Making our communities healthy for birds... and people

City of Lake Geneva

City of Lake Geneva

HIGH FLYER

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 Lake Geneva adopted the “City of Lake Geneva Comprehensive Plan” on December 14, 2009.

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)

The City of Lake Geneva's Purple Martin Project, begun in 2018 with grant funding, involves volunteers monitoring six Purple Martin houses, located on City parkland. The volunteers check on the houses on a routine basis (approximately every three days during the spring and summer months). Volunteers were trained and equipped to monitor and record activity from nesting to fledging. In 2018 volunteers recorded 23 fledglings and this number grew to 37 in 2019 and to 48 in 2020, more than doubling in two years.  Funding from the City of Lake Geneva allowed the Committee to add a gourd-structure, with six nest boxes, for the spring of 2020.   Please see Category 1B – 2020 Purple Martin Colony Update Summary and please see the photo section for Category 1B - City of Lake Geneva 2020 - New gourd house with adult feeding nestling and Category 1Q - 2020 Lake Geneva Purple Martin Colony - nest check shows 5 eggs.

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 City of Lake Geneva’s website provides a link to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) at City Website Link to WDNRto provide residents with information on the control and removal of invasive species.  In addition, on the City of Lake Geneva's website, there is a link to a brochure on keeping "Stopping aqautic hitchhikers" posted under the "Click and Learn" section at Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers Brochure.  This is to inform boaters of ways to avoid bringing invasive species into Geneva Lake. The water quality of the lake, influences the health of fish, insects, and plants that are critical for the preservation of habitat and food sources for a wide variety of birds - including various species of Duck, Swfits, Lunes, Merganzers, Coots, and Raptors.  Citizens can also contact the arborist for help with the identification and removal of invasive plants.

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.

Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge is located in Walworth County, Wisconsin and McHenry County, Illinois and serves as a globally important corridor for migratory birds. It provides habitat for 109 species of concern that include federal and state threatened and endangered species. It was officially established in 2012 and the first segment was open to the public in 2019. As it continues to grow, Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge will connect the dots on conserved land in southeast Wisconsin and northeast Illinois and will link lands conserved by local, county, and state agencies and private organizations with aims to restore and connect a landscape that includes large blocks of grasslands, wet prairies and natural stream watercourses.

The Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge boundary employs a cores and corridors concept for wildlife preservation with a focus on migratory and grassland birds.

H. Show that the local Chamber of Commerce or a similar group (e.g., an Audubon chapter, Wild Ones, etc.) takes an active role in the planning process for protecting and enlarging favorable bird habitat.

The Geneva Lake Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization located in Walworth County https://genevalakeconservancy.org/. Over the last 40 years the Conservancy has protected more than 2,000 acres through conservation easements and land donations. The Conservancy also works with other public and private organizations to acquire and protect land with high conservation value in priority areas. They advocate through educational programs on such topics as birds, and oak tree preservation as well as programs encouraging native plantings for monarch and pollinator species. The Conservancy is dedicated to ecology, the preservation of open space and the history of our natural spaces. The Conservancy directs its efforts toward shaping zoning policies and decisions, public and private land conservation, and environmental education. In 2020, Gathering Waters, the Wisconsin’s Alliance for Land Trusts, named the Geneva Lake Conservancy the Wisconsin Land Trust of the Year. The Conservancy partners with the Lakeland Audubon Society to lead a Bird Walk each May.

Lakeland Audubon Society is a chapter of the National Audubon Society that serves the Geneva Lake area https://lakelandaudubon.com/. Their mission is to support the Audubon Society’s programs. In 2020, Lakeland continued to lead bird walks to carry forward their efforts to inspire and educate bird enthusiasts, though for Covid-safety they have had to suspend their indoor monthly meetings. They actively advocate for conservation efforts through their electronic newsletter, blog, and Facebook page, and hold a yearly bird seed sale to promote backyard bird watching and provide quality food for our overwintering and migrating species.

The City of Lake Geneva’s Chamber of Commerce - Visit Lake Geneva (VLG) - functions as the tourism promotion agency for the region as well as the Chamber of Commerce for Lake Geneva. VLG is actively engaged with the Avian Committee to promote birding events through their publications, digital advertising, and social and traditional media. In the documents section, please see screen-shots of some of their promotions of birding and bird events in their Visitor Guide: Category 1H - 2020 Visit Lake Geneva Tourism Brochure - Bird Watching Kits and Category 1H - 2020 Visit Lake Geneva Tourism Brochure - Swift Nights Out. 

