City of Darlington

City of Darlington

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 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, July 18, 2022.

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.  The Sonsalla's continue to work to restore this area.

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 city continues, in 2021, to maintain the trail.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:

  1. 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.
  1. 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.

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).

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. Due to the death of Carol McDaniel, Bluebird Society president,  there was no formal bluebird trail report submitted, but former trail monitors were encouraged to send their report individually to Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin.

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. Click on community. Click on links: Click on the bird city photo.    

H. Document a substantial regular program that educates young people on any of the following topics: climate change, energy efficiency, green/bird-safe buildings, or environmental sustainability.

As of the '21-22 school year, The Darlington Elementary-Middle School Science Department teaches the Elevate Science Series by Pearson which teaches "Energy Flow in Ecosystems," Conservation of Matter and Energy," as well Darwin's theories of how bird species can change over time, "Human Influence on Extinction," and how dinosaurs may be connected to modern day birds. At the elementary level, students learn about ways that birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians  have adapted over time.

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, and  Scarlet Tanager.  As of July 2021, four bird statues have been installed. A fifth, the Cedar Waxwing is under construction. Each statue has a plaque explaining key elements.

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:  The Bluebird  Nest Nature Center closed its doors in November of 2019. All of its bird materials were donated to the Darlington Emementary-Middle School Science Department and The Johnson Public Library in Darlington. While open, the center served 3000 visitors and presented over 80 programs, many of which were about birds.


World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD)

A. This community's municipal body passed the required World 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 World Migratory Bird Day website. To see what other Bird City communities have done in the past, please view some other profiles on our website.

The City of Darlington will celebrate Migratory Bird Day on October 20, 2022, within the limits of Covid. A display will be set up at the Johnson Public Library in which visitors will see pictures of birds that migrate through this area, materials available at the library, charts, and other pertinent materials. 

In addition, in 2022, a special interactive display about bluebird nest boxes dedicated to former state and local officer and Bluebird expert, Carol McDaniel, will be dedicated and displayed.





Joined Bird City: 2014

Population: 2,451

Incorporated: 1877

Area: 1.34 mi2

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