The Audubon Important Bird Areas Program was initiated in Indiana in 1998 through the commitment and comprehensive efforts of a volunteer coordinator and the establishment of the Indiana IBA technical committee. The committee is composed of the state's leading ornithologists, ecologists, and conservationists who represent various natural heritage, wildlife management and conservation, and academic and research institutions throughout Indiana. In January, 2005, the National Audubon Society hired James Cole as its first full-time IBA coordinator for Indiana.
Cole worked for almost 4 years to create an inventory of 40 locations within the state that contain reservoirs of bird abundance and diversity, identifying them as Important Bird Areas. In September, 2005, the first 13 state IBAs were identified. A second 13 sites were added in early 2006. A third round of 14 sites was added in May, 2007. In September of 2009, Dr. Ross Brittain was hired as the Indiana Director of Bird Conservation to replace James Cole as the National Audubon Society representative in the state. Dr. Brittain also serves as the Indiana IBA Coordinator and added one more IBA to the state in 2010 (Hillenbrand FWA).
A list of these sites, as well as sites for which Birding Guides have been written, can be found on the Site List. For each site many details can also be found here. A map shows the locations of all of the Important Bird Areas. In addition, you can find maps of the IBAs in three regions of the state: Northwest, Southwest and South Central.
Audubon selected the Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area as an IBA test-site for conservation initiatives. Audubon coordinated with the principle stakeholders at Goose Pond (IDNR, National Audubon Society, Sassafras Audubon Society, Ducks Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy and Indiana Wildlife Federation) to write a Goose Pond Bird Conservation Plan that will be jointly implemented By Audubon and IDNR staff and volunteers. The plan is now available (54 page pdf file, 2 MB) Goose Pond Bird Conservation Plan
Dr. Brittain's top priorities for Indiana bird conservation, in order, are:
- The Goose Pond Bird Conservation Plan
- A State-wide Bird Conservation Plan that he is developing in conjunction with the Indiana Biodiversity Initiative
- Urban bird conservation in the Indianapolis area, including demographic studies at Eagle Creek Park and collaborating with Amos W. Butler Audubon Society on the Wings Over Indy project. The Eagle Creek Park Breeding Bird Survey (47 page pdf file, 7.5 MB) is now completed.
- Baseline breeding bird data on IBAs throughout the state, including a USFWS grant to conduct surveys on forested IBAs using the protocol established by Purdue University's Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment (http://www.heeforeststudy.org/). Volunteers are needed to conduct breeding bird surveys at non-forested IBAs (e.g. grassland and wetland habitats).
- American Golden Plover IBA
Because the Indiana IBA Program is a voluntary initiative, its ultimate success depends on public awareness and volunteers. Our goal is increased advocacy and awareness for the protection of birds and their habitat by the public. As the initiative develops and more sites are identified and recognized, Hoosier bird-watchers will have available many opportunities to contribute to this conservation effort. Here are some things you can do:
- nominate additional sites,
- organize and conduct IBA bird surveys and field trips,
- adopt an IBA.
Adoption might include
- monitoring birds at the site,
- assessing threats,
- evaluating habitat condition,
- restoring habitat,
- assisting with the development of conservation plans or easements,
- conducting IBA presentations for potential partners,
- advocating on behalf of the IBA and the birds that are found there.
To view the progress of the IBA initiative throughout the country, visit http://www.audubon.org/bird/iba