Across the planet, Important Bird Areas (“IBAs”) signify places which have been designated as critical for bird conservation.
In each, an internationally accepted set of guidelines has been used in conjunction with a recognized birding program. In this country, that effort is run through the National Audubon Society.
The Ohio Important Bird Areas Program was launched in 1999, and by 2000 work was underway to identify the first such areas. The technical committee established reviewed over 150 nominations to verify that one of the four primary criteria set is present. A total of 66 have been recognized to date.
Across the state, the Ohio Program has served as a catalyst for community-based actions to ensure the long-term stewardship and conservation of the state’s diverse natural resources. A state-wide technical committee continues to prioritize monitoring and conservation planning on different sites. Workshops to recruit and train volunteers for surveying birds on IBAs have been conducted across the state. Community partners are receptive and actively engaged in the program. Advocacy for IBAs at risk has been effective.
Two of those are in Richland County.
The Mansfield Lahm Airport Important Bird Area consists of open grassy fields, mostly within grounds of the airport, as well as in surrounding agricultural areas. Mowed open areas are associated with the airport and National Guard facilities.
A breeding site for Upland Sandpiper and other grassland birds, it may hold 1-5% of the state breeding population of Upland Sandpiper. Other areas outside/bordering the airport are privately owned but are used by the Upland Sandpipers and Henslow’s Sparrows.
The Pleasant Hill Lake Important Bird Area is adjacent to the Mohican IBA, but is distinguished from that IBA, reflecting the character of the open water as distinct from Mohican proper. Here there are good concentrations of Bald Eagles in the winter and unusual waterfowl (e.g. scoters) occur annually.
Richland County also has several Ohio Birding Drives and Ohio Birding Day Hikes, which we will look at in a future post.
Sources: Birding in Ohio; Wikipedia; Audubon Society