The IBA identification process provides a data-driven means for cataloging Washington’s most important sites for birds, using a set of standardized criteria applied worldwide.
An Important Bird Area is a site providing essential habitat for one or more native species of birds in Washington at any time in their annual life cycle. Sites vary in size, and are usually distinguishable from surrounding areas in character, habitat, or ornithological importance.
In general, IBAs are predominantly natural areas. While any avid bird watcher can name a dozen great places to go bird watching, these are not necessarily Important Bird Areas. Human-made habitats that attract birds, such as parks and golf courses, are generally not suitable for IBA status. However, some intensively managed landscapes such as pastures and CRP lands may qualify, as long as they support noteworthy bird populations.
The criteria are divided into three major categories at three geographic scales. Sites meeting one or more of these criteria may qualify as Important Bird Areas at the state, continental, or global scale.