The Important Bird Area Program (IBAs)
Important Bird Areas (IBAs) are just what their name implies: places that are important for birds. The IBA Program is a global initiative whose goal is to identify, monitor, and protect a network of sites critical for the conservation of birds, referred to as Important Bird Areas or IBAs. Habitat loss and climate change are two profound threats facing bird species across the globe. The IBA program is an exciting initiative whose mission is to identify areas that are and will be critical habitats for birds now and in the future. Below are the IBA designations of Bighorn Audubon with support from Audubon Rockies.
Ucross IBA Designation, March 2015
In March of 2015, under the guidance of Audubon Rockies, the local Bighorn Chapter of Audubon and the Ucross Foundation have formed a partnership to designate the Ucross Ranch of approximately 20,000 acres as an Important Bird Area. The ranch is not only incredibly important for birds, but it is managed extremely well with a keen focus on conservation. The significant habitat improvements and management of the overall ranch health by Apache Foundation during the past 10 years have been essential factors in this recent designation.
The Bradford Brinton IBA, November 2017
In November, 2016, The Bighorn Audubon, in cooperation with Audubon Rockies, and The Brinton Museum formed a partnership to designate 620 acres of The Brinton as an Important Bird Area. This IBA designation recognizes the importance of The Brinton for birds on a national scale.
Valley View Subdivision, September 2017
In 2017, the 266 acre Valley View Subdivision in Big Horn was designated an IBA. The subdivision is located on the eastern slope of the Bighorn Mountain foothills and is predominately shortgrass prairie and sagebrush steppe, offering a myriad of prairie and sage adapted species.
Kleenburn Recreation Area, July, 2018
In 2018, the 77 acre Kleenburn Recreation Area was designated an IBA. Kleenburn contains lowland riparian habitat that borders the Tongue River. It is just east of the Acme exit off I90 north. It includes walking trails for birding that follow the river, and offers several ponds, a marsh, and a grassland complex.
Falxa Land Company, July, 2018
In 2018, the Falxa Land Company of over 20,000 acres was designated an IBA. The Falxa Land Company is located in northeastern Johnson County and is predominately a prairie grassland/sage ecotype. This vegetational community is important for dozens of avian species. The IBA includes 5 miles along the Powder River.
The conservation of birds and their habitats is the mission of The National Audubon Society and our local chapter. IBAs provide critical habitat to one or more species of birds during some portion of the year (nesting areas, crucial migration stop-over sites, or wintering grounds). IBAs may vary in size and may include public or private lands, or both. For a place to qualify as an IBA, it must either support a large concentration of birds, provide habitat for a threatened or rare species, or provide habitat for a bird with a very limited or restricted range. Once nominated and selected as an IBA, a site is then ranked as significant at either the state, continental, or global level.
To date, 49 sites have been approved in Wyoming and 54 in Colorado and with your help, many more nominations are on the way. You can see a full listing of Wyoming’s IBAs at Audubon Rockies, with links to site profiles for each area.