wood thrush

Introducing…IBAs in Ontario Parks!

We’re jazzed to introduce a new series for 2017 — IBAs in provincial parks — brought to you by Ontario IBA Coordinator Amanda Bichel of Bird Studies Canada. If you love birds, you won’t want to miss these monthly features.

Wondering what an IBA is? The acronym stands for “Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas.”

The IBA program aims to identify, monitor and protect the world’s most important sites for birds and biodiversity.

How are IBAs chosen?

Globally there are over 12,000 sites. Of these, 600 are in Canada, and 70 are in Ontario. In Canada, IBAs are identified at three levels – global, continental, and national – based on types and numbers of birds present.

Canada’s IBAs are designated for meeting one of two criteria:

1. Hosting large numbers of birds (1% of the global or continental population, mainly various waterbirds)

Long-tailed ducks

Yes, you read that right: many IBAs contain more than 1% of the entire world’s population!

A good example of bird congregations is the West End of Lake Ontario IBA, where long-tailed ducks regularly occur in VERY large numbers. In fact, in the fall of 2015, more than 5% of the continental population visited the IBA. The record high is 200,000 long-tailed ducks in ONE DAY, which represents 3% of the global population, and an astounding 20% of the continental population!

Check here for more species that are seen in remarkable numbers at this IBA.

2. Species that are listed as threatened

Species may be either globally (IUCN) or nationally (COSEWIC) at risk.

Acadian flycatcher
Acadian flycatcher

The Norfolk Forest Complex IBA, for instance, is a stronghold haven for numerous at-risk forest songbirds. These include species like the Acadian flycatcher, which consistently has breeding pairs in the IBA (click here to see their species table).

Conservation synergy!

Of the 70 IBAs in Ontario, only 29 are overlapped by some type of formal protection, but 25 of those overlap with provincial parks.

places IBAs intersect with parks

To highlight locations where our worlds intersect, Ontario Parks and the Ontario IBA Program are teaming up to bring you one full year of highlights!

We’ll cover parks you might recognize — like Long Point and Presqu’ile Provincial Parks — and other places you might have never heard of, including Polar Bear and Carden Alvar Provincial Parks.

We’ll also be including tips for helping us protect birds and biodiversity (and some truly beautiful pictures of Ontario’s winged species and protected spaces!).

Check back monthly for our year-long journey through Ontario’s wonderful IBAs and beautiful provincial parks!

IBA logo

And while you’re at it, why not sign up for the IBA Ontario enewsletter?