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 Darlington developed and approved the “City of Darlington Comprehensive Plan” in January, 2005. This plan is in compliance with elements set forth in Wisconsin’s “Smart Growth” law concerning land use planning and resource management. Darlington remains in compliance with this plan to this day.
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 Darlington has an active monitor and participant in the Lafayette County Bluebird Society, Inc., Velma Klenke, who has monitored nest boxes for years in the city limits. In 2018 she reported 78 bluebirds fledged and 7 chickadees fledged from 23 boxes located along three bluebird trails. One trail is located in the city park.
L. Show that your community has restored at least two acres of woodlands, wetlands, or prairie.
John and Phyllis Sonsalla are residents of the Darlington area. A couple of years ago, they started to restore a portion of their property to prairie. It was previously a pasture. Their property is located on the outskirts of Darlington.
V. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.
Darlington has established a walking trail located in one of the parks that follows along the Pecatonica river in the downtown area. The trail is lit and paved. The trail is used by visitors and local people. Nest boxes for cavity nesting birds are placed along the trail where bluebirds, wrens, and tree swallows fledge from the boxes. An educational kiosk, provided by a C. D. Besadny Conservation Grant in cooperation with the North American Bluebird Society and the Lafayette County Bluebird Society, was constructed by the Darlington High School shop class and is focused on bluebirds. The Darlington Garden Club also maintains plots located along the trail. Many of the plots contain native prairie plants. The trail has a campground with water and electricity and is used by families, outdoorsmen and nature enthusiasts. The walking trail is a perfect example of what a community can do to encourage and promote native birds and native plants.
Community Forest Management
F. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.
The City of Darlington employs a Parks and Recreation director who oversees the several parks in the community. He is trained to identify diseased trees and removes them. He works with the UW Extension Lafayette County Forester whenever he has questions. A variety of trees have been planted in the city parks, including Tamarac trees. Much thought is put into replacing and maintaining the trees. In recent years, the city has followed the tree placement guidelines of the Arbor Day Foundation.
Limiting or Removing Threats to Birds
L. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.
The local police department in Darlington has worked with the community to control the feral cat population in the City with good results. All cats (not just feral cats) are prohibited from running at large pursuant to Municipal Code 13.03(6). Typically speaking, they have had very good compliance with this ordinance as it pertains to domesticated cats. Feral cats have posed problems but the population has decreased considerably for a few reasons:
Through an informal, cooperative trapping/relocating program they participated in with some residents they have all but wiped out the feral cat population in some neighborhoods.
They conducted property inspections and required property owners to tear down or improve properties where feral cats (and skunks) found suitable habitat. This included dilapidated sheds, openings under buildings or porches, and the like.
Residents who fed feral cats were instructed to do one of two things: stop feeding them or adopt them and comply with the running at large ordinance mentioned above. When told this, residents always choose to stop feeding them, which has helped to lower the attraction to certain neighborhoods.
Each year in September, members of the Lafayette County Bluebird Society submit their bluebird trail nest box results to the Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin, Inc. This data is part of the yearly nest box report included in BRAW’s Wisconsin Bluebird newsletter that is mailed to its membership.
E. Illustrate a program that involves schools, garden clubs, or other organizations in bird conservation activities.
The Lafayette County Bluebird Society, established in 1981, was originally the Darlington Bluebird Society. It is headquartered in the Darlington area and in 2014 opened the Bluebird Nest Nature Center in downtown Darlington. The Center‘s mission is to:
Provide to the public a facility that serves the purpose of offering educational materials, classes, speakers, and interpretive displays relating to: the Eastern Bluebird and other native cavity nesting birds, threatened and endangered species, the driftless area, and the general fauna and flora in Southwestern Wisconsin and stimulate the Center’s visitors’ interest and interaction in these areas of the natural world.
Over the years, the Lafayette County Bluebird Society has had a significant impact in educating school children and adults on the importance of wildlife conservation by: presenting educational programs throughout the year with noted speakers, providing bird related literature to libraries and schools, conducting bird trail hikes, and gathering nest box trail data that is emailed to nearly 100 birders. The Society’s website provides information on Bluebird trail management, current migration reports from members, nest box design, and bird related information.
Additionally, Sue Cashman, manager of the Bluebird Nest Nature Center, has taught bird and wildlife classes to the children enrolled in the Summer School Enrichment Program in Darlington over the past few years. Sue is a retired elementary school teacher from Darlington.
G. Provide a link to your community’s Bird City Wisconsin webpage, which must be visible from the main page of your municipal website (it may be located at the first level of a drop down menu on the main page but cannot be any less visible) OR demonstrate that your Bird City effort has a significant social media presence.
K. Demonstrate that your community actively raises awareness of its bird assets. Examples include placing a remote web camera on a nest platform, offering bird watching field trips, or creating a significant educational resource on your community's bird life.
The City of Darlington has worked with the Darlington Chamber and Main Street Program to implement a Bird Statue project. The five-foot tall statues are located in the city parks and along Darlington's Main Street. The artist made fibre glass statues are intended to help educate the viewer on various birds such as the Bald Eagle, Great Blue Heron, Eastern Bluebird, etc.
N. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.
The Lafayette County Bluebird Society opened a nature center on April 12, 2014 in downtown Darlington (308 Main Street). The opening was in conjunction with the Society’s annual spring meeting. Known as the Bluebird Nest Nature Center, in 2015, 19 programs were presented with 7 programs specific to birds. Two events focused on avian migration and included talks by Master Birder, Steve Betchkal. Several of the programs were tied to a follow-up program at Yellowstone Lake State Park, 15 minutes drive from the Bluebird Nest. Funding for the programs was partly provided by the Darlington Community Fund through the Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin. Program participants came from distant communities, including Mount Horeb and Galena, IL. The Center is supported by the Lafayette County Bluebird Society, funded by donations, and run by volunteers with a manager to oversee activities. The 2019 programs are posted on the Society's web site: http://bluebirdhouse.org
International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD)
A. This community's municipal body passed the required International Migratory Bird Day resolution.
The City of Darlington celebrated IMBD on April 14, 2018 in conjunction with the Lafayette County Bluebird Society at the Bluebird Nest Nature Center at 308 Main Street featuring a display about migratory birds and a question and answer session in the center about bluebirding in Lafayette County.