Worldwide, more than 10,000 Important Bird Areas (IBA) have been identified. The United States has documented more than 2,100 IBAs. There are thousands more in Canada, Mexico, and throughout Central and South America.
An Important Bird Area is a site, terrestrial or aquatic, that provides essential habitat for one or more species of birds during breeding, wintering, and/or migration. The purpose of the IBA program is to identify sites essential to maintaining naturally occurring populations of birds, and to steward those sites for long-term conservation.
With the assistance of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Audubon began identifying Important Bird Areas in Washington in 1998. In 2001, we published Important Bird Areas of Washington, describing the first 53 IBAs in our state (regional links below). As with all IBA programs, Washington’s IBAs were chosen carefully, using standard biological criteria and expert ornithologists’ review.
- Region 1 - Pacific Coast
- Region 2 - Western Lowlands
- Region 3 - Cascade Mountains
- Region 4 - Columbia Basin
Audubon Washington conducted several additional rounds of IBA identification since the publication of Important Bird Areas of Washington, resulting in a total of 75 IBAs covering habitats as varied as the open waters of the Pacific Ocean and the arid shrub-steppe east of the Cascades. Through bird surveys and site monitoring, citizen-scientists are an invaluable part of our IBA effort.
Landowners and managers, planners, and the public can learn more about the IBA program, and can search Audubon Washington's IBA database for specific information about individual locations.