Important Bird Areas
Important Bird Areas (IBA) are areas that provide essential habitat to one or more species of birds. These areas may be important breeding, wintering, and/or resting areas during spring or fall migration. IBA's vary in size but are usually discrete and distinguishable in character, habitat or ornithological importance from surrounding areas.
National Audubon Society is the U.S. partner for Bird Life International which is primarily responsible for leading the effort to identify, monitor, and protect important places for birds. To date Audubon has identified 41 IBA's in Indiana covering almost 750,000 acres (Link to Indiana IBA's). Of the 41 Indiana IBA's, three are found in southwest Indiana and are regularly visited by local birdwatchers: Lynnville-Squaw Creek Mine Complex, Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge, and Cane Ridge Wildlife Management Area.
To qualify as an IBA, one or more of the following criteria need to be met:
Site supports an endangered or threatened species.
Site important to a species of high conservation priority.
Site contains rare or unique habitat within the state, or site is an exceptional representative of a natural habitat and that holds important species or species assemblages largely restricted to a distinctive habitat.
A site that regularly holds significant concentrations of one or more species.
Sites that are important for long-term research and/or monitoring that contribute substantially to ornithology, bird conservation, and/or education.
Lynnville-Squaw Creek IBA
The Lynnville-Squaw Creek Mine complex represents one of the largest reclaimed grassland habitats in the state. In addition to grasslands, scrub-shrub habitat and strip-mine ponds provide homes to birds such as; Henslow's and grasshopper sparrows, willow flycatchers, Bell's vireo, Northern bobwhite, eastern meadowlarks and dickcissels.
Link to Birding Hotspot Page for Lynnville IBA
Patoka River NWR IBA
Patoka River NWR represents one of the most significant bottomland hardwood ecosystems in Indiana. The bottomlands along with scrubland, grassland and marsh habitat results in a rich and abundant bird community. Examples of important bird species at Patoka include, cerulean, prothonotary, and Kentucky warblers, American bitterns, yellow-crowned night herons, whooping cranes, dickcissel and Henslow's sparrow.
Cane Ridge WMA IBA
Cane Ridge supports one of the most important nesting colonies of the interior least tern. Cane Ridge and the adjacent Gibson Lake and surrounding habitat provides critical wetland areas for migrating and wintering waterfowl, shorebirds and gulls. Other birds of note include black-necked stilts, great egrets, black-crowned night herons, Wilson phalarope, and bald eagles.
Please note that adjacent to Cane Ridge and in Illinois is the Illinois-Wabash River IBA.