What do Pungo-Pocosin Lake, Lea-Hutaff Island and Highlands Plateau all have in common? They’re all home to some of North Carolina’s 96 Important Bird Areas (IBA). Audubon North Carolina’s IBA program serves to promote the conservation of vital bird habitat on a local and global scale. From the mountains to the coastal plain, scientists and conservationists are able to utilize IBAs to focus their efforts and protect declining bird populations.
IBAs have the ability to help bird populations survive and thrive! The 4.9 million acres that make-up our statewide IBA program are an integral piece of the conservation puzzle that brings together resources from partner organizations, researchers and citizen scientists all in the name of protecting our birds. These are essential habitats for one or more bird species of conservation concern during their annual cycle of breeding, nesting, migrating or wintering. Without healthy habitats for our birds to nest and rest, bird populations will decline.
IBAs have shown tangible results that can be felt across the state:
- Pungo-Pocosin Lakes – IBA data helped stave off the placement of a Navy Outlying Landing Field where jets could have collided with the thousands of Tundra Swans and Snow Geese that winter in the refuge.
- Lea-Hutaff – As bare sand habitat becomes increasingly scarce, Lea-Hutaff and other coastal IBAs become increasingly important for Black Skimmers and terns.
- Highlands Plateau – This IBA is one of North Carolina’s most important sites for a variety of migrating warblers and other northern species that are at the southern point of their range in Highlands. Several conservation organizations are working together to extend and enhance this IBA.
A Global Plan for Local Conservation
As birds travel across continents and hemispheres during their migrations, their habitats are at risk all over the world. Problems they face include pollution, habitat degradation, invasive species and more.
Audubon NC is engaging our citizens to get involved in protecting many vital areas for birds as they nest and rest in our state. In North Carolina, there are 30 locations that are recognized as globally significant IBAs – IBAs that support the entire global population of a species - supporting the health of specific species of birds, such as the Wood Thrush.
And it’s paying off! Virtually every conservation organization and state and federal conservation agency in North Carolina incorporates IBA data in their planning and decision-making. This has led to healthier bird populations and stronger conservation efforts across our state.
Learn more about the Wood Thrush
The Wood thrush is just one example of the many bird species that have benefitted from our work in IBAs on a local and global level. After a significant population decline, efforts to save this beloved bird have been organized through international partnerships and researchers gaining a better understanding of its lifecycle. Learn more about the conservation of the Wood Thrush by following its journey through our global IBAs in this short video.