As noted throughout this application, these organizations are actively collaborating with the Avian Committee on multiple projects.

L. Show that your community has restored at least two acres of woodlands, wetlands, or prairie.

The City’s 40-acre Four Seasons Park is on County Highway H just southeast of Lake Geneva. The City has restored over five acres by cleaning out scrub plants and planting wild flowers to provide food and shelter for birds and other animals. The restoration was done with community service students under City supervision. There is a significant avian population throughout the park including bird-houses for Wood-ducks, Purple Martins, and Blue Birds. Lake Geneva also built - and continues to maintain - a wooden walkway more than 1,000 feet in length. Interpretive signage provides visitors with information on both native plants and the birds that depend on them for habitat and food. See picture in photo section:Category 1L. 2020 Four Seasons Nature Preserve - Lake Geneva - Sign, Category 1L. 2020 Four Seasons Nature Preserve - Lake Geneva - Bird House, and Category 1L. 2020 Four Seasons Nature Preserve - Lake Geneva- Interpretive Signage.

M. Demonstrate that your community offers a program for private property owners who are interested in dealing with invasive plants that have significant negative impacts on bird habitat.

The City of Lake Geneva is very concerned about invasive shrubs and plants and their encroachment into wooded areas. To that effect, the City has established several ways for residents to get information on how to control the spread of invasive plants and shrubs. The City provides information on its website and links to the WDNR’s excellent resources on invasive species. A resident may call the City Arborist for information and help in dealing with these plants on their property. Residents can contact the County Extension office for information.

P. Demonstrate the implementation of a program to preserve Chimney Swift nesting and roosting sites (preferred) and/or to construct Chimney Swift towers.

The City of Lake Geneva owns several buildings, two of which have large chimneys (40+ feet tall), at the Water Department and the Geneva Lake Museum. One, the chimney at the Geneva Lake Museum attracts thousands of Chimney Swifts on an annual basis. This has been the site of the City's Swift Night Out event for the past decade.  When the City found that the other chimney (Water Department) had been capped, this was uncapped for the swifts. A third chimney, in a local church also serves as a Chimney Swift roost.  In 2020, an additional nesting chimney was identified at a retail shop in downtown Lake Geneva. Please see the photo section for:  Category 1P - 2020 Chimney Swifts Descending into the Chimney at the Geneva Lake Museum.

Q. Document the establishment of a program to promote the conservation of Purple Martins through research, state of the art management techniques, or public education.

The Purple Martin Project was started by the City of Lake Geneva Avian Committee in 2018. The Avian Committee was awarded a WE Energies grant and worked to obtain matching funds from volunteers who solicited donations. This allowed the purchase of state-of-the-art Purple Martin houses. The Committee partnered with researcher Dick Nikolai of the Wisconsin Purple Martin Association, an expert on Purple Martin breeding and behavior and a retired Wisconsin DNR wildlife biologist, to research, buy, and site these houses.  A core of volunteers was recruited to monitor the houses and collect data, interact with and educate residents and tourists, and participate in various community education programs.  Both Nikolai and Helen Pugh, from the Hoy Audubon Society, educated volunteers in state-of-the-art management techniques for the new colony.  Nikolai also worked with the volunteers to band the fledglings.   

In 2020, the City of Lake Geneva Avian Committee members and volunteers continue to monitor the colony and to look for birds banded in 2019. Since large gatherings were not possible in 2020, the Avian Committee could not hold informational meetings, but volunteers who manage houses in high foot traffic areas continued to take time to speak with, and educate, residents and visitors about the City’s Purple Martin Colony project and to encourage private citizens to put up and monitor houses as those volunteers tended the houses multiple times a week during the warm weather.  In the photo section, please see: Category 1Q - 2020 Purple Martin nest keeper volunteers - informal public outreach.  Information on the colony and on Purple Martin conservation was also posted on the Avian Committee's Facebook page.  

The Purple Martin colony has been quite successful, doubling the number of fledglings from 2018 to 2020.  With four dozen little Martins migrating from the colony houses in 2020.  In the photo section, please see: Category 1Q -  2020 Purple Martins - 9 fledglings at house and Category 1Q - 2020 Purple Martins - Lake Geneva Purple Martin Colony - Nestlings.

