Important Bird Area

The Holden Arboretum was dedicated as an IBA on June 18, 2004.


What is an Important Bird Area?

An Important Bird Area (IBA) is an international designation and recognition by Audubon Ohio, as partners with Bird Life International and the North American Bird Conservation Initiative, which identifies those places that are critical to birds during some part of their life cycle, i.e.: during breeding, wintering, feeding or migrating. The IBA program was first started by Bird Life International in Europe and Africa in the mid-1980s. Audubon launched state-based IBA programs in the United States in 1995. Audubon Ohio started identification of IBA in Ohio in 2000. Holden is one of more than 100 IBA focus areas in Ohio and is part of the Chagrin River Corridor IBA, one of over 50 regional IBA sites in Ohio.


The criteria for being an IBA:

  • Places where rare species of birds are found.
  • Places with rare natural habitats with birds that are only found in these special habitats.
  • Places where large numbers are found.
  • Places that have been important for a long time for the study of birds.

Birds at The Holden Arboretum

Holden has long been known as an area where there are many birds. To put the birds at Holden into perspective; 412 bird species make up the state of Ohio’s total bird list and 218 have been identified at The Holden Arboretum. More than 150 bird species have been identified as breeding in the greater Cleveland region and 93 of these species are confirmed breeders at The Holden Arboretum. In other words, during spring migrations, a birder with sharp eyes and ears has the opportunity to see more than one-half of the bird species which occur in Ohio and during the summer breeding season, more than one-half the birds which nest in the greater Cleveland area. Holden is a great place for birds.


In terms of rare bird species, of the 93 confirmed breeding bird species, four are state-endangered species and 13 additional species listed as “special interest” or “high priority” by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service because of significant population declines.


SPECIES U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Region 3
Great Lakes Basin
Ohio Department of Natural Resources
NAS/PIFAllegheny Plateau
Sharp-shinned Hawk Special Interest
American Woodcock List, High Priority*
Yellow-billed Cuckoo List
Northern Flicker List
Winter Wren Endangered
Veery List
Wood Thrush List, High Priority High Priority
Chestnut-sided Warbler List
Magnolia Warbler Endangered
Black-throated Blue Warbler High Priority
Cerulean Warbler List, High Priority Special Interest High Priority
Louisiana Water thrush High Priority
Canada Warbler Endangered High Priority
Field Sparrow List
Dark-eyed Junco Endangered
Bobolink List, High Priority
Eastern Meadowlark List, High Priority


In terms of being a places with rare natural habitats with birds that are only found in these special habitats, Holden is very fortunate to have the old growth forests such as Bole and Corning woods; the specialized microclimates such as the hemlock-northern hardwoods forest remnants in Pierson Creek, Stebbins Gulch and Little Mountain. Examples of rare bird species that have specific habitat types such as old growth forests or hemlock ravines include: winter wren, magnolia warbler, cerulean warbler, Canada warbler and dark-eyed junco. Examples of rare bird species that require large blocks of contiguous habitat forests such as the unbroken block of 800 acres in Stebbins Gulch or the meadows of Strong Acres include wood thrush (forest) and eastern meadowlark and bobolink (meadow).