Important Bird Areas

Illinois Important Bird Areas Program

The Important Bird Areas (IBA) program is an international effort to identify, conserve, and monitor a network of sites that provide essential habitat for bird populations. The Illinois IBA program began in December 2002. The goals of the Illinois program are to quickly identify the state's most important bird areas and the threats to them, and to form conservation teams that can implement needed actions.

Nominating a site as an Important Bird Area

Below is an overview of categories for which you can nominate a site. 

Rare Species - site is important for rare breeding species.

Migrant Birds - site is important for migrant birds.

Waterfowl - site hosts large concentrations of waterfowl (5,000+)

Shorebirds - site hosts 2,000+ shorebirds at one time.

Wading Birds - site has 100+ pairs of herons during the summer.

Raptors - site records 1,000+ raptors during one season.

Wintering Birds - site hosts high numbers of wintering species of concern.

Rare Habitat - site represents a rare or unique habitat type.

Migrant Habitat IBA's

Migrant Stopover IBA's are sites that regularly host large concentrations of warblers and other migrant species in the spring and fall. Sites that shelter high concentrations of migrant landbirds and/or sites that are important due to their isolation from other areas with similar habitat will be reviewed.

Although these sites may or may not qualify for breeding birds, they may be very important for warblers, thrushes, flycatchers, vireos, sparrows, and other birds that migrate through Illinois. Migrant birds can travel considerable distances during the night (and into the day). Their continued survival is highly dependant upon the availability of food at the locations where they stop to rest between flights and upon the availability of necessary cover to avoid predators and elements of natures.

Isolated sites are surrounded by areas with little migrant bird habitata. They provide food and shelter for migrating birds that would otherwise not be present. Without These sites, birds must exert undue enrgy to continue further  or stop at a site with little food, decreased cover, and an increased threat from predators.

Complex or Corridor sites are larger sites that provide sustenance to great numbers of migrants, such as the Chicago lakefront, a river corridr, or a large tract of woodland or forest (20,000 acres or more).

The Chicago Lakefront is a prime example of an important Migrant Stopover Site. The stretch of parks along Lake Michigan act as a haven for the thousands of birds that migrate up and down the Lake Michigan Flyway each year. The Chicago area is also heavily developed, increasing the vital role that these small green spaces play in the survival of birds.

To view detailed information about IBA sites in Illinois, visit Audubon's Illinois IBA page.

Contact the IBA coordinator if you plan to submit an application or for additional information:

Stephanie Beilke
Audubon Great Lakes
125 S Wacker Dr, Ste 2125
Chicago, IL 60602
Phone: 312.453.0230 x 2009


Become an IBA Volunteer Steward
Important Bird Areas

Volunteer as a IBA Site Steward

Volunteers play an important role in the ongoing management of IBA's in Illinois. Find an Important Bird Area near your home and see how you can get involved by becoming a Site Steward

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Get Involved
Get Involved

Get Involved

Join local outdoor enthusiasts and conservationists in you area.

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Conservation Volunteers
Get Involved

Conservation Volunteers

Get outdoors with the local conservation community and make a difference for birds and the places they need.

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Ways You Can Help