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.)

In 2019, the City of Lake Geneva granted the Avian Committee funds to erect an interpretive sign to educate residents and visitors about the growing colony of Purple Martins along the Lake Path. See documentation "Category 1T - Lake Geneva Regional News article on Purple Martin Colony Project - Sign & Public Education." This sign is part of the public education and outreach effort about this expanding colony. Additional funding was allocated in 2020 to purchase and install a second sign. This sign will be placed near three Purple Martin houses on the lakeshore path. These signs are part of the Avian Committee's public education and outreach about this expanding colony. Please see the photo section for "Category 1 T - Purple Martin Interpretive Signage" and in the documents section "Category 1T - Lake Geneva Regional News article on Purple Martin Colony Project - Sign & Public Education."    The Avian Committee, along with the Public Library of Lake Geneva, and funding partners Alliant Energy Foundation and Simple Bakery and Market also provide birding hotspot maps and literature in the Alliant Energy Bird-watching Kits, available for free check-out at the public library.  This project is explained in greater depth in Category 4L.

Community Forest Management

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

Lake Geneva continues to be recognized as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation following its initial award in 1995.  The city continues its commitment to maintaining this important award.

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 of Lake Geneva has a web page dedicated to Dog and Cat Owner Responsibility and also displays this information in handouts available in the City Hall Lobby. This information explains the City’s ordinance that requires that all cats be either indoors or safely confined.  Dog and cat leash laws are enforced in a cooperative effort by several city departments. All street department personnel, utility personnel, police personnel, fire personnel and the code enforcement officer are asked to report any loose dogs or cats to the Code Enforcement Officer. The animals are then caught, and either taken to the Walworth County animal rescue shelter or returned to the owner if there is a license tag on the animal and it has had its shots. The first time, the owners are warned and if the animal is caught again, a ticket will be issued.

B. Demonstrate that your community provides property owners with information on how to protect birds from window strikes (e.g., online links, brochures).

Wisconsin Bird City decals (anti-window-strike devices) are sold at City Hall. Information documents on the prevention of window strikes are available at City Hall. The source of these pamphlets is the American Bird Conservancy.

The City website provides links to the American Bird Conservancy and notes the following,"As part of our strategic conservation framework, we tackle the biggest threats to birds. When it comes to bird collisions, we work with manufacturers to develop bird-safe glass and provide easy solutions for homeowners. We push for wind turbines and associated power lines and towers to be placed in areas that minimize impacts on federally protected birds."  [City of Lake Geneva website link - bird collision information]. 

In addition, our Learning to Soar Program for 2020 required students to define a problem faced by migratory birds, develop a solution that friends and neighbors could implement to ameliorate the problem, and craft a way to communicate that information virtually.  Information created by these fifth-grade, citizen scientists included electronic pamphlets and presentations, and a video explaining various easy ways to limit window-strikes.  Information about the project was posted on the Avian Committee’s Facebook page.  See the photo section, Category 3B - 2020 City of Lake Geneva - Student Video - Bird Window Strikes - screen shots.

 

G. Show how your community regulates communication tower construction, siting, and lighting to mitigate their risk to migrating birds.

Most communication antennas in Lake Geneva are on city-owned water towers. There are few free-standing towers. Lake Geneva’s zoning does permit towers in the industrial park areas as a conditional use. However, the City has never received an application to construct such a tower. While it is illegal to ban communication towers, this conditional-use-process would make it significantly more difficult to construct a tower in Lake Geneva. 

H. Document that your community operates a significant Lights Out program that dims building lights to reduce collisions during spring and fall migration or that you have an outdoor lighting ordinance that includes Lights Out during bird migration.

Exterior Lighting Zoning Ordinance 98-707 - regulated.....The Geneva Lake Dark Sky Initiative is a local community movement raising awareness of light pollution in our area. Research shows that artificial light at night has negative effects on many species. This year the Geneva Lake Astrophysics and Steam organization, affiliated with Yerkes educational outreach, is also working on ways to monitor and measure the amount of light pollution around the lake. The City of Lake Geneva has only one tall building. Built in the 1960s, it was one of two planned towers. Following its completion, the Common Council passed an ordinance limiting the height of buildings to a maximum of 45 feet in the downtown area and 35 feet in all other parts of Lake Geneva. The second tower was never built. The initial tower had four very large spotlights on each side of the roof for security reasons. The City asked the tower association to consider turning those lights off permanently to protect the bird population and to cut down on the light that would affect the environment for astronomy. The tower association followed the City’s request and disconnected the lights in 2013. The City of Lake Geneva Ordinance: Section 98-707 Exterior Lighting Standards (Ord. No. 14-12, January 22, 2015) regulates outdoor lighting.

