Iowa to Dedicate State's First Globally Important Bird Area
Posted: 05/13/2014
Iowa Audubon and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources will join on May 31, to officially dedicate DNR’s Effigy Mounds-Yellow River Forest Bird Conservation Area (BCA) as the state’s first Globally Important Bird Area. 

The dedication event begins at 11 a.m., at the Yellow River State Forest headquarters, located along Allamakee County Highway B25 southwest of Harper’s Ferry.   A field trip will leave from the state forest headquarters at 9 a.m., returning in time for the dedication ceremony.

This international recognition highlights Iowa’s role in the global movement to study, protect and preserve at-risk birds.

Important Bird Areas (IBA) are part of an international system designating sites critical to declining species of birds for nesting or for large migratory concentrations.  Several requirements must be met to achieve basic IBA status, and globally important status must be backed by extensive documentation for reaching such international standing.

“The particular bird that brought such recognition to northeast Iowa is the cerulean warbler, a species that has declined by 70 percent nationally since the 1960s,” said Doug Harr, president of Iowa Audubon, a statewide bird conservation and education organization based in Boone. 

“Bird researcher Jon Stravers, of Elkader, has spent several years documenting that Effigy Mounds National Monument, Yellow River State Forest and thousands of surrounding forested private acres provide some of the Midwest’s most critical Cerulean Warbler habitat.”

The IBA program is conducted worldwide by BirdLife International, based in Great Britain.  Each nation provides a partner, which in the U.S. is the National Audubon Society, with Iowa Audubon conducting the program at local state level. 

In 2006, Iowa Audubon awarded IBA status to all of DNR’s Bird Conservation Areas, currently numbering 18 statewide. BCAs are large landscapes containing a core of permanently protected habitat, and where a good amount of suitable bird habitat exists on surrounding private lands.  These sites offer large expanses of habitat for entire communities of bird life.  Bruce Ehresman, DNR wildlife diversity program biologist and avian ecologist directs the agency’s BCA system.

“We are extremely pleased that Iowa’s largest and highest quality forested landscape now has international recognition,” said Ehresman.  “This BCA-IBA has tremendous value not only to cerulean warblers but also to a large variety of forest birds and other wildlife.  Now we have good reason to assist with more protection and better management of woodlands, both on public and private lands. International recognition should also result in a tourism increase—especially by birders—for northeast Iowa.  That will, in turn, benefit the local economy.”

Information about Effigy Mounds-Yellow River Forest BCA/IBA, containing a complete bird species list for the area, may be found at www.iowadnr.gov/Portals/idnr/uploads/wildlife/bca/EffMo%20-%20YRF.pdf

More information about the Important Bird Area program is available at www.audubon.org/bird/iba/ and www.iowaaudubon.org/IBA/.