City of Fort Atkinson

City of Fort Atkinson

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 Fort Atkinson 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. The “City of Fort Atkinson Comprehensive Plan” was adopted on 9/16/2008 and is intended to be the decision making guide for future community growth, change, and preservation over the next 20 or so years.  As evidence of this, the city has initiated the Green Recognition Program which identifies businesses, community organization and individual citizens who are doing things to lessen harmful environmental impacts. The award recognizes that a healthy economy and healthy environment are mutually supportive.

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.  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.


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 here.

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.

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 Fort Atkinson area has one Important Bird Area: Greater Lake Koshkonong

The Fort Atkinson Area has two Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail sites:

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

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 provides a link to ABC's Cat's and Other Invasives on it's Bird City webpage.

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. Read about it here - 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 it's Bird City webpage:

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 birders participated in the 45th Fort Atkinson area Christmas Bird Count (CBC) on December 17, 2022. The National Audubon Society sponsors the CBC with the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology being the agency administering direction in the state. The count must be held between December 14th and January 5th.  38 community birders counted 45 species within the 15 mile diameter count circle. This included several birders who monitored bird feeder activity. Groups are assigned certain segments as not to duplicate sightings. Results are reported directly by state compilers no later than February, to the National Audubon Society. Contact Tom Belzer or the Rose Lake friends group if interested in participating in the 2023 event. 


F. Demonstrate that your community understands the critical ecological role of pollinators by documenting your Bee City USA status or by describing another substantial effort to promote pollinator health (for ideas visit the Xerxes Society and the Pollinator Partnership).

Heart of the City (HOC), a nonprofit community service organization in Fort Atkinson, embarked on an initiative called No Mow May in 2021.  This initiative, which had its genesis in the UK and was first implemented in Wisconsin in Appleton, seeks to help stem the decline in pollinators by providing an early food source for pollinators emerging from hibernation while encouraging communities to practice more natural landscaping, reduce pesticide use, and plant native species.  HOC sought and gained approval from the Fort Atkinson City Council to lift the 8-inch grass height restriction during the month of May, 2022.  The organization has done a lot of community outreach to explain the program and encourage participation through the local media and at in-person events such as information booths at the local garden center and farmer’s market. 

Large property owners such as the Fort Hospital, Dwight Foster Public Library, and Hoard Historical Museum as well as over 120 indvidual homeowners participated by not mowing their lawns during the month of May.   

I. Show that your municipality promotes and supports a bird club or other environmentally/ecologically-minded club. (Exclusions: Garden clubs, unless you demonstrate a strong focus on native plants)

The Fort Atkinson community supports the Friends of Rose Lake club (see their Facebook page here) and the Heart of the City (see their Facebook page here).

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 Fort Atkinson Chamber of Commerce with assistance from the Rose Lake Friends group maintain and distribute a "Birding Fort Atkinson" brochure that includes local birding resources (e.g. where to go birding) as well as a species checklist. 

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-In at the Dorothy Carnes County Park & Rose Lake State Natural Area observation platform Saturday May 14, 2022. Observers were treated to an amazing 63 bird species! A “Birding Sit-In” was sponsored and conducted by the Rose Lake Friends, a group dedicated to building public awareness and protection of this important Wisconsin State Natural Area. The event was held from dawn to dusk with a wonderful array of migrating and resident birds sighted from the spacious, strategically placed observation deck at the west unit of Jefferson County’s Dorothy Carnes Park.  To learn more about Rose Lake Friends contact Tom Belzer or visit Rose Lake Friends on Facebook.

The 2023 World Migratory Bird Day event is anticipated to be held on Saturday, May 6 at Dorothy Carnes County Park. The Rose Lake Friends group will once again be doing a Big Sit to educate park visitors and keep a running list of birds. 

Joined Bird City: 2016

Population: 12,368

Incorporated: 1878

Area: 5.82 mi2

Community Website

Community Bird City Page

Community Bird City Facebook Page

Community Map