Public Education

A. Demonstrate that schools in your community participate in a nationally-recognized environmental education program (e.g., Flying WILD, Audubon Adventures) or that your community organizes its own substantial education and outreach program for young people. 

IN 2019 members of the Avian Committee in concert with a local educator, Ms. Jill Lorenzi, created a cross-disciplinary, bird-focused curriculum for fifth graders - Learning to Soar.  The curriculum is designed to equip students with information and skills across multiple disciplines.  Using these tools, these citizen scientists will research and use critical thinking skills to understand the complex relationships between humans and birds, and how humans’ actions impact birds’ ability to thrive.  The program was piloted in that year with eighteen students.  Pre and post-testing indicated significant, positive progress in all learning objectives.

In 2020 learning objectives were mapped for each lesson to cover the following Wisconsin 5th grade standards:  Science, (Life Science, (Cross-cutting Concepts, Science & Engineering Practice & Earth Science), English Language Arts (Reading Information Texts, Speaking and Listening), and Math (Measurement and Data).  Lesson worksheets provide formative assessments on one or two standards and tests provide more comprehensive summative assessments.  In the documents section, please see Category 4A - City of Lake Geneva - 2020 Learning to Soar Curriculum Overview.The lessons cover the following.

Unit 1.  Bird Basics:  How do birds make a living?

This unit has five knowledge and skill-building lessons and two engaged learning lessons (to prepare for an engaged learning exercise).  The mission of these lessons is to build the students’ understanding of the basic biology of birds and the necessary internal processes and external resources that are necessary for birds to survive.  This equips the students with the necessary background to move into the higher order research and reasoning necessary to complete a capstone project.  Engaged Learning Exercises for Unit 1 are integrated into the course plan to coincide with The Great Backyard Bird Count (February) or another bird-watching event.   

Unit 2.  Focus on Migratory Birds

This unit has two lessons focused on migratory birds.  Migratory birds provide a basis for introducing complexity into research and modeling (climate, transnational ecosystems/ agriculture/laws/cultures/economies, physics, and risk models). 

Unit 3. Working as a Citizen Scientist

This unit is designed to build the students’ ability to research and integrate information into a cohesion physical and oral presentation.  The structure of the assignment includes common components that can be mentored in a full-class setting, and employs volunteer coaches (ratio 1 coach to 4 students) who serve as mentors to the students and provide structured feedback to the teacher on progress and problems.  Along with recruiting coaches, the Avian Committee members also recruit judges who are equipped with standard rubrics and provide one of the “grading” components for the project. With the assistance of volunteer coaches and local experts (from entities such as the Lakeland Audubon Society and the Geneva Lake Conservancy), each student prepares a “bird fair” exhibit providing sixteen points of information about their migratory bird. Projects had to include a display board and some other research or artistic or creative display.  

In 2020 work began in class work with one fifth grade and plans were underway to replicate the curriculum as an afterschool program in two middle schools.  The first part of the curriculum was successfully implemented and students learned bird basics and played the migratory bird game.  Valued guest lecturers, such as Kevin Dickey, the President of the Lakeland Audubon Society and Nikki Marsicano, a well-know local artist, volunteered their time to educate students.  Please see the documents section for an example of a lesson presentation, designed for in-person instruction: Category A - 2020 City of Lake Geneva - Learning to Soar - Traditional lesson presentation Also, in the  photo section, please see: Category 4A - Learning to Soar Migratory Bird Game 2020, Category 4A - 2020 Learning to Soar Migration Game - Committee member as the wind, and Category 4A Learning to Soar 2020 - Working with a local artist to learn to draw birds.  However, Lake Geneva Area schools shut down in March and educators and committee members had to make a quick transition to online learning.  Afterschool programming was not possible, but presentations, worksheets, and grading rubrics were swiftly drafted to be distributed, completed, and graded using Google Classroom.  An example of a lesson in electronic format is provided in the documents section under:Category 4A - City of Lake Geneva - Learning to Soar - Virtual Assignment - Whooping Crane Puzzle - Geography - Human Impacts on Migratory Birds.

