Neotropical Migrants in Important Bird Areas
Many bird species migrate in order to survive. Migration is, however, a perilous journey, presenting a wide range of threats, many of which result from human activities. And as diverse as people and their habits in different countries are, so are the threats that birds face. The loss and degradation of habitats through settlement, agriculture, infrastructural developments and pollution are the main threats to migrating birds. However, high-voltage power lines, tower blocks and window turbines have dramatic impacts on birds, and hunting remains a widespread problem.
Migrating birds are dependent on finding suitable breeding and wintering grounds as well as stopover sites along their flyways where they can rest and breed. The loss of any such areas used by the birds during their annual cycle can have a major impact on the birds’ chances of survival. Effective conservation of migratory birds thus requires action beyond any one set of political borders, ensuring the protection of key sites and habitats throughout the species’ range.
The recent Partners in Flight publication “Making Connections for Bird Conservation” uses maps to summarize migratory connections between individual US states, Canadian provinces and territories and the regions that support these same species at the other end of their migratory movements. While the maps in this publication are an excellent starting point for illustrating migratory connections, they do not permit connections to be made between individual sites.
One approach to securing the long-term survival of a region’s birds –migrants and residents alike– has been to identify, document and then seek protection for sites of international importance for birds, namely Important Bird Areas (IBAs). BirdLife International has been implementing an IBA program throughout the Americas for the last five years. IBAs are identified on the basis of objective, globally accepted criteria that highlight sites important for globally threatened birds, restricted-range and biome-restricted birds, and birds that congregate in significant numbers (such as breeding seabirds, waterbirds and migratory birds). The network of IBAs represents a unique opportunity to link globally important sites in the breeding, passage and wintering ranges of individual migratory species, and to conserve both resident and migratory biodiversity.
Since 2003, BirdLife International has been compiling information on Neotropical migrants in the Americas to support efforts to conserve critical areas for both resident and migratory birds sharing the same habitat. This web site provides extensive information on Neotropical migrants in: