What are Important Bird Areas?
Important Bird Areas are sites that provide essential habitat for one or more species of birds. IBAs include sites for breeding, wintering, or migrating birds. IBAs may be a few acres or thousands of acres, but usually are discrete sites that stand out from the surrounding landscape. IBAs may include public or private lands, or both, and they may be protected or unprotected. The IBA Program aims to stop habitat loss by setting science-based priorities for habitat conservation and promoting positive action to safeguard vital bird habitats. Vermont's IBA program started in 1997. Currently, eighteen states have IBA Programs in progress or getting underway.
How Will IBAs Help Birds?
By focusing attention on the most essential and vulnerable areas, the IBA Program helps to promote proactive habitat conservation. The information gathered in the process of identifying IBAs guides land-use planning and resource management decisions, so that birds and their habitat needs are taken into account. IBAs are a natural focus of volunteer monitoring projects, which lead to positive local stewardship and advocacy. Designation of a site as an IBA is both a tool for assisting private landowners and public land managers and a rationale for preserving habitat from threats. Most important, the IBA Program is the starting point for site-based conservation planning, involving local stakeholders in a process that takes all interests into account.
Ascutney Mountain Audubon Society hosts two Important Bird Areas. The first is located on Skitchewaug Mountain on Rt. 5 in Springfield. This mountain, which parallells the Connecticuit River, has nesting pairs of Ravens and Peregrine Falcons. For 50 years, the cliffs of Skitchewaug Mountain waited for the return of the Peregrines. With the decrease in use of deadly pesticides, the revival of the Connecticuit, and the reintroduction of the Peregrine to the northeast, it was only a matter of time before the falcons returned. In 1998, the frst nesting pair was spotted, and since then, the cliffs have been a home to these magnificent raptors.
Herrick's Cove is formed by the juncture of the Williams River and the Connecticuit in Rockingham, Vermont. In spring, it is a major stopover for migrating waterfowl. Over 300 species of birds have been identified at the Cove. On May 7, 2000, a Wildlfe Festival, co-sponsored by AMAS and PG&E Generating, was held at the Cove. At the festival, Herrick's Cove was dedicated as an Important Bird Area. With the continuing support of PG&E Generating, owner of Herrick's Cove, this wonderful IBA remains open to the public as an area to enjoy the great variety of wildlife in the Precision Valley Region.