National IBA Meeting Brings Together Provincial Partners

IBA annual meeting Port Rowan
Mara Kerry, director of conservation, Ted Cheskey, manager of bird conservation (5th & 6th from top, clockwise)

Three of Nature Canada’s staff are presently participating in an annual national meeting of Important Bird Area program partners. Bird Studies Canada is hosting the meeting this year at their wonderful head quarters located in Port Rowan at the base of Long Point on Lake Erie.

Long Point is the largest freshwater sand spite in North America. It extends 40km into Lake Erie, reaching out almost half way across the lake. As such, it is a significant area for migratory birds. Today alone we have seen barn swallows, purple martins, bald eagles, killdeer, and at least another 20 species. Long Point is also home to the hemisphere’s oldest bird banding station. Over the last 50 years, scientists, students, volunteers and staff have banded some 830,000 individual birds.

The annual IBA meeting brings together provincial partners from across the country to plan, coordinate and share information and tools. The focus of this year’s meeting is on developing our technical tools and capacity. We have heard updates on the great progress that is being made to steward and protect IBAs across the country, from British Columbia to Newfoundland and Labrador. A special guest from National Audubon, John Cecil the national IBA manger in the USA, gave a comprehensive overview of the IBA program south of the border. It seems we share many of the same challenges and opportunities with our southern colleague and there are exciting opportunities to collaborate and learn from each other.

Each year we expand our reach by recruiting more “caretakers” to take on stewardship responsibility for an IBA. Each year, we seek to improve our tools, outreach and support of this valuable network of IBA caretakers. The partnership has grown in recent years to include new provincial partners. We hope and anticipate that all our combined efforts will help protect and improve the habitat at IBAs in Canada and the birds that depend on these sites.

Stay tuned for more updates from Port Rowan.