Making our communities healthy for birds... and people

City of Sheboygan

Community Achievements

Habitat Creation, Protection, and Monitoring

A. Comply with Wisconsin's "Smart Growth" law for land use planning and resource management. This criterion is an option only for applications submitted before July 1, 2017.

The City of Sheboygan’s Comprehensive Plan was adopted on December 5, 2011, and includes points on meeting Wisconsin’s “Smart Growth” law. The City has been in compliance with the plan since this date.

B. Describe organized bird monitoring or data obtained from researchers or volunteers in the local park system. (Exclusions: Programs that receive credit under 4C: Christmas Bird Count, Great Backyard Bird Count, Swift Night Out)

The City of Sheboygan has about 40 parks with habitats that include: lakeshore, riparian, deciduous forest, coniferous forest, swamp, marsh, prairie, mowed lawn, and meadow. The Division of Parks and Forestry works closely with the Sheboygan County Audubon Society, and the Ellwood H. May Environmental Park – Maywood to provide quality bird habitat and monitor bird activity each year. This is evidenced by the activities at Maywood, a 135-acre City of Sheboygan Park. Each year Maywood and Audubon provide birding programs for the public to learn bird identification and help track the migratory and resident bird species through weekly walks in spring and fall. This information has been collected over the past two decades and recently put on eBird, the internet recording site run by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

Maywood also has a bluebird trail consisting of 16 nest boxes. These boxes are monitored weekly during the nesting season and results are submitted to the Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin. One of the nest boxes has a live camera feed so visitors to the Maywood website can watch the nesting as it occurs.

Through a joint effort between Maywood and Camp Y-Koda citizen-based monitoring will continue again this year to monitor birds at several public sites along the Sheboygan River. This effort is part of a larger effort to restore and monitor restoration efforts on the lower 14 miles of the Sheboygan River since it was dredged in 2012.

In 2011 and 2012, Maywood was the host site for a bird and bat migration monitoring research project, sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the University of Minnesota. Maywood staff would exchange data collection cards and batteries in the acoustic monitoring device, and mail the data cards each week to the University of Minnesota to download the data into their survey.

In 2012, the City of Sheboygan was the site of a large scale habitat improvement project, which linked with the clean-up and dredging of the Sheboygan River. This multi-million dollar project included vegetation planting and installation of nest boxes that would encourage the return of a variety of bird species to sites along the Sheboygan River. The nest boxes were designed to attract bluebirds, tree swallows, house wrens, owls, and wood ducks. In addition a nesting platform for ospreys was also installed.

The City of Sheboygan, in partnership with Maywood, WDNR, USFWS, USEPA, Ozaukee/Washington County Land Trust, and Stantec Consulting successfully obtained a grant in 2017 to begin implementation of restoration work to create the Pigeon River Estuary.  This river corridor from Maywood to the mouth of the Pigeon River will improve wildlife habitat by removing phragmites and other invasive species, and planting native trees and shrubs over the next three years.

To continue the process of improving wildlife habitat at Maywood, a new Generational Forest will be planted on Arbor Day 2018 and enhancing other habitats with 220 trees.

D. Document that current municipal planning seeks to provide additional bird habitat.

In 2016, a collaborative effort between the City of Sheboygan, National Fish & Wildlife Service, WI DNR, Stantec Environmental Consulting Firm, Miller Engineers and Scientists, and Maywood Environmental Park was initiated to begin work on a Pigeon River Estuary. The estuary would encompass several miles from the shore of Lake Michigan upstream to Maywood and possibly beyond. The project is to remove invasive species, improve habitat for birds and other forms of wildlife, and provide public access.  In 2017, the project received its first of three treatments for phragmites removal.

Sheboygan’s lakefront, particularly North Point Park, has been an outstanding location for birds with an affinity for water. Recognizing this fact, the City of Sheboygan has provided strategic locations for viewing. In 2012, with the help of the DNR and grant money, the first steps were taken to preserve this lakefront habitat by implementing an invasive species program to control phragmites. This three-year program will greatly improve this habitat, especially for shorebirds.

In 2012 numerous partnerships between private contractors, and public agencies undertook an immense project to restore the Sheboygan River habitat. Contaminant removal, shoreline restoration, natural landscaping, and nest box installation were just some of the aspects of this multi-million dollar project. Bird and other wildlife inventories were performed before the project, establishing a baseline to assess the success of the restoration. Nest boxes for owls, bluebirds, tree swallows, and osprey nesting platforms were installed along City-owned parcels of land and installations continued in 2013.

The National Fish and Wildlife Service, in conjunction with the University of Minnesota, undertook a project to monitor bird and bat migration along the great lakes. The City of Sheboygan, through Maywood and the Water Utility Department, set up ultrasonic recording devices, which recorded the sounds of birds and bats migrating on a 24 hour schedule over a 2-month period in spring and again in fall of 2010 and 2011. City personnel were responsible for recharging batteries and changing and mailing data cards every two weeks.

To improve the habitat at Maywood for birds and other species of wildlife, volunteers have been recruited to assist in several habitat improvement projects, including planting 340 trees and shrubs, representing seven different species, removing invasive species, cutting back brush that interferes with nest box usage.

In 2015, the City of Sheboygan, Glacial Lakes Conservancy, Maywood, and numerous state and federal agencies have been working together to protect and preserve a 132.6 acre parcel of land within the City of Sheboygan. The site, now called the Willow Creek Preserve, was a farm owned by the Schuchardt family. Throughout 2015 & 2016, Schuchardt Valley, as it is referenced in E-Bird, was one of several sites in Sheboygan that was regularly monitored through a Citizen-Based Monitoring program as part of the Sheboygan River clean-up and restoration effort. Plans are underway to make habitat improvements to the site to increase natural diversity of both flora and fauna. At this time, a DNR grant is being sought to continue the Citizen-Based Monitoring program in 2017.

