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Important Bird Areas

Rare birds used to identify IBAs in Maine (l-r): Short-eared owl by Mike Fahey, black-throated blue warbler by Hans Toom, least tern by Eric Hynes

Maine’s Important Bird Area (IBA) program is part of a global effort to identify areas that are  most critical for long-term bird conservation.  IBAs must meet a set of criteria developed by a Technical Committee of bird experts.  The criteria are focused primarily on large concentrations of birds, species of conservation concern, and species diversity. Maine has so far identified 22 IBAs, primarily along the coast and around wetlands [pdf].

We Need Your Help!

We are currently seeking nominations for our second round of IBA identification, and need your help.  You can contribute to the IBA program by:

  • Visiting a site on the list of candidate IBA sites created by the IBA technical committee.  You can also view the highest priority sites where information is needed on a Google map.
  • Providing a checklist from one or more site visits directly to Maine Audubon (e-mail Susan Gallo) or submit observations via ebird.  Site visits and checklists within the past five years are useful for IBA nomination.
  • Nominating a new site. If you know of other areas that are good sites for any of the species of conservation concern, let Susan Gallo know. Guidelines [pdf] that outline the criteria should be followed, and bird information that supports the nomination can be e-mailed to Susan or submitted via ebird.

Thank you in advance for any help you can offer this next phase of IBA identification in Maine!

What Is An IBA?

An IBA is an area that provides important habitat for one or more species of breeding, wintering, or migrating birds.
IBA Characteristics

  • Generally supports birds of conservation concern (including threatened
    and endangered species)
  • Large concentrations of birds
  • Birds associated with unique or exceptional habitat
  • High historic research value for bird conservation
  • May be either protected or unprotected
  • May be publicly or privately held
  • IBA Size
    • IBAs may be of any size, but are usually discrete and distinguishable in character, habitat, or ornithological importance from surrounding areas.
    • Where possible, IBAs should be large enough to supply all or most of the needs of birds during the season in which the site is important.
    • Area boundaries may be either natural (e.g., rivers, ridges, islands, watersheds) or human-made (e.g., roads, property boundaries).

Maine IBA Program Goals

  • Identify areas key to the conservation of important bird populations or communities.
  • Work cooperatively with land owners and managers to conserve these
    areas through habitat management and/or land acquisition/protection
  • Promote public and private participation in bird conservation.
  • Provide public education and community outreach at publicly accessible

Nomination Process and IBA Selection

Nominations are reviewed by the Maine IBA Technical Committee, a group of almost two dozen natural resource professionals and citizens with expertise and knowledge about Maine’s bird populations. The committee will meet in the fall of 2013 to review the next round of IBAs.

The IBA Program seeks to identify the most important and highest priority areas across the state for bird conservation; however, every area that supports an endangered or threatened species does not necessarily qualify as an IBA. Rather, areas that are nominated are compared to each other and those deemed most important relative to the others are selected as IBAs.

Review of Maine IBAs will be necessary over time as bird conservation concerns change and species lists used as the basis for IBA criteria are updated (e.g., endangered and threatened species, special concern species, Partners in Flight priority ratings).

Nomination Criteria

Areas nominated for an IBA met at least one of three primary criteria. Two secondary criteria sometimes strengthened the case for nomination.

Primary Criteria

  • Areas for threatened and endangered species
  • Areas for species of conservation concern
  • Areas with subtantial concentrations of birds and/or high species

Secondary Criteria

  • Areas important for research/monitoring
  • Areas for species associated with rare, vulnerable, or exemplary
    habitat types

IBA Selection

IBAs are selected based on how well they meet the criteria. although these criteria are not absolute and should be viewed as guidelines only. Other factors, such as relative importance or a unique combination of characteristics, may be considered when making final IBA selections.

IBAs may be dropped as bird populations and the associated IBA criteria change over time, and new IBAs may be added.


Background on Maine IBAs »