Wisconsin Important Bird Areas

Conserving the most important places for birds


Current Status of Nominations

The Wisconsin IBA Program has completed a robust first round of identifications, resulting in over 100 nominations submitted and evaluated by the IBA Technical Committee and the identification and recognition of 88 Wisconsin IBAs.  You can learn more about these IBAs on the Sites page.

The program is not actively seeking additional nominations at this time, but will consider any submissions on a case-by-case basis with the goal of addressing gaps in IBA coverage for priority species and significant habitats.

If you wish to submit a nomination, please review the criteria and nomination materials.

General Guidelines

As a general rule, a site will qualify as an IBA if it meets the following conditions:

  • It provides essential habitat for a naturally occurring population of one or more species of birds in the state (it will therefore generally exclude introduced species, feral populations, and areas that are predominantly human in origin, such as landfills).
  • It meets one or more of the criteria described below.

There is no minimum or maximum size for an IBA. Whenever possible, a site should be large enough to encompass most of the needs of the birds for which the site is important. It should be small enough to allow the practical implementation of conservation measures. The site should be distinguishable from the surrounding landscape in habitat, character, or ornithological importance. Boundaries commonly used to delimit IBAs include roads, watercourses and other geographic features, and administrative boundaries. An IBA should exist as a protected or potentially protected area, or be an area that can be managed for conservation. An IBA may occur on public or private land, or a combination.

IBA Criteria

IBA criteria use standardized, science-based categories.  The specific species, habitats, and thresholds in the criteria below have been selected for Wisconsin:

WI-1  Site is important to one or more species listed as endangered or threatened in Wisconsin.

WI-2  Site is important to one or more species identified as high conservation priorities in Wisconsin.

WI-3  Site harbors an assemblage of species associated with a habitat type that is representative, rare, or threatened in Wisconsin.

WI-4  Site where significant numbers of birds concentrate for breeding, migration/staging, or wintering.

WI-5  Site is important for long-term research and/or monitoring projects that contribute substantially to ornithology, bird conservation and/or education.

IBA Criteria (WI1 - WI5)

Nomination Instructions

Land Ownership/Management Guidelines

Nomination Form (PDF)

Please read all criteria, instructions and guidelines before completing the nomination form.

Military Ridge Prairie, photo by J Dadisman

Military Ridge Prairie, photo by J Dadisman

Technical Committee

The Wisconsin IBA Program thanks the following individuals for serving on the IBA Technical Committee:

  • Noel Cutright, Wisconsin Society for Ornithology
  • Eric Epstein, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
  • Randy Hoffman, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
  • Robert Howe, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
  • Sumner Matteson, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
  • Mike Mossman, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
  • Linda Parker, USDA Forest Service
  • Christine Ribic, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Steve Richter, The Nature Conservancy
  • Dave Sample, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources


Bobolink, photo by Ryan Brady

Bobolink, photo by Ryan Brady