Friends of the Washington County Grasslands IBA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization working to protect endangered Short-eared Owls and other at-risk birds of the Washington County Grasslands Important Bird Area and conserve their habitat. FIBA’s fun and educational events like Winter Raptor Fest and Raptor Rapture create interest in and excitement about at risk birds and support for conserving their habitat. Owl watches and Guided Field trips offer residents and visitors the chance to see and explore this unique area – and perhaps encounter some of our amazing birds for themselves!
Birds At Risk!
The Washington County Grasslands Important Bird Area, or IBA, is critical to the survival of Short-eared Owls in New York State! Friends of the Washington County Grasslands IBA/FIBA is working hard to protect the owls and their habitat, located primarily in Fort Edward, NY. Less than 100* of these amazing owls remain in the state!
This unique area provides important habitat for other imperiled grassland bird species, including threatened Northern Harriers, Upland Sandpipers, Sedge Wrens and Henslow’s Sparrows. Eastern Meadowlarks, American Kestrels, Horned Larks, Vesper Sparrows and Grasshopper Sparrows are at-risk, species of special concern and/or rapidly declining. More than 200 bird species breed or winter in or around the Washington County Grasslands.
Education and Conservation remain top priorities for FIBA as we work to protect our imperiled grassland birds! Fun and educational events like Winter Raptor Fest and Raptor Rapture create interest in and excitement about at risk birds and their habitat and grow support for conserving this critical habitat in Fort Edward. Field trips offer residents and visitors the chance to see the area – and encounter some of these amazing birds for themselves!
Friends organizes and hosts an annual Winter Raptor Fest in Fort Edward and co-hosts another Live Bird of Prey event – Raptor Rapture – at the New York State Museum in Albany. These events offer the public a fun way to learn about the endangered, threatened and at-risk birds of the Washington County Grasslands as well as the opportunity to see many of the our native owls, hawks and falcons up close. Winter Raptor Fest serves as a fundraiser to help support program costs and fund FIBA’s work through the year.
Friends of the IBA field trips with partners like Adirondack Mountain Club and Hudson Mohawk Bird Club offer nature enthusiasts the opportunity to get out in the field and see this unique grasslands habitat and its amazing birds for themselves! Winter sightings include the state endangered Short-eared Owls, Northern Harriers and Horned Larks, as well as dozens of more common birds. Spring and Summer field trips offer sightings of grassland songbirds like Eastern Meadowlarks (At Risk), Bobolinks, Bluebirds, Killdeer, Savannah Sparrows and more.
Community Outreach, Collabrations
Collaborations with Live Bird of Prey educators from Adirondack Wildlife Refuge & Rehab Center, North Country Wild Care, New York State Wildlife Rehab Council, The Wildlife Institute of Eastern NY and VINS have helped Friends of the IBA reach over 20,000 people in direct attendance at our events and programs since August 2010.
Collaborations with New York State DEC, USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and local communities continue to build interest in conserving the IBA’s at risk birds. NRCS Greenwich Office reports, “as a result of Winter RaptorFest, 4 landowners have signed up … 390 acres” (under conservation). One of the landowners will manage their parcel solely for wildlife.
GOALS: We are working with interested landowners, nonprofits and state and federal agencies to conserve or acquire critical lands in the IBA from willing owners. Our planned eco-friendly Nature Center will improve the quality of life for local residents while retaining the rural character of the community. The Center will allow us to expand educational programs, activities, trails and recreational opportunities for local residents and visitors and serve as a focus of bird and nature-related tourism.
We owe a special thanks to New York State Canal Corp., the towns of Fort Edward and Whitehall, Lakes to Locks and Washington County for their support and assistance!
Please support the Friends of the IBA with a secure donation via Paypal or mail us at: Friends of the IBA, P.O. Box 82, Fort Edward, NY 12828. Your donation/ membership supports Friends of the IBA efforts to protect endangered, threatened and at-risk birds of the Washington County Grasslands IBA. With your help we will conserve this critical habitat and establish a Nature Center in the IBA! Thank you!