The capstone project for the class, the Bird Fair, was modified to be both a virtual assignment and a virtual presentation.  Students were asked to research a threat to birds migrating to or through the Lake Geneva Area, to devise a solution that will help address this threat, and then create a virtual presentation to equip other community members to replicate their solution.  Students came up with very creative ideas and presentations and the winning presentations were featured on the Avain Committee’s Facebook Face - Lake Geneva Bird City.  The bird walk, hosted by our partners, the Geneva Lake Conservancy and the Lakeland Audubon Society, could not be safely held in 2020, but all members are committed to going forward in 2021 and were awarded a grant in October 2020 to fund this portion of the program.  

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).

In 2020 the 18 citizen-scientist-students and their families participated in the Great Backyard Bird Count.  Students were given bird seed to take home, they learned to use ebird, they had a special lecture with the president of the Lakeland Audubon Society, and then they uploaded their observations into the ebird database.  The students and their families report continuing their bird watching and bird recording even after the official count.   Students recorded 104 bird sightings, identifying 18 species.  In the photo section please see Category 4C - 2020 President of Lakeland Audubon equipping students to participate in the Backyard Bird Count, Category 4C - 2020 Example of slide from Backyard Bird Count presentation and Category 4C - 2020 Figure showing results - Student Backyard Bird Count, Lake Geneva.  In the document section, Category 4C - 2020 Summary - City of Lake Geneva - Backyard Bird Count student project. 

The Lakeland Audubon Society has been conducting a Christmas Bird Count that encompasses the city for many years. The count circle is centered about two miles west of the city.  More than 50 different species were tallied. Highlights included Northern Flicker, Brown Creeper and Common Redpoll.  In addition, Lakeland also held eagle walks to monitor the growing Bald Eagle population in our region.

D. Describe your community-sponsored annual bird festival. This must be a multi-day event or a truly exceptional one-day event.

Each year, for the past decade, the City of Lake Geneva Avian Committee, in conjunction with the Geneva Lake Museum presents an annual Swift Night Out Program to help raise awareness and encourage interest in Chimney Swifts. Lake Geneva is fortunate to have large populations of Chimney Swifts that migrate through each fall, as well as several tall chimneys, notably at the Geneva Lake Museum, that serve as overnight stops for large flocks for several weeks in September.  The chimney at the Geneva Lake Museum is a traditional gathering place for thousands of these birds as they migrate.  In the past years this event was a one-night event with an indoor educational program by a bird expert, and a special programming for children. At dusk, at the conclusion of the indoor program, everyone went outside as thousands of these acrobatic birds descended into the chimney.  

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the traditional informational program was altered with safety in mind. Not willing to give up the Swift Night Out Program for 2020, the Avian Committee worked to make the event Covid-safe by spreading the viewing out over seven days.  While this meant there could not be an indoor program, outdoor viewing on the museum grounds and parking lots was expanded to seven nights. Museum staff and Avian Committee members hosted visitors and prepared and distributed an information sheet on Chimney Swifts, answered the many questions people had about the Swifts, and stressed the vital importance of preserving these local chimneys for their migration.  Everyone was encouraged to gather outside the museum at dusk, safely space, and wear masks to view the spectacle of thousands of Swifts gathering and descending into the large Museum chimney. 

The  public was invited through flyers, Facebook posts, a radio program, and newspaper articles to view the swifts from the Museum parking lot over the course of a week. Our partner entities- Lake Geneva Museum, Lakeland Audubon, the Public Library of Lake Geneva, Visit Lake Geneva, the City’s Tourism Commission, as well as local businesses helped promote this event through social media, flyers, and yard signs. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the event was very successful, attracting more than 150 people to the outdoor area at the museum.  Quite a few people watched from the comfort and safety of their automobiles and were not in the final tally of attendees. The event generated print and electronic news articles, radio coverage, and a story on a Milwaukee television news.

Since an in-person children’s program was not possible, a special Chimney Swift Curriculum was created, mapped to educational standards, uploaded in a format compatible with Google Classroom, and distributed to public and parochial schools.  In addition, to engage any interested children and families, an educational “Bird Word Scramble” was created and published on the Avian Committee website.

