Making our communities healthy for birds... and people

City of Fond du Lac

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 Fond du Lac has demonstrated that it has continued to comply with the state of Wisconsin’s “Smart Growth” law for land use and planning and resource management. Its “Comprehensive Plan 2010-2030” was adopted on 10/14/09.

C. Provide evidence (e.g., official designation of natural areas, easements, etc.) that existing bird habitat within community limits has legal protection. (Exclusions: Leash laws; prohibitions against disturbing nests and wildlife; areas consisting primarily of mowed grass)

City Ordinance 488-5(N) specifies that interfering with animals and birds is not allowed in City Parks. All vehicle access is limited as well, further protecting the wildlife.

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

The City of Fond du Lac has many bird habitat areas along the various waterways that wind their way through the City. Plans continue to establish an oak savannah on a former disposal site at the Greenway Arboretum, which consists of 24 acres of natural habitat along the East Branch of the Fond du Lac River. A grant was received from the Fond du Lac Area Foundation to help fund planting prairie grasses in the area. Work continues by passionate volunteers to remove buckthorn and improve trail access throughout the property. The plants of the area are of the prairie variety and provide food for the birds and other animals throughout the summer months.

MCDERMOTT PARK is bordered on the west by McDermott Creek. Deciduous trees that surround the homes of the abutting streets provide a corridor for passerines to migrate north as they follow the contour of Lake Winnebago. Evergreens planted near the bank of the creek provide habitat for many birds, which were observed in private yards along the creek. A group of neighborhood advocates plan to promote walking trails through the park.

LAKESIDE PARK provides a large expanse of shoreline on the southern end of Lake Winnebago. In the winter months the wastewater treatment outfall provides excellent birding and is a favorite of local birders. Bald Eagles sit on the ice and in the trees surrounding the lake shore. In 2016. . .

  • Trees were donated and planted by Waste Management to fill a gap in trees that border the lake. As these trees and bushes grow, they will provide a safe place for birds to rest as they travel between mature trees on either side.
  • Park Watch and other local citizens were involved this year in asking the City Council to not construct a large new structure in the park, one that would require the removal of several mature trees. An alternate site was selected which will have much less of an impact on our feathered friends.
  • The Lakeside Park Exploratory Committee’s recommendations that focus on natural beauty and wildlife have been completed (pedestrian trails throughout the park) or included in a newly-commissioned master plan (marsh walk viewing platforms and boardwalk, a bridge to connect the developed area of the park to a neighboring marsh, additional piers to allow better viewing of waterfowl, and a nature exhibit area in a planned facility).

BROOKSIDE PARK—with DeNevue Creek as its focal point—is another corridor for spring passerines moving north through the Fond du Lac area. This park is bordered by the creek and the backyards of bird watchers who feed the birds year-round. Warblers are commonly sighted on their way north.

The West Branch of the Fond du Lac River does not currently pass park land, but is bordered for a mile on the City’s west side—along both banks—by city land saved as open space and flood plain mitigation. This area is known by local birders looking for migrating passerines, particularly where Hickory Street crosses the river. Hundreds of Mallard Ducks have been found wintering in the small tributaries that feed this stretch of the river. In the summer Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons stand along its banks hunting for crayfish, frogs and minnows in the shallow waters. Belted Kingfishers patrol the area and find nesting areas in the protected habitat.

A new city park was completed in 2016, largely remaining open and undeveloped, with only limestone trails improving access to it. As noted last year, this plan was selected based on feedback from neighbors who wanted to see the wildlife habitat remain.

Two other new parks are planned for 2018 and 2020, both of which are also planned to remain largely natural, accessed by new walking trails. One of these parks was even named “Cardinal Park” based on a recommendation by a group of local 5th graders, to honor both the bird and the mascot of the Fond du Lac High School.

Fond du Lac County is also investing in bird habitat in its parks. Located just northeast of the city and immediately adjacent to Lake Winnebago, Roosevelt Park will soon boast additional trees and shrubs that are intended to attract birds, in an effort to make the entire lakefront friendlier to birds.

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.

Local advocates have been clearing buckthorn and other invasive species from area parks and trails, including the Greenway, Lallier Park, Peebles Trail, and Ledgeview Pond.

V. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.

