Birds and Birding

Important Bird Areas

The Important Bird Area (IBA) Program is an international effort to identify areas that provide critical habitat to birds at some stage of their annual cycle, be it breeding, migration, or winter.

The program began in Europe in 1981 and soon spread to Africa and Asia, with the United States initiating its program in 1996. Today, IBA programs are in place in over 100 countries and most states, including New Hampshire. Birdlife International ( is the parent organization of the IBA Program, and serves to oversee international coordination. In the United States the IBA Program is coordinated by the National Audubon Society (

The NH IBA Program began in 2001 with the development of IBA criteria by the state Partner’s in Flight working group. Since that time, 17 IBAs have been identified across the state, from northern conifer forests to major river valleys to coastal islands and salt marshes. These areas represent some of the best habitats used by NH’s breeding, migrating, and wintering birds, and are intended to serve as foci for future conservation and education efforts.

See more information about the New Hampshire IBA program, including criteria, data needs, and a list of sites.

Project Leader: Pam Hunt

Photos, from the top: Beginning birding class outing by Dyanna Smith, Common Terns (staff photo).