The Iowa Important Bird Areas program, a partnership between the Iowa Ornithologists' Union, Iowa Audubon, the Department of Natural Resources, and other public and private entities, uses citizen science to identify areas within the state which are 1) important to breeding birds; 2) important for migration staging; or 3) important wintering roosts. 43 criteria species - endangered, threatened, or of conservation concern - have been chosen as indicators of these areas.
The Iowa DNR has incorporated a number of these IBAs into larger Bird Conservation Areas. A BCA has at least 10,000 acres of public/private land that includes 30% of the area as key bird habitat. These sites are identified on the birdinghotspots.org guide by going to "Find Hotspots" and "Group locations". Here you will find downloadable brochures and checklists for the BCAs.
IOU members have been very active in providing observation data which in turn provides the information necessary to make an IBA designation for nominated sites. The first site, Hitchcock Nature Area in Pottawattamie County, was designated at the IOU fall meeting in 2003. In the photo Park Ranger Chad Greve is shown accepting the designation from the IBA Coordinator Ric Zarwell.
Many of Iowa's IBAs are not only important for the conservation of birds but are also good areas to look for many species. Be sure to look at the details of these areas on the Iowa Audubon web site or birdinghotspots.org. Data for monitoring these sites comes from the IOU data entry and eBird.