Please see the photo section for Category 4D - Social media promotion for Swift Nights Out Lake Geneva - 2020, Category 4D - Swifts descending into the Geneva Lake Museum Chimney 2020 (screen shot from video), and Category 4D – City of Lake Geneva – Facebook puzzle – Youth engagement for Swift Nights Out 2020.  In the documents section, please see Category 4D - Special Curriculum - Chimney Swift presentation City of Lake Geneva Avian Commitee and Category 4D – Educational handout for Lake Geneva Swifts Night Out 2020.

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

In 2020, the City of Lake Geneva Avian Committee had strong collaborative relationships with multiple non-profit and educational entities.  Prior to the pandemic, avian-and conservation-related partners, such as the Lakeland Audubon Society and the Geneva Lake Conservancy worked together with the Avian Committee, the Public Library of Lake Geneva, and the Geneva Lake Museum to support the Learn to Soar school program at the Saint Francis Elementary School and various school and public education/outreach programs, such as the Backyard Bird Count, and planning for the World Migratory Bird Day event at the Museum.  The Public Library of Lake Geneva and the Geneva Lake Museum have dedicated staff and facilities to support the program.  The Lakeland Audubon Society and the Geneva Lake Conservancy have committed staff to providing in-class and outdoor experiences for students.  These two organizations, along with the Avian Committee worked together to write a grant to fund bird-walks for interested students and their families.  This grant application was successful and the grant was awarded to these partners in October of 2020.  This experience has also linked in another member for this collaboration - The Environmental Education Foundation - the group that provided the funding.  This group is now interested in engaging in outreach to youth.

The Geneva Lake Museum has been a valued partner and has joined with the Avian Committee of Lake Geneva in sponsoring public engagement and educational programs (including hosting events such as Swift Night Out and informational presentation by Avian Committee members or organized by the committee).  In 2020, the Museum once again hosts a "Parade of Trees."  This annual event is promoted by the Museum (and participating organizations) on social media and newsletters and the like.  The mission of the event is two-fold, to help non-profit organizations get the message out about their causes and to raise money for local charities.  This year (2020) the Avian Committee has once again joined in this event, decorating a "Bird Tree" to raise awareness of bird conservation.  Some of the decorations on the tree, the little bird houses, were part of a children's program put on by another Lake Geneva bird partner (the Public Library of Lake Geneva).  In the photos sections please see: Category 4E - 2020 Lake Geneva Museum - Parade of Trees - Avian Committee Bird Tree.

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).

Beginning in 2017, the Geneva Lake Conservancy has been promoting the importance of natural planting in the life cycle of the Monarch Butterflies and other pollinators species.  Each year they organize and promote the sale of three species of Milkweed and other important plants that provide food and natural habitats for migratory butterflies and other pollinators.  Please see the pictures section for a screen-shot of the website that provides information on obtaining and planting milkweed, Category 4F - Pollinator Program - Geneva Lake Conservancy screen-shot of website.

J. Document that a municipal building has significant bird-friendly landscaping that features native plants AND signage that explains the importance of native plants and providing diverse habitat for birds (e.g., brush piles, water features).

The Public Library of Lake Geneva has a garden of native, perennial plants. This garden was developed by Northwinds Perennial Farm.  The signage in the garden explains the benefit of native plants. Information includes, "This garden will be visited by large numbers of pollinators, moths, butterflies, bees, and diverse seasonal bird activity, providing food and material for nest building." In the photo section, please see Category 4J - Native Plant Gardens at Lake Geneva Public Library and Category 4J - Sign Explaining the Value of Native Plants for Birds and Others - Such as Pollinators.

L. Show that your community works with traditionally underserved communities to increase their access to natural areas, environmental education, birding resources, and local environmental experts.

With the support of a grant from the Alliant Energy Foundation, the City of Lake Geneva Avian Committee assembled six bird-watching backpacks. These backpacks include binoculars, a bird identification book, a diary for recording observations, and a special city-specific birding hotspot map. The Public Library of Lake Geneva volunteered strong support for the program by housing and lending the backpacks to any resident or visitor. The Lakelake Audubon Society provided technical assistance and advice on the components of the kit. This is a no-cost resource available to any family or individual. The Mayor and City Council recognized this partnership and this new resource at a city council meeting and the media coverage of the event helped promote the new program.

As the year 2020 began, the Public Library of Lake Geneva reported that the backpacks had been checked out 26 times.  However, once safer-at-home orders were put in place, the library was not able to safely lend the kits out so they were not available during the spring and summer.

