ARIZONA IMPORTANT BIRD AREAS PROGRAM
CRITERIA FOR SITE SELECTION
National Audubon Society IBA Database State Codes for Site Criteria:
D1 US State: State Threatened Species (APIF and AZ Threatened)
D3 US State: Species in Rare/Unique Habitat
D4i US State: > 1% of State Population
D4ii US State: Waterfowl (state defined)
D4iii US State: Wading Birds (state defined)
D4iv US State: Seabirds/other Colonial Waterbirds (state defined)
D4v US State: Shorebirds (state defined)
D4vi US State: Raptors/Season (state defined)
D4vii: Outstanding Landbird Stop-Over
D5: Research & Education. A. Sites important for long-term research and/or monitoring
with publication of research. B. Sites supporting educational programs in which a
significant component of the program content focuses on avian ecology.
Arizona Important Bird Areas Program Criteria: Only one criterion is needed for
meeting approval of the site as an Arizona Important Bird Area (IBA).
D1. Sites Important to Endangered or Threatened Species, or to special
conservation status species in Arizona.
Description: Sites that regularly support significant breeding or non-breeding densities of
Federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) listed bird species (Endangered or Threatened),
Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) Threatened Birds (SGCN 1a & 1b),
priority bird species as identified in the current Arizona Partners in Flight Bird (APIF)
Conservation Plan, and/or Audubon’s WatchList species occurring in Arizona (Arizona
WatchList 2007). Arizona Partners in Flight, now the Arizona Bird Conservation
Initiative, is a working group of biologists and managers currently active in avian
conservation in Arizona. What constitutes significant densities will vary depending on
overall state distribution, abundance, and approximate percentage of statewide population
occurring at the proposed site. A review of available data will be conducted by the by the
IBA Program’s Director of Bird Conservation and AZ IBA Program Conservation
Biologist and the statewide Arizona IBA Science Committee to determine a site’s
significance to given species state, national, and continental population.
This criterion for IBA nomination applies primarily to breeding or wintering sites, though
regular migratory areas may be considered if known to be of exceptional importance. It
may also include sites with a significant complement of these species. Species are listed
in Appendix 3.
D3. Sites that contain rare or unique habitat or are an exceptional representative of
an ecological community type, and that hold important species or species
assemblages largely restricted to a distinctive habitat or ecological community type.
Description: 1. Sites with habitats that are rare or unique in the state (important
ecologically due to their rarity), which hold significant numbers or diversity of bird
species restricted to these habitats. 2. Sites that are exceptional examples of larger
ecological community types (relatively intact) that should support, or could be managed
to support, the full complement of bird species dependant on that ecological community
type (important for the conservation of large scale ecological processes of which avian
communities are a part of). Consideration will also be given to sites with exceptionally
high species and habitat diversity, and some attempt will be made to distribute
representative sites throughout the state.
Type 1: Importance to species (or species assemblages) restricted to rare (or unique)
habitat types. The following habitats qualify: riparian areas dominated with native
vegetation, and perennial or seasonal water (low and high elev. sites), wetlands
(cienegas), lakes/playas, lowland canyons (with structurally diverse mesic-riparian
habitat), mountain meadow or alpine habitat, and cliff/butte raptor nesting habitat or
assemblage of nesting and foraging habitat. Other restricted habitat types are open to
Type 2: Landscape level ecological community types that are relatively intact or have the
potential to be restored by allowing or managing for the occurrence of natural (historical)
ecological processes. The scale of nominated IBAs should be appropriate for providing
for the conservation of ecosystem associated complete avian communities. The
following ecological community types qualify: large river corridors (with permanent
open water) and associated riparian habitat, native grasslands (low and high elev. sites),
large old growth forest tracts, large broadleaf or mixed forest stands, large (or extensive)
canyon/cliff riverine complexes, and large Sonoran, Chihuahuan, or Mohave desert
landscapes (with outstanding structural, vegetative, and geophysiographic diversity, i.e.,
extensive desert landscapes particularly with washes, and exceptional vegetative and
topographic diversity). Other landscape level ecological community types are open to
D4. Sites where significant numbers of birds concentrate for breeding, during
migration, or in winter.
Description: Sites that regularly hold significant numbers of one or more species,
breeding or non-breeding, including migrants. Introduced, feral, and nuisance species
(e.g., resident Canada Goose, European Starling, House Sparrow) should not be included.
ARIZONA IBA Criteria for Significant Concentration of Birds:
(2a) Waterfowl: The site regularly supports at least 2,000 waterfowl (at one time) during
some part of the year. The designation “waterfowl” includes such birds as geese, ducks,
(2b) Waterbirds: The site regularly supports a “significant concentration” (at one time)
of Cormorants, Coots, Gulls, Grebes, Loons, Moorhens, Pelicans, Rails, or Terns.
(2c) Shorebirds: The site regularly supports at least 100 shorebirds (at one time) during
some part of the year. The designation “shorebirds” includes such birds as plovers,
sandpipers, stilts, avocets, snipe, woodcock, and phalaropes.
(2d) Wading Birds: The site regularly supports a “significant concentration” of wading
birds during some part of the year. The designation “wading birds” includes such birds
as bitterns, egrets, herons, storks, and ibises.
(2e) Raptors: The site is regularly an important stop-over site, "bottleneck", or migratory
corridor for at least 1,000 raptors (seasonal total) during spring or fall migration. The site
is a regular over-wintering area for raptors (at least 200 individuals). The site is
encompasses a significant nesting concentration of raptors (# to be reviewed).
(2f) Cranes: The site regularly supports 2000 or more cranes (includes migratory stop-
over sites, and over-wintering areas- both roosts and feeding areas).
(2g) Landbirds (migration/seasonal concentration): The site is an important migratory
stop-over or seasonal concentration site for migratory landbirds. Sites may qualify on the
basis of exceptionally high numbers of birds during migration, high density of breeding
or over-wintering species as shown from point counts or other surveys. Strong
consideration will be given to areas with consistently high overall species diversity or
diversity within a particular group (e.g., warblers, flycatchers, sparrows, etc.).
The numerical criteria (2a-2g) are guidelines only. Other factors such as the importance
of site to a species range wide distribution, thus the quality of the habitat and location of
the site in a range wide landscape context. Criterion for (2g, landbird density/diversity) is
to cover exceptional sites to which numerical criteria may not be easily applied, such as
migrant traps for landbirds.
D5. Supportive Criteria- Research & Education. A. Sites important for long-term
research and/or monitoring with publication of research. B. Sites supporting
educational programs in which a significant component of the program content
focuses on avian ecology.
Description: D5. A. Sites supporting long-term research and /or monitoring with
publication of research in journals such as, Western Birds, Journal of Field Ornithology,
Southwestern Naturalist, Condor, etc. Research should be substantially contributing to
the fields of ornithology, avian ecology, or bird conservation. Audubon’s Christmas Bird
Count areas, North American Count areas, and Breeding Bird Survey routes and the like,
will not qualify.
D5. B. Sites supporting educational programs in which a significant component of the
program content focuses on avian ecology/behavior, bird identification, avian
biodiversity/adaptations, or the value of native habitat for birds. Sites may be natural,
urban, suburban, or rural, but should retain or promote significant native habitat. Sites
where habitat restoration is a significant management goal, and educates the public the
value of restored habitat to birds will also be included in this category.