F. Show that your community offers the public information on how they can control and remove invasive species in order to improve or maintain bird habitat.

In 2017, the City of Sheboygan, Camp Y-Koda, and Maywood conducted numerous invasive species removal dates at parks and on public lands.  These efforts focussed on the removal of honeysuckle, buckthorn, garlic mustard, and eurasian milfoil.  These efforts involved the assistance of students, Scouts, service clubs, and citizen volunteers.

G. Document that there is a segment of the Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail or a designated Important Bird Area within or adjacent to your community.

Three locations in Sheboygan are cited in the Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail guide. They are Evergreen Park, Ellwood H. May Environmental Park, and North Point Park. Numerous City of Sheboygan birding sites are mentioned in “Wisconsin’s Favorite Bird Haunts” as well.

V. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.

The Ellwood H. May Environmental Park (Maywood) is owned and operated by the City of Sheboygan Division of Parks and Forestry. The Maywood Ecology Center is home to monthly meetings and programs of the local chapter of the Sheboygan County Audubon Society. Their meetings and programs are open to the public, are promoted through the Maywood newsletter, Audubon newsletter, and the local newspapers. Maywood also sends out notices and reminders to its 500+ members.

Maywood hosts weekly bird hikes in May, bird banding demonstrations, fall bird hikes, and winter birding for beginners sessions all through a well-established partnership with the Sheboygan County Audubon Society.

Maywood has established a bluebird trail through the Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin (BRAW). 16 nest boxes are monitored throughout the nesting season with results mailed to BRAW. One of the nest boxes has a video camera mounted inside, so visitors to the Maywood website may enjoy live streaming video of the nesting process. Ten additional bluebird nest boxes were constructed through an Eagle Scout project to expand the bluebird trail in another area of Maywood.

Maywood has also installed numerous kestrel nest boxes. Habitat improvements such as prairie restoration, wetland restoration, pond construction, tree planting, and much more have resulted in a steady increase in the number of bird species utilizing the 135 acres of Maywood since its development in 1984.

Camp Y-Koda and Maywood have teamed to continue and expand its citizen-based monitoring efforts that track the recovery of the Sheboygan River after its 2012 cleanup.  These monitoring efforts include regular bird outings (i.e. Warbler Wednesdays) on foot and via canoe.  Bird data is submitted after each outing to E-bird.  Nest boxes along the Sheboygan River are also monitored for bluebirds, and tree swallows.  Other citizen-based monitoring efforts to be conducted in 2018 as part of a WDNR grant include: bats, mussels, frogs/toads, and invasive encroachment.

Community Forest Management

A. Demonstrate that your community has been awarded Tree City USA status by the National Arbor Day Foundation.

The City of Sheboygan continues to be recognized as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation following its initial award in 1979 (also 1976-1977). The City of Sheboygan is joining forces with National Rotary to plant a tree for every Rotarian and to implement a plan to replace the City's 5,200 ash trees with other suitable species.  The City began treating and removing ash trees in 2017, but has recognized that a community effort is needed.  Therefore, the local Rotary chapter is partnering with any other interested groups to assist with this massive undertaking.

Limiting or Removing Threats to Birds

B. Demonstrate that your community provides property owners with information on how to protect birds from window strikes (e.g., online links, brochures).

Through the City of Sheboygan’s Ellwood H. May Environmental Park - Maywood, educational resources are available through a variety of programs. As an example, each winter Maywood hosts “Birding for Beginners” which teaches the basics of bird identification, attracting birds to feeders, and providing a quality habitat, which includes how to minimize the hazards. Seasonal events such as Flapjack Day (March), Earth Day (April), and the summer camp programs at Maywood have regularly featured craft events where participants make various devices to prevent window strikes. The Ecology Center has experimented with various window strike deterrent devices including bird of prey silhouettes, CD reflectors, translucent window clings.

Public Education

C. Demonstrate that your community is represented in at least one citizen science bird monitoring program (e.g., the Christmas Bird Count, Great Backyard Bird Count, Swift Night Out).

In 2017, Sheboygan saw good activity in Citizen Science.  As mentioned earlier, efforts along the Sheboygan River exemplify many approaches to citizen science monitoring.  In addition, Sheboygan County Audubon Society led its annual Christmas Bird Count.  Members of the International Crane Foundation led a crane county in Sheboygan County.  Maywood volunteers continued to monitor the 16 bluebird nest boxes at Maywood with results submitted to BRAW.  Bluebird monitoring is also be conducted annually at Kohler Andrae State Park.

International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD)

A. This community's municipal body passed the required International Migratory Bird Day resolution.

B. Document and describe your event that incorporates the annual IMBD theme in some fashion. If the event has not yet occurred, please share your detailed plans. For information on the current year’s theme and event materials, please visit the International Migratory Bird Day website. To see what other Bird City communities have done in the past, please view some other profiles on our website.

International Migratory Bird Day 2018 will be celebrated in early October 2018 with a Big Sit at Kohler Andrae State Park.  The Lake Michigan location is ideal for observing birds during fall migration.  The festivities will be sponsored by the Sheboygan County Audubon Society and are incomplete at the time of this application.

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Community Details

Joined Bird City: 2013

Population: 49,288

Incorporated: 1853

Area: 14.11 mi2

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