A speaker at a local Noon Rotary meeting educated the group on the many benefits and attractions of the nearby Horicon Marsh. It is hoped that the Fond du Lac community can continue to learn lessons of ecology and water quality from our neighbor to the south.

A local bird advocate has also taken an innovative step in promoting the Greenway Arboretum, and the trails and habitat it provides. Her insurance company invested in “cartvertising” in the grocery store next door. These small placards on the grocery carts will educate shoppers of the existence—and attractions—of the Greenway for all of 2017! 

Community Forest Management

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

The City of Fond du Lac continues to be recognized as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation following its initial award in 1988.

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.

The City has an ordinance (216-16, 216-17, and 216-18) prohibiting dogs and cats running at large, and requiring their owners to restrain them. Their local chapter of the Audubon Society has been distributing a pamphlet entitled “Cats, Birds and You” at their public meetings and multiple community events where they set up their booth. The Humane Society distributes a locally-produced brochure to all cat owners (based on information from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) that encourages them to keep their cats indoors.

Public Education

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.

Fond du Lac Audubon offers a newsletter five times a year, the most recent of which features information on backyard bird counts (see below). An earlier newsletter notes window clings that were displayed and sold at a summer festival to which prevents birds from hitting windows.

E. Illustrate a program that involves schools, garden clubs, or other organizations in bird conservation activities.

The local Audubon Society hosted a “Backyard Breeding Birds” program on January 21, 2016, at the Fond du Lac Senior Center. This talk highlighted the many wonderful birds that nest right in our own backyards. As a participant in the five-year project for the new Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas, Amy Sheldon has learned a lot about why birds love Wisconsin. Participants saw photos of birds from courtship to fledgling, and learn the secrets of their success. They also learned tips in spotting these birds and ways we can all improve the birds’ environment so their future is ensured.

Upcoming Audubon Society events include the following:

  • The Messenger (February 15, UW-FdL): With exclusive footage and high-tech cinematography, the film explains the plight of our birds. Stunning flight sequences are conveyed in slow motion, making the complexities of wing movement, control, and rhythm visible to the human eye. Anyone who loves birds will enjoy the artistry of the images, while being sobered by the multiple threats to our feathered friends enumerated in the documentary.
  • Backyard Bird Count (February 17-20, individual backyards): Participants track bird populations across the entire country; the birds in our area will also be included in the count and data. Anyone, from beginner to expert and with access to the internet, can help with the tally. The minimum requirement for counting is 15 minutes on one day, and can be done from the inside of one’s house. Those who want to contribute more can count for as long as they like on each day of the event.
  • Wisconsin’s Proud Bird Conservation (March 8, MPTC): Michael John Jaeger, President of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology will have a presentation on the legacy of our state’s long tradition of bird conservation, our great progress on natural resource protection, and future implications.

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.

The 2016 IMBD celebration was held the week of May 1st, with author and professor Alan Haney speaking at the Fond du Lac Public Library on May 3rd about common Wisconsin birds and his book, “Jewels of Nature.”  Birding walks were held on May 6th and 7th at the Camelot Business Park Pond, Greenway Arboretum, and Lakeside Park.

We are excited about two new emphases for our IMBD celebration in 2017—a bike tour and an art partnership. In addition to the three birding hikes that are scheduled for May 5th & 6th in three of our most popular birding sites, John McDowell, founder of the Friends of the Fond du Lac Loop, will lead bicyclists on sections of the local bike loop which feature birding opportunities. This will take place the morning of May 6th, and will visit—among other destinations—the Camelot Business Park, Greenway Arboretum, Gottfried Prairie, and Lakeside Park.

Two local artists have expressed strong interest in featuring bird-related art in their downtown galleries during the first week of May. We hope for displays such as Owen Gromme paintings (a local wildlife artist), prints, duck decoys, historic displays, etc. The Downtown Fond du Lac Partnership—whose members include both of these galleries—are also drumming up interest among its other members, which are encouraged to hang Bird City Wisconsin posters in their windows and to offer promotions for birding-related merchandise, such as bird feeders, educational items, etc. We are very excited to see where this—and other future partnerships—may lead!

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Community Details

Joined Bird City: 2012

Population: 43,021

Incorporated: 1852

Area: 20.11 mi2

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