Florida's Important Bird Area Program supports the persistence of our state's native avifauna and native habitats through sound land management, habitat preservation, and the work of volunteer citizen scientists. Florida's birds and their habitats are under continued pressure from habitat loss and fragmentation, fire exclusion, proliferation of exotic and invasive species, and various forms of human disturbance.
The Florida IBA program launched in 1999 with Audubon leading an Executive Committee comprised of some of the state's leading ornithologists. State-appropriate selection criteria were in place by 2000 and the committee completed prioritization of nominated sites by 2002. One hundred State IBAs were selected, a list comprised of important migration stopover areas as well as areas important to breeding and overwintering birds. The Important Bird Areas of Florida book will be published in 2013 as a Special Publication of the Florida Ornithological Society, co-funded by Audubon Florida.
The IBA program benefits from a number of partnership organizations including the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida Park Service, Department of Environmental Protection, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of Defense, municipal governments, faculty from State universities and private colleges, and a host of non-profit organizations. In cooperation with these organizations, a host of dedicated volunteers help us monitor and steward the health of IBA bird populations and advocate for public policies that strengthen bird and habitat protection.
Coastal breeding shorebirds and seabirds benefit from Audubon stewardship programs at more than 20 coastal IBAs statewide that include monthly surveys of nests, chicks, and fledged young conducted in partnership with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC). A statewide winter shorebird survey is conducted annually in February at most state IBAs in partnership with FFWCC and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The newest addition to Audubon's IBA program is Jay Watch - a training and survey protocol for citizen scientists to tally the endemic and federally-listed Florida Scrub-jays at 25 preserves across the state and to conduct vegetation surveys that indicate the need for application of prescribed fire to maintain optimum habitat quality. Trainings are held throughout the state annually in May and June; surveys are conducted annually in June and July.
Please take a moment to explore National Audubon's brand new IBA Program website.