IBA Overview

What is an IBA?


Chestnut-sided Warbler – Photo by Matt Valencic

An Important Bird Area, determined by the National Audubon Society, is a “site where significant numbers of birds concentrate for breeding, migration, or wintering.” The Chagrin River Corridor IBA is a relatively intact contiguous riparian corridor surrounded by developed residential area, and includes Holden Arboretum, Penitentiary Glen, North and South Chagrin Reservations, Chapin Forest, and the Audubon Sanctuaries in Aurora and Willoughby Hills. The ASGC has begun an initiative to concentrate conservation and monitoring efforts within this IBA.

The Chagrin River Watershed

Understanding the Chagrin River Corridor IBA starts with the website for Chagrin River Watershed Partners (http://www.crwp.org/). They identify the three main drainages that make up the watershed:

  • The Upper Main Branch begins above Bass Lake in Munson Township and flows through The Rookery, West Geauga Commons, Whitesburg Park, Downtown Chagrin Falls and meets the main river at South Chagrin Reservation at Miles Road.
  • The Aurora Branch flows from Aurora to Bentleyville (South Chagrin Reservation at Miles Road).
  • The East Branch starts near Bass Lake and flows mainly north through private land, the Holden Arboretum complex, some Lake Metroparks property then on for several miles to join the main river in Willoughby at Daniels Park.

Seventy one (71) miles of these streams are designated State Scenic River.

ASGC’s IBA Project

Great Blue Heron – Photo by Matt Valencic

Our objective is to improve bird habitat throughout the entire IBA area, thus improving species diversity and numbers. It must be “More than just birds.” The IBA Project will be ongoing and will evolve as the years go on. A project of this magnitude requires lots of planning and organization, and thinking three and four moves ahead.

It includes working with target groups who can have a direct effect on improving bird habitat including the park districts, Holden Arboretum, and other public entities. It also involves private individuals who have more than 10 acres of woodland and a conservationist inclination.

The first step is to review the current data.

Online Data Collection

A review of eBird (www.eBird.org) identifies 49 “Hotspots” within the watershed which have been well birded the last several years by some excellent birders. Current eBird entries and historical accounts identify 280 species. Underbirded areas lacking eBird data are private lands adjacent to the main river and its branches. The big gaps include properties on the east side of the river between North Chagrin Reservation and South Chagrin Reservation in Gates Mills, Hunting Valley and Moreland Hills. There are also private lands adjacent to the Aurora Branch between Aurora and Bentleyville, and on the Upper Main Branch between the parks mentioned above.

Literature Review

This is a review of existing scientific bird monitoring studies that make connections between bird diversity and habitat quality, invasive species, and other variables within the watershed. Will confirm and/or revise eBird data trends for a final system analysis.

How Can You Help?

If you live in the Chagrin Valley watershed and would like to know how you can help, please contact us at info@clevelandaudubon.com.

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