What are Important Bird Areas?

The Important Bird Areas (IBA) project is an international effort to identify the areas that are most important for maintaining bird populations and to focus conservation efforts at protecting these sites.

Populations of many Nebraska birds have declined alarmingly, mostly due to habitat loss and fragmentation. The IBA project is a way to focus attention on the best habitats of Nebraska in an effort to slow or even reverse these population trends.

What is an Important Bird Area?

IBA's are sites that provide essential habitat for one or more bird species. IBA's include sites that birds use during breeding season, on migration, or as wintering grounds. Sites may be a few acres or thousands of acres, but usually they are discrete sites that stand out from the surrounding landscape. IBA's may include lands that are public or private, protected or unprotected.

To qualify as an IBA, sites must satisfy at least one of the following criteria. The site must support:

  • Species of high conservation concern in Nebraska (threatened and endangered species, e.g.)

  • Significant concentrations of birds

  • Assemblages of birds associated with rare or representative habitat types

  • Restricted-range species (birds that are not widely distributed)

  • Sites important in education and research

Specific criteria have been developed for Nebraska and will be used in selecting sites around the state to be IBA's.

How will IBA's help birds?

The IBA project will help birds by:

  • surveying habitats across the state to determine where the best places are for the birds in need

  • developing conservation plans with land owners and land managers to assure sites continue to provide needed habitats

  • monitoring sites to record if birds continue to use best areas

  • educating everyone about the importance of birds and the protection of their habitats

The project is proactive, voluntary for landowners, sets science-based priorities for habitat conservation and promotes positive action to safeguard vital bird habitats.

For more information, call or write Kevin Poague, Important Bird Areas Coordinator: Audubon Nebraska, P.O. Box 117, Denton, NE 68339; 402-797-2301 (Fax 402-797-2304); E-mail

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