The Important Bird Areas (IBAs) program is one of Audubon New York’s flagship conservation programs. This program, part of an international effort in 130 countries, identifies, monitors, and protects habitats critical to the success of bird populations. Across New York, more than 130 IBAs have been recognized as significant places for birds to survive and thrive. In addition, New York State has enacted a Bird Conservation Area (BCA) program, modeled on Audubon’s IBAs, to identify and manage publicly-owned lands that are important to birds. There are 59 BCAs to date.
New York’s IBAs are identified through a rigorous scientific process by leading avian experts. Each recognized IBA meets one of three criteria: a place where birds congregate in large numbers at one time; a place for species that are at-risk; or a place that supports groups of birds representing certain habitats such as forests, wetlands, grasslands and shrublands.
The IBA program is a catalyst for achieving bird conservation, the primary tools of which are habitat stewardship and site protection. To thrive, bird species need the right kind of places to live and reproduce, and proper sites to nest, forage, and rest during migration and overwintering. Without these supportive habitats, bird populations decline.
Audubon New York’s network of IBAs started in 1996, growing and evolving through an array of effective scientific, educational, and advocacy initiatives. The successful collaboration of landowners, local community members, conservation professionals, public agencies, and others, coupled with proven stewardship and management practices, has led to significant advances in open space protection, habitat management and restoration, bird monitoring and censuses, and public and private landowner education.
To learn how you can get involved at an IBA, visit the Adopt an IBA page.
Vital wetlands and grasslands habitat under permanent protection
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