Iowa bird conservation area recognized
BOONE — Iowa Audubon, the National Audubon Society and BirdLife International have announced Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ Effigy Mounds-Yellow River Forest Bird Conservation Area has been named a “Globally Important Bird Area.”
A major conservation landmark, this international recognition highlights the Iowa region’s key role in the global movement to study, protect and preserve at-risk birds.
The Important Bird Area Program is an international effort to designate sites critical to declining bird species for nesting or as stopovers for large concentrations of migrating birds. The highest honor for any Important Bird Area, or IBA, is to be named a Globally Important Bird Area, which entails meeting strict requirements backed by documentation of a site’s importance to imperiled birds.
“We are honored that the Effigy Mounds-Yellow River Forest Bird Conservation Area has achieved this international recognition,” said Doug Harr, president of Iowa Audubon, a statewide organization based in Boone. “Through years of monitoring and protecting at-risk birds and habitats, we realize this site is invaluable regionally and in the context of interrelated worldwide conservation work. The Globally Important Bird Area designation benefits Iowa region birds, conservation advancement and our communities.”
More than 12,000 IBAs are currently are designated worldwide, with nearly 2,700 in the U.S. and 91 in Iowa. Iowa Audubon, an organization focused on bird conservation and community education in the Hawkeye State, oversees a complementary program of Important Bird Areas.
“Iowa Audubon and our regional partners understand the importance of protecting key sites for at-risk birds, and the Important Bird Area Program offers opportunities to succeed locally while helping to advance broader global conservation priorities,” Harr said.
The rugged, forested Effigy Mounds-Yellow River State Forest landscape in northeast Iowa was Iowa’s fourth Bird Conservation Area. At nearly 135,000 acres, it is one of the two largest of 18 Bird Conservation Areas created by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to date.
Effigy Mounds-Yellow River Forest IBA was found to preserve critical habitat for Cerulean Warblers. Surveyed by Jon Stravers, this bird of eastern U.S. forests has seen its population plummet 70 percent since 1966, according to results of the annual North American Breeding Bird Survey.
“We found that preserving this site would be imperative to protect and preserve one of our region’s most treasured species of birds,” Stravers said.
As a result of Stravers’ findings, Bird Conservation International announced in late August that Effigy Mounds-Yellow River Forest and surrounding lands had been given Iowa’s first official designation as a Globally Important Bird Area.
Cooperators in managing the Effigy Mounds-Yellow River Forrest IBA include the National Park Service, Iowa DNR, National Audubon Society, Iowa Audubon, US Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Allamakee and Clayton County Conservation Boards, and private landowners.
For more information about the IBA program, visit National Audubon’s IBA webpage at www.audubon.org/bird/iba and Iowa Audubon’s IBA webpage at www.iowaaudubon.org/IBA.
A DNR brochure about the Effigy Mounds-Yellow River Forest BCA/IBA, containing a complete bird species list for the area, can be found at www.iowadnr.gov/Portals/idnr/uploads/wildlife/bca/EffMo%20-%20YRF.pdf.