Important Bird Areas (IBA's) are documented for bird and habitat significance. IBA data builds valuable databases to help scientists track forest changes and understand climate change.
One of the important things about being at the Rocky River Nature Center is, the Rocky River Reservation, as a matter of fact, the entire east branch valley and watershed, is part of an Important Bird Area, or “IBA”, maybe you’ve heard of them.
An IBA is a place that has been studied. They had to be chosen by National Audubon because of the research that had been done. What is really neat, is that Western Cuyahoga Audubon, a few years ago, had done a lot of research in the Rocky River IBA.
In 2012, this report came out, the Rocky River Important Bird Area Survey-the Breeding Birds in the Forest. This was accomplished through a lot of people working very hard.
Taking data, going out every two weeks, ten days, taking data on forest breeding birds and making sure that data is available so that in the future, should there be some changes in the forest or should invasive species need to be taken out, or the park may need to choose what to do about a particular area, there is background data as to why this area is important.
There is a second Important Bird Area in the Cleveland, Ohio region called the, Doan Brook - Dike 14 Important Bird Area, now called the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve IBA. This is also an Important Bird Area and some of our members are involved in taking data.
We have to remember Important Bird Areas are not just for, “Hey, this is a great place to see the birds in the summer!”
These are places birds need in the summer for nesting, in the spring and fall on migratory routes, and even in the winter time too where birds from the north are spending their winters here or just having time to refuel before heading even further south.
So, Important Bird Areas, well, there are a lot of places important for birds. These are specific areas like the Rocky River Important Bird Area and the Doan Brook - Dike 14 Important Bird Area have been researched and we hope that in the future they will remain and be utilized by other researchers, perhaps to make changes to benefit the birds and to benefit people.
The changing climate affects more than just birds, it’s affecting vegetation, it’s affecting amphibians, it’s affecting insects, it’s affecting a lot of things.
In order for us to understand what changes are happening, that’s why research such as the IBA’s are done. We have a database, we have background information, so in the future, be it one year, two years, ten years, we have a much better understanding as to what’s going on.