Important Bird Areas | Montana Audubon

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Important Bird Areas

The IBA Program

GlacierIBAsmallThe long-term conservation of birds and their habitats is a major goal of Montana Audubon. Central to this goal is the Important Bird Areas (IBA) Program which is a global initiative to identify, monitor, and protect a network of sites critical for the conservation of birds. Since 1995, the National Audubon Society has taken the lead in implementing the IBA Program in the US, and Montana Audubon administers the program in Montana.

MadisonIBAwebsmall IBAs are part of a conservation strategy that focuses attention on key habitats and bird species. The concept is simple: to identify and compile an inventory of areas that sustain healthy populations of birds (usually species of conservation concern), and then focus conservation efforts on these sites so that their qualities can be maintained. Habitat conservation is then achievable through acquisitions or easements, establishing voluntary best practices or management agreements, or through other protective measures. IBA designations are not legally binding.

By focusing attention on areas that are especially critical to birds during some or all stages of their annual cycle, the IBA Program is a valuable tool for setting conservation priorities.


Explore Important Bird Areas across the U.S.

The IBA Program in Montana


At present, the Montana IBA Committee has approved 42 Important Bird Areas in the state. Two braided sections of the Yellowstone River are the most recent additions and the committee is considering expanding the Ninepipe IBA.

Maps and information for each of the 42 sites are publically available.

Globally Significant IBAs

In Montana, we now have 11 IBAs identified as globally significant priority designation from National Audubon. These include the following (including A1 trigger species):

  • Glaciated Prairie Sage-steppe – Greater-Sage Grouse
  • Mussellshell Sage-steppe – Greater-Sage Grouse
  • Bridger Sage-steppe – Greater-Sage Grouse
  • Powder/Carter Sage-steppe – Greater-Sage Grouse
  • Beaverhead Sage-steppe – Greater-Sage Grouse
  • Hebgen Lake – Trumpeter Swan
  • Little Beaver Creek – Mountain Plovers
  • North Valley Grasslands – Chestnut-collared Longspur, Sprague’s Pipit
  • Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge – Greater-Sage Grouse, Mountain Plover, Chestnut-collared longspur, Sprague’s Pipit
  • Westby Prairie-Wetland Complex – Piping Plover, Sprague’s Pipit, Chestnut-collared Longspur
  • Glacier National Park – Olive-sided Flycatcher
  • Canyon Ferry Wildlife Management Area – American White Pelican
  • Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge – American White Pelican

Canyon Ferry Wildlife Management Area and Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge were the two most recent IBAs to receive global recognition for the high numbers of nesting American White Pelicans they support.

New IBA Nominations

Individuals, Audubon Chapters, and other groups may be interested in identifying and proposing new IBAs for Montana.

We know there are many potential sites across the state, but in order to qualify as an IBA, the area must meet specific criteria and include recent bird data. Once this information is compiled into a nomination packet, an independent Technical Committee reviews the nomination and either approves, asks for more data or information, or does not approve the candidate site.

At this time, the Committee has asked us to refrain from making new nominations until a review of Montana’s state IBA criteria is completed.

For more information on the Important Bird Areas Program (IBA), “adopting” an IBA, or new designations, please contact Montana Audubon at [email protected].

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