Making our communities healthy for birds... and people

City of Fort Atkinson

City of Fort Atkinson

Habitat Creation, Protection, and Monitoring

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)

Local birding hotspots Dorothy Carnes County Park & Rose Lake State Natural Area and Bark River Nature Park are monitored regularly with results being submitted to eBird. Additionally, many birders have been actively involved in Wisconsin’s Breeding Bird Atlas II, all results are submitted via the eBird BBS portal. A local resident birder has erected and monitored numerous Prothonotary Warbler boxes in and near the City of Fort Atkinson.

There are several active Purple Martin colonies in an around Fort Atkinson. Local resident and Purple Martin extraordinaire Gary Wolfram has built numerous Purple Martin houses for various individuals. By far the largest colony is located just east of Fort Atkinson, near the Rock and Bark River confluence with 250+ pairs using a very well maintained and appropriate group of houses. Between this group and the other active colonies hundreds of Purple Martins have fledged in recent years.

The Bird City Fort Atkinson group organized it's first Swift Night Out event that was attended by around 17 people. Several local chimneys were surveyed and over 322 swifts were seen at roost throughout the city. In an effort to bring awareness to Chimney Swifts, Dick Wanie (local birder enthusiast and writer) wrote an artical for the local newspaper. 

On Decemer 14th, 2019, a group of birders participated in the annual Christmas Bird Count in and around the city. 24 birders counted an amazing 4236 birds of 51 species. 


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)

The following parks support bird and wildlife habitat and are wonderful places to enjoy the serenity of the area: Rock River Park, Bark River Nature Park, Memorial Park, Glacial River Bike Trail and the Riverwalk Park. A full list of City of Fort Atkinson parks with legal protection can be found online.

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

The City of Fort Atkinson is continually adding trees along bike and walking trails, therefore providing more habitats for birds. The Garden Club and Heart of the City groups provide programs on instructions to improve bird habitats in our community.

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.

The following information on the control and removal of invasive species can be found on the City of Fort Atkinson website.

Control and removal of invasive vegetation

Backyard Wildlife Habitat Program: Whether you have an apartment balcony or a 20-acre farm, you can create a garden that attracts beautiful wildlife and helps restore habitat in commercial and residential areas.

Wild About Gardening: This website is all about gardening for wildlife. You’ll learn how to plan your garden to meet both your needs and that of the wildlife you wish to attract.

WDNR’s invasive species site: Comprehensive site with information about invasive species laws and policies, types of invasives, reporting invasives, etc.

Community Forest Management

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

Fort Atkinson continues to be recognized as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation following its initial award in 1992.

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).

Information on how to prevent window collisions can be found on the City of Fort Atkinson website Bird City page.

Preventing Window Collisions

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.

The City of Fort Atkinson has the following information on creating and enhance backyard bird habitat on its website.

Creating backyard bird habitat

Wild Ones: is a great resource on how to birdscape your backyard with native species.

Beyond the Birdfeeder: Creating a Bird-friendly Yard with Native Wisconsin Plants: learn about the best native trees, shrubs, vines, wildlflowers, and grasses for birds.

Natural Resources Conservation Services: Information on Backyard Conservation and Wildlife Habitat techniques.

Cornell’s Urban Gardening for Birds: Aimed at city dwellers, this site has resources for providing food, shelter, water, and nest sites for birds in urban settings.

How to Manage Your Land to Help Birds: A manual from the Zoological Society of Milwaukee on habitats and food resources important to birds, and how you can help.

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).

Fort Atkinson has participated in the Christmas Bird Count yearly since 1974. Retired science teacher and columnist Dick Wanie organized the count up until about the late 1990s when The Friends of Rose Lake took over the responsibilities. The average of the number of participants afield has about 20 with an additional 15 feeder watchers. To get more participants involved known feeder watchers were contacted and asked to submit their sightings via phone just prior to compilation. Over the years, the species range has been 29 on the low end and 48 on the high. Unexpected birds reported were a Palm Warbler in 2003 and a beautiful pair of Harlequin Ducks found on the Rock River in 2012. With the exception of a few years Mr. Wanie has been keeping records and reporting CBC results in his regular The Daily Jefferson County Union column “Outdoors Calling” (which is heavy into birding) since mid 1970’s.

Fort Atkinson hosts some fantastic colonies of Chimney swifts, especially during fall migration. A local resident birder participated in the Swift Night Out surveys, where he has counted as many as 600 swifts entering the huge chimney at the middle school.  Once again the City of Fort Atkinson participated in the Swift Night Out event and had around 17 volunteer surveyors counting at 5 locations throughout the city. All and all they counted 322 swifts. An article summarizing the event why it was important was written for the local newspaper. 

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.

Fort Atkinson Bird City held a Big Sit at the Dorothy Carnes County Park & Rose Lake State Natural Area observation platform on a Saturday in May. Again, an article was put into the local newspaper to bring awareness to World Migration Day.

This year's WMBD event will be held on Saturday, May 4 at Dorothy Carnes County Park. We will once again be doing a Big Sit to educate park visitors and keep a running list of birds. There will likely be bird tours throughout the park and there is even talk of getting a local falconer to come do a demonstration.  

Joined Bird City: 2016

Population: 12,368

Incorporated: 1878

Area: 5.82 mi2

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