The Important Bird Area (IBA) program is a global bird conservation program designed to identify, monitor, and protect those landscapes most important to birds. The National Audubon Society, in partnership with BirdLife International, began implementing the IBA program in the United States in 1995. There are currently 46 states with IBA programs in various stages of development.
Audubon Launches IBA Program in Missouri
In 2006, Audubon announced the Missouri IBA program which identifies the 47 most important landscapes for bird populations in Missouri, five now being recognized as Globally Important Bird Areas (GIBA) due to sensitive and declining species. Being centrally located among continental biomes and their transitional zones, Missouri contains a wide variety of avian species from western and northern prairies and wetlands, eastern forests, and southern swamps. Most avian conservation issues in Missouri region involve the degradation, loss, and fragmentation of habitat. Our IBA program identifies these imperiled habitats, their conservation concerns, species affected, and then targets them for on-the-ground community conservation action. See our Missouri IBA MAP here.
Given the realities of such a broad endeavor, under the direction of a steering and technical committee comprised of ornithological experts from chapters, agencies and universities, we have identified priority IBAs in Missouri to deploy landscape scale species monitoring and habitat restoration efforts:
- Grassland and Prairie IBAs—We work across Missouri in the last and best remaing examples of prairie habitats left; Golden Grasslands, Cole Camp Prairies, and Grand River Grasslands support populations of Greater Prairie-Chicken (state endangered), Henslow’s Sparrows, Grasshopper Sparrows and Eastern Meadowlarks. We collaborate with our Missouri Department of Conservation and Missouri Prairie Foundation partners and private landowners to advance grassland conservation activity focused on large-scale fescue and row crop conversion, tree removals, prescribed fire, and rotational cattle grazing, all which benefit grassland birds. Community awareness events like Prairie Days in Cole Camp engage 1000s of people each year.
- Iatan/Weston River Corridor IBA—A 100,000 acre landscape near Kansas City, Missouri of restored marshes and bottomland forests located along a key corridor for migratory landbirds. Area also supports significant wetland species such as Least Bittern, Common Moorhen, Marsh Wren, and Virginia and King Rails. In its early stages of development, a partnership is emerging between Missouri DNR, Kansas City Power and Light, Fort Leavenworth, the city of Weston, and other stakeholders to deploy bird and habitat conservation activity in one of the most critical migratory flyways in the country and the largest surviving tract of old-growth bottomland forest on the entire length of the Missouri River, known as the Weston Bend Bottomlands.
- Great Rivers Confluence IBA—Network of significantly public and privately-owned marshes and bottomland forests embedded within an agricultural context, that support wetland bird species such as Virginia Rail, Marsh Wrens, and the state-endangered American Bittern and King Rail. This IBA is also a key flyway and stopover site for migratory shorebirds and landbirds. Audubon Missouri recently opened our Audubon Center at Riverlands here to connect citizens to this important landscape. Working closely with our St. Louis Audubon Society Chapter, and the U.S. Corps of Engineers partner, this Center will continue to utilize IBA data to identify and restore wetlands and forested bottomland areas within a 54,000 acre landscape. Specific monitoring focus will be put on the 1,200 acres of wetlands at Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary.
- White River Glades and Woodlands IBA—An extensive 432,000 acre network of glades, savannas, and woodlands that support populations of Bachman’s Sparrows (state endangered), Greater Roadrunners, Painted Buntings, and Prairie Warblers. Our Greater Ozarks Audubon Chapter has initiated an effort for community stewardship and workshops, training, and cane restoration work at Drury Mincy Conservation Area. We are also collaborating closely with our Audubon Arkansas conservation efforts established in this region.