IMPORTANT BIRD AREA (IBA)
In 2015, the Ucross Ranch was honored to receive the designation of Important Bird Area (IBA) with the leadership of Dr. Jackie Canterbury, president of the local Bighorn Chapter of National Audubon. An IBA is an area identified using an agreed set of criteria as being important for the conservation of bird populations in the United States. The IBA program is administered by the National Audubon Society.
The Ucross Ranch provides diverse habitats for birds on the western edge of the Powder River Basin including riparian and wetland habitats, several areas of native grasslands, sagebrush scrublands, and upland habitat for the Long-billed Curlew and the Sage Grouse, two bird species of special interest. Other commonly observed bird species include the Bald Eagle, Ferruginous Hawk, Swainson’s Hawk, Sandhill Crane, Mountain Bluebird, Western Meadowlark, Wild Turkey, and Great Blue Heron.
Ucross's long-standing focus on conservation and Apache Foundation's habitat improvements and management of the overall health of the Ucross Ranch helped to secure the IBA designation. Yale University's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies contributed their expertise as well. During Yale's time at Ucross in 2013, Yale students set up acoustic monitoring stations to record the abundance of bird life found on the Ranch.
Ucross artists-in-residence have also helped celebrate the bird life at Ucross. Ernesto Scott photographed portraits of birds on the ranch over the course of three years, culminating in the exhibition The Birds of Ucross. Artist Christina Baal has a life goal to draw or paint all of the 10,000 species of birds on the planet. Ucross supported her work with two residencies and presented an exhibition with community participation, The Universal Language of Birds, in 2017.
In 2019, Jackie Canterbury and Paul A. Johnsgard co-wrote Wyoming's Ucross Ranch: Its Birds, History, and Natural Environment, which profiles sixty of the most abundant, characteristic, and interesting birds found regularly at Ucross and the Powder River Basin.