Contacts: Rochelle Breitenbach, Detroit Audubon Society, 248-698-3549
Ray Adams, Kalamazoo Nature Center, 269-381-1574 x20
Peggy Ridgway, Michigan Audubon Society, 517-886-9144
Lynn Tennefoss, National Audubon Society, 800-542-2748

MICHIGAN IMPORTANT BIRD AREAS PROGRAM INITIATED

Grand Rapids, MI, March 16, 2006 – Today, a partnership of four conservation organizations active in Michigan announced initiation of the Important Bird Areas (IBA) Program in Michigan. Caleb Putnam has been named Michigan Important Bird Areas Coordinator and will be responsible for implementing and coordinating the IBA Program in the state.

“With the hiring of Caleb Putnam, Michigan joins a network of more that 40 states throughout the U.S. engaged in the identification and conservation of Important Bird Areas. This is a critical step towards ensuring that the most important habitats for birds in Michigan are adequately documented and conserved,” said John Cecil, Director, Audubon Important Bird Areas Program.

The Important Bird Areas (IBA) program is an international effort to identify, monitor, and conserve a network of sites that provide essential habitat for bird populations. BirdLife International began the IBA program in Europe in 1985. Since that time, BirdLife partners in more than 100 countries have joined together to build the global IBA network. National Audubon Society is the BirdLife Partner for the U.S. and has been working since 1995 to identify and conserve hundreds of IBAs throughout the United States. The IBA program in the United States sets science-based conservation priorities and engages local action to safeguard the most essential sites for bird populations.

“The initiation of the IBA program in Michigan is an extremely significant event for the future of our birds and their habitats,” said Ray Adams, Director of Research, Kalamazoo Nature Center. “It builds upon work we at the Kalamazoo Nature Center have been doing over the past decade in cooperation with the National Audubon Society and others.”

The Michigan IBA Program is a partnership involving the Detroit Audubon Society, the Kalamazoo Nature Center, the Michigan Audubon Society and the National Audubon Society. The program is an integral part of the partnership’s shared mission to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats, for the benefit of humanity and the Earth’s biological diversity.

“Michigan Audubon is pleased to be partnering with Detroit and National Audubon and Kalamazoo Nature Center in this global conservation program to protect critical habitat for birds and other wildlife. We are confident that Caleb brings notable expertise to this endeavor,” said Peggy Ridgway, President, Michigan Audubon Society.

Caleb Putnam brings a wealth of experience to the Michigan IBA program. A graduate of Alma College in Alma, MI, and the University of Montana, Putnam has had diverse experiences in avian monitoring and volunteer coordination. A dedicated educator, he has also led Kirtland’s Warbler tours in Grayling, MI, for the US Fish and Wildlife Service as well as Michigan Audubon Society specialty birding tours in northern Michigan. Putnam, who will be located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, begins work immediately.

"Preservation of the right kinds of habitat in Michigan is imperative to the survival of many migratory bird species as well as to the species that live in Michigan year-round,” said Rochelle Breitenbach, President, Detroit Audubon Society. “Partnering with Kalamazoo Nature Center, Michigan Audubon Society and National Audubon Society on the IBA program brings us one huge step closer to securing the future of birds and birding in Michigan and beyond.”

Detroit Audubon Society’s mission is to promote awareness and protection of the environment through education, research and advocacy.  We support local activities to foster the preservation of birds and the clean air, water, wetlands, grasslands, woodlands and other natural resources they depend upon.

The Kalamazoo Nature Center’s mission is to inspire people to care for the environment by providing experiences that lead them to understand their connection to the natural world.

Michigan Audubon Society advocates the awareness, enjoyment, and stewardship of the environment and natural resources through education, research, conservation/preservation with an emphasis on birds and their habitats.

National Audubon Society is dedicated to protecting birds and other wildlife and the habitat that supports them. Our national network of community-based nature centers and chapters, scientific and educational programs, and advocacy on behalf of areas sustaining important bird populations, engage millions of people of all ages and backgrounds in conservation.