Important Bird Areas, (IBAs) are sites that provide essential habitat for one or more species of birds. IBAs include sites for breeding, wintering, and/or migrating birds. IBAs may be a few acres or thousands of acres, but usually they 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.
Arizona’s Important Bird Areas (IBA) Program was established with Audubon in 2001. The program is co-administered between Audubon Arizona and the Tucson Audubon Society. Tucson Audubon laid the groundwork for and coordinated the IBA program full-time from 2002 through 2004. Learn more about the Arizona IBA program here: Arizona Important Bird Area Programs.
Northern Arizona Audubon members have worked diligently to designate several IBAs in Northern Arizona. Currently we are stewards of the following IBAs.
Anderson Mesa IBA
Anderson Mesa is a globally recognized IBA due its strong presence of Pinyon Jays. Located southeast of Flagstaff, Anderson Mesa is a mix of permanent, semi-permanent lakes and wetlands, ephemeral wetlands, grasslands, pinyon-juniper and coniferous forests. For detailed information visit this IBA website.
This IBA is notable for its extensive wetlands within the desert-like Verde Valley. It consists of a 2-mile stretch of the Verde River riparian corridor, Pecks Lake, associated riparian and upland habitats, and Tavasci marsh, a spring-fed marsh of approximately 70 acres. The marsh habitat stands out for its uniqueness in Arizona, and its populations of Least Bittern and Virginia’s Rail, Belted Kingfisher, Great Blue Heron (in winter), with rare Yuma Clapper Rail detection. For detailed information visit this IBA website.
Lower Oak Creek IBA
Lower Oak Creek emerges from the steep canyon walls among the red ramparts of Sedona – just a mile or two upstream of Red Rock State Park and meanders the next several miles to Page Springs. Northern Arizona Audubon Society (NAAS) and AGFD jointly manage the vegetated land at Page Springs for the benefit and diversity of wildlife. A public-access trail system with educational signage has been put in place and plant restoration programs are on-going. This riparian corridor IBA is exceptional for Arizona. It is a significant migration corridor that supports exceptional land bird diversity and abundance in spring and fall migration. And it is a premier riparian habitat corridor supporting numerous riparian obligate species, many of which are species of conservation concern in Arizona such as the Common Black-Hawk and Yellow-billed Cuckoo. For detailed information visit this IBA website.
Camp Verde IBA
Located along a 17 mile stretch of the middle section of the Verde River, this IBA celebrates a healthy riparian corridor located in an otherwise arid environment. Starting from Parsons Park just west of I-17, the IBA follows the Verde River and includes the section of Wet Beaver Creek that extends up to Montezuma Castle National Monument and terminates at Rockin’ River Ranch State Park.
The Verde River is one of Arizona’s last remaining perennially flowing river systems, with healthy riparian vegetation, including the extremely rare Fremont Cottonwood-Gooding Willow gallery forest type. It provides a unique habitat that is preferred by bird species of concern, such as Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, Common Black Hawk, Bell’s Vireo, Yellow Warbler, and Lucy’s Warbler.
Currently, the best access points to this IBA are Rezzonico Park in Camp Verde and the Clear Creek campground area in Coconino National Forest. Future access points include Parsons Park in Camp Verde, Homestead Park in Prescott National Forest, and Rockin’ River Ranch State Park which are all planned to be opened to the public after development is complete. For detailed information visit this IBA website.