of America.
Identified IBAs are prioritized for conservation action as meeting global, continental, or state-level criteria. Ohio IBAs meet state-level criteria including sites for state species of concern. Some of these sites could be modified and additional areas could be added. However, there is no state-wide Audubon committee to oversee the program at this time.
For Audubon, Ohio is in the eastern portion of the Mississippi flyway. Ohio IBAs have natural resources for the Prothonotary Warbler needing forested wetlands, Cerulean Warbler needing mature forests and Bobolink and Dickcissel needing grasslands. Visit these sites. Help protect these habitats. Talk about the importance of habitat protection and IBAs with your friends, and by lettersto-the-editor, and contacts with elected officials.