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)
Martin Murphy, a local resident of Ferryville, has compiled a list of the birds that frequent and nest in the area. Martin has extensive expertise in birding and has a master’s degree in natural sciences. He has conducted research in warblers and has worked tirelessly in updating this database for the birds of the Ferryville area. He used personal data as well as that from members of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology, backyard bird counts, and Village of Ferryville residents. Martin has also been monitoring the blue bird success on Eagle Mountain, and has been compiling that information as well.
Ferryville has a village park maintained by the Village of Ferryville, and also a wildlife area managed by the Mississippi Valley Conservancy (MVC). The park is Sugar Creek Park, and the MVC property is the Sugar Creek Bluff State Natural Area. In the summer of 2015, the MVC added 144 acres to this bluff land natural area. The access to the addition has still not been finalized, but the original area is open daily for hiking and birding opportunities. The trail is maintained during the summer, and it is available in the winter for cross country skiing and snow shoeing. One of the species that has been observed on this property during the past three spring migration day hikes has been the Cerulean Warbler. Rush Creek Natural Area is just north of Ferryville and is managed by the Wisconsin DNR. Bird lists have been kept for each birding hike.
E. Describe your community’s ordinance demonstrating that your community does not restrict natural/native landscaping that emphasizes native plants and non-turf lawns.
The community has an ordinance that allows for residents to submit a plan for maintaining natural areas within the boundaries of their property.
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.
The Village of Ferryville is included within the Upper Mississippi National Wildlife Refuge as part of Pool #9. The area also is listed as an Important Birding Area and is part of the Audubon Society’s Great River Birding Trail. The Rush Creek State Natural Area is located a short distance to the north of Ferryville and is included in the Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail guide. This area is a mix of dry prairie and oak forest that is frequented by many songbirds during migration. The Kentucky Warbler is a signature species in the area. Bald Eagles are also frequently found nesting in and around Ferryville. During the 2019 Bald Eagle survey on Pool #9, more bald eagle nests were observed than any other place in the lower 48 states. This included those along the Iowa side of the Mississippi River.
T. Document that your community maintains a birding trail or hot spot location with educational signage and/or literature. (Note: A birding hotspot alone is not sufficient - your community must actively promote birding and public education at the site itself.)
A double-sided bulletin board is redone each spring in Sugar Creek Park in Ferryville. This includes birding information for trails at Sugar Creek Bluff Natural Area, bird lists of birds that are in the area, and important birding information for visitors. A fund-raising effort has been underway for the past three years to purchase new playground equipment for this park. This addition, scheduled for summer 2020, will greatly increase the number of visitors stopping at this park, and they will have access to the extensive birding information on this board.
Community Forest Management
F. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.
As a village, Ferryville does not have a forest management plan. However, parts of Ferryville are covered by other forest management plans. The Eagle Mountain area consists of 600 acres that are covered by written covenants that do not allow commercial logging. An additional 241 acres is part of the Sugar Creek Bluff State Natural Area, and it is also covered and protected by the existing management of the Mississippi Valley Conservancy. 144 more acres were added to this in the summer of 2015.
Limiting or Removing Threats to Birds
A. Describe your community’s educational program to control free-roaming cats and/or the manner in which you actively publicize the Cats Indoors! initiative.
B. Demonstrate that your community provides property owners with information on how to protect birds from window strikes (e.g., online links, brochures).
The Ferryville Tourism Council’s website includes a special birding section that features links to birding sites, ways to improve one’s landscaping to attract birds, how to prevent window strikes, and how to keep house cats from eating songbirds. It also has a link to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife threats to birds page that provides citizens with information about the hazards birds face. A brand new updated website is being professionally developed in the first few months of 2020.
B. Provide web links or a community newsletter demonstrating that your community educates property owners on methods to create and enhance backyard habitat for birds.
The Ferryville Tourism Council website also has links to participating in the Christmas Bird Count and the Great Backyard Bird Count. It also provides information and links to help residents improve their backyards and become involved in yearly citizen science programs such as the Great Backyard Bird Count and the Christmas Bird Count.
D. Describe your community-sponsored annual bird festival. This must be a multi-day event or a truly exceptional one-day event.
The Ferryville Tourism Council sponsors an annual Bald Eagle Day on the first Saturday of March. This annual event is co-sponsored by the Friends of Pool 9. Events for the day include educational live bird programs provided by the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota, bald eagle nest building, bird feeder building stations, crafts, and programs provided by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Decorah Raptor Project. This year Chloris Lowe, a member of the Ho Chunk Nation, gave a presentation on the importance of the bald eagle in Native American culture and heritage. The Village of Ferryville has 180 residents. Bald Eagle Day has around 450 participants each year. Due to some messy weather, the attendance for the 2019 event was only around 240. Over 50 children made bird feeders and crafts. The Raptor Research Project (the Decorah Eagle Cam) did an excellent program on their work including how the female bald eagle brought food to her 3 eaglets by herself after the male went missing and never returned. This year's event will be Saturday, March 7,2020 at the Ferryville Village Hall.
An additional program celebrating our Bird City status is our annual Fall Migration Day. On the first Saturday in November, we sponsor a viewing time at our riverside observation area at River View Park right in downtown Ferryville along Highway 35. This past year was our fourth year. We have invited Dan Jackson, past president of the Coulee Region Audubon group in LaCrosse to be our expert birder. He and 4 others set up their spotting scopes for viewing the migrating waterfowl. Species that have been observed are bald eagles, tundra swans, white pelicans, loons, a wide variety of ducks including thousands of canvas backs, and great blue herons. 37 people from 4 states attended last year. We have birding materials available for handouts including how to locate nearby eagle's nest and directions to Brownsville, MN to see the migrating swans.
International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD)
A. This community's municipal body passed the required International Migratory Bird Day resolution.
The 2019 WMBD event was a Spring Migration Hike on Sugar Creek Bluff Natural Area and was co-sponsored by the Mississippi Valley Conservancy as part of the Linked to the Land series. It was held on Saturday, May 11. 45 people participated and saw a long list of spring warblers, grosbeaks, orioles, sandhill cranes, bald eagles, scarlet tanangers, woodpeckers, and indigo buntings. Six of the participants were children. The 2020 hike is scheduled for May 9 and is also co-sponsored by the Mississippi Valley Conservancy. Birding handouts are available at the registration area for participants including maps of other areas to go birding in the area. A Fall Migration Day event at the observation deck along the Mississippi River is also held annually, and the 2020 date will be Nov. 14 from 9-11 am. An additional hike on Sugar Creek Bluff was organized and led by a guide. This was during the annual celebration of River Bluff Daze on July 27. Fifteen people joined in for this hike. While it wasn't the best birding time due to the heat and heavy rains, it educated the visitors to the natural area so that they can return there in the future.
“One of the requirements for being a Bird City is to have an organized activity celebrating International Spring Migration Day,” Joanne White said. “Having MVC co-sponsor this activity for Ferryville Tourism Council is a huge boost to our tiny village! We are deeply appreciative of their interest and support! We will be renewing our Bird City recognition during January, and are so thankful for the new visitors that are coming to Ferryville for birding because of these hikes.”
Anyone interested in more information about birding activities in the Ferryville area or in donating to the cause can look on Ferryville’s Facebook page, check their website, or contact Joanne White at (608) 734-9018 or call Sherry Quamme at (608) 734-9077.