The popularity of the Bird-Watching Kits and the partnership with the Public Library of Lake Geneva inspired activity to improve the backpacks.  In August of 2020, the Simple Bakery and Market awarded the Avian Committee a spot in their fund-raising project - Cookies for a Cause.  Through the sale of Purple Martin cookies, Simple raised and donated more than $300, which the Avian Committee will use to add child-friendly materials to the Bird-Watching kits.

In the photo section, please see a screenshot of excerpt of an article, Category 4L - Bird Watching Kits - Lake Geneva Regional News article excerpt and Category 4L - 2020 Fund-raising at Simple Bakery and Market - posting on City of Lake Geneva Avian Committee Facebook page. 

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 City of Lake Geneva traditionally celebrates World Migratory Bird Day with a special emphasis on educating the next generation of citizen scientists and bird advocates. In 2019 the City’s Avian Committee developed a strong collaboration with multiple organizations to plan, execute, and promote this community event. The 2020 plans included a public education program at the Geneva Lake Museum (as part of the Museum’s Tuesdays at Two lecture series), collaboration with the Public Library, the Geneva Lake Conservancy, Visit Lake Geneva, and the Lakeland Audubon Society to support the elementary school program (Learning to Soar) and its capstone project, a “Bird Fair” presentation at the Geneva Lake Museum that is open to the public. Traditionally, elementary schools not participating iin the Bird Fair use this event as an educational field trip.

When the Covid pandemic made it impossible to hold large, public educational sessions and made it impossible for volunteers to physically meet with and coach students, members of the collaborative group quickly adapted to find a way for the citizens and visitors to Lake Geneva to learn more about migratory birds and to celebrate World Migratory Bird Day. The first major shift was to redefine the event to a month-long celebration. Rather than “Migratory Bird Day,” Lake Geneva held a “World Migratory Bird Month.” This extension of time allowed all the members of the collaborative group to post educational materials on their websites and Facebook faces and share those materials with the other member groups.

The information hub for this effort was the City of Lake Geneva’s Avian Committee’s Facebook page. Please see the photo section for: Category 6B - 2020 World Migratory Bird Month - City of Lake Geneva - Virtual Celebration Facebook Invitation (screenshot).   The Avian Committee used this virtual resource to post information on migratory birds, repost information and links to those groups providing additional migratory bird information and resources. Anyone driving down the main street in Lake Geneva would notice the Public Library’s lighted sign promoting the Facebook page and the World Migratory Bird Month virtual celebrations.  In the photo section, please see: Category 6B - 2020 World Migratory Bird Month - Lake Geneva Public Library Promotion - Library sign.

The Avian Committee created new resources, such as the "Bird Word Scramble" (please see the photo section for Category 6B - 2020 City of Lake Geneva World Migratory Bird Month - Word Scramble about Migratory Birds - posted on Facebook) to inspire young students and send them to age-appropriate resources to do research.  The Committee also posted pictures and links to information sources for adults and more seasoned bird watchers.

Google Classroom became the virtual site for engaging students and to continue the City’s efforts to equip fifth graders to participate in a World Migratory Bird Fair. Committee members and volunteers could not coach student participants face-to-face, but were able to hold small group on-line equipping sessions. Rather than a physical “Bird Fair” event at the Geneva Lake Museum, the students were asked to create virtual presentations that could be shared online. In the documents section, please see Category 6B - 2020 City of Lake Geneva - World Migratory Bird Day/Month - Project Assignment for Virtual Bird Fair. Based on a civic engagement model, students were tasked to define a human-made threat to birds that migrate to or through Lake Geneva, craft a practical way to help limit that threat, and create an online presentation to equip their neighbors to put that solution into action. Student presentations were judged by Avian Committee members. Three winners were chosen. The winners presented information on ways to prevent window strikes, planting native trees to support bird habitat, and supporting Purple Martin colonies by building bird houses. The winners were celebrated on the Avian Committee’s Facebook page and with special certificates from the city. In the documents section please see Category 6B - 2020 World Migratory Bird Month Judges’ Comments to a De-identified Student and in the photo section, please see Category 6B - 2020 World Migratory Bird Month City of Lake Geneva - Virtual Bird Fair - Examples of student projects.

 

Joined Bird City: 2010

Population: 7,771

Incorporated: 1883

Area: 6.55 mi2

Community Website

Community Bird City Page

Community Bird City Facebook Page

Community Tourism Page

Community Map