Making our communities healthy for birds... and people

City of Manitowoc


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 Manitowoc has supplied evidence that they are in compliance with Wisconsin’s “Smart Growth” law for land use planning and resource management.

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 Christmas Bird Count for the Manitowoc circle, which includes data from the city, has been conducted each year since the mid-1970s. In addition, Dr. Charles Sontag (a Board member of Woodland Dunes) has been recording daily bird observations along the lakeshore at the Manitowoc Harbor and north along the parkway and trail along the Little Manitowoc River to Lincoln Park for more than 40 years, and also has years of observations from Silver Creek Park on the south side of Manitowoc. His reports for Manitowoc have been submitted to the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology and included in their seasonal observations in the Passenger Pigeon for many years and are now being entered into eBird.

Woodland Dunes also participates in the Wisconsin Bat Monitoring program.  Using an AnaBat detector attached to a PDA and GPS, volunteers walk on a pre-determined route. The detector picks up echolocation calls emitted by bats and recorded data is submitted to the Wisconsin Bat Monitoring Program database.

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.

Woodland Dunes serves as a resource for information about invasive species, both aquatic and terrestrial. Woodland Dunes has raised Galerucella beetles for purple loosestrife control and released them at a number of sites in the area including the Manitowoc harbor area and Schuette Park in Manitowoc. The nature center also coordinates aquatic invasive species monitoring for lakes in Manitowoc County, and a mapping project for terrestrial invasive plants. Woodland Dunes periodically publicizes information about identification and control of invasive species and is available for citizen referrals from the City.

In 2015, the city continues its partnership with Lakeshore Natural Resource Partnership (LNRP) to control phragmites along the Little Manitowoc River through Indian Creek Park and on lakefront property along the shoreline. Plans are in place to continue monitoring and control of this invasive species.

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.

Woodlands Dunes, an expansive state natural area, lies just outside of Manitowoc and appears in the Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail Guide-Lake Michigan Region as a premier birding area. It is a 1200-acre reserve that offers six miles of hiking trails through woodlands, meadows and marshes. The variety of habitat and plant species attracts many different species of birds including the rare sightings of Ospreys, Mourning Warblers, and Red-shouldered Hawks. At center there is also webcam on an Osprey nesting platform where three chicks fledged in 2013. The reserve is also lakeshore adjacent and features ancient ridges and swales.

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

The City of Manitowoc, along with the Woodland Dunes Nature Center & Preserve and the Citizens for a Scenic Lakeshore volunteer group, have been involved in an ongoing management plan to “Restore the Shore” on Lakeside Boulevard in Manitowoc. The goal is to improve the site in terms of quality of habitat for birds and other animals, stabilize the soils on the bluff area, and improve the aesthetic value.

To date, work has been performed to some extent in every management work section. Over 500 cubic yards of invasives, dead wood, unwanted trees, and pruned limbs have been cut and removed from the area. The groups worked to plant over 50 pounds of native and wild grass seeds, over 120 native and fruit bearing trees, and a wide variety of flowers and plants from the native plants list approved for bluff planning in the management plan.

In addition, the City of Manitowoc was notified in July that the US Fish and Wildlife Service Great Lakes Coastal Program will be funding the Manitowoc Lakefront Habitat Project, north of the Manitowoc harbor, which was submitted in spring. The Woodland Dunes Nature Center & Preserve will serve as the lead for the project, which includes establishing a songbird habitat, and will coordinate with partners to implement the project over the next field seasons. This project will not only make the area more bird-friendly but also a top destination for visiting bird watchers.

N. Show that your community works on public lands to control invasive species that have significant negative impacts on bird habitat.

The City of Manitowoc helps control invasive species by enforcing a long-standing ordinance against noxious weeds and other invasive species. This helps property owners by preventing the spread of the invasive species onto neighboring properties. The list of noxious weeds and invasives includes all of those listed in Wis. Stat. §66.0407 and the Wis. Adm. Code Chapter NR40. Noxious weeds or invasive species not removed by property owners are removed by City of Manitowoc crews. In 2016, city crews cut parcels 130 times. Many more parcels were cut by property owners, thereby stopping the spread of noxious weeds and invasive species.

This year, through a grant from the Lakeshore Natural Resources Partnership, follow up treatment and removal was conducted on Japanese knotweed at the Manitowoc Lincoln Park Zoo, Lakeside Boulevard Bluff/Red Arrow Park, and at the Manitowoc Yacht Club by the City of Manitowoc and Woodland Dunes Nature Center & Preserve. Garlic mustard, honeysuckle, and phragmities were also removed at Lakeside Boulevard Bluff/Red Arrow Park.

R. Show how your community aids a local youth group (e.g., Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of USA, 4-H Club, etc.) or conservation group in bird conservation projects (e.g., bluebird trail, habitat restoration, Wood Duck nest boxes, etc.).

Conservationists in Manitowoc County annually give away wood duck and bluebird houses to conservation-minded people to place and maintain them. Volunteers from other clubs and youth group participate in the project.

At Praise Fest, in Manitowoc’s Washington Park, SeedsNBeans gave children an opportunity to decorate their own bird feeder.

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.)

We have identified a birding “hot spot” at the Manitowoc Containment Facility/Lakeview Park. This harbor area has been outstanding for birds this summer, including sightings of the white-winged tern. Many individuals from the Wisconsin Ornithology organization have visited the area this year. A sign was designed for this area and states “Welcome to One of Wisconsin’s Best Birdwatching Hotspots:  The Manitowoc Containment Facility or CDF is a man-made structure designed to hold material excavated during harbor dredging activities. Because it is essentially an island and lies along the Lake Michigan shore, an important migratory route for many species of birds, it is an important stopover area for many of them. More than 300 species of birds have been recorded here - some nesting, others feeding and resting during migration. A cooperative project to improve the quality of habitat for songbirds, and people who use the CDF for recreation is being done by the City of Manitowoc, and Woodland Dunes Nature Center, with support from the US Dept. of Interior Fish and Wildlife Service, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Lakeshore Natural Resource Partnership. Invasive plant species will be managed, and the area planted with native vegetation which benefits songbirds.”  A photo of Ruddy Turnstones is featured on the sign.

Community Forest Management

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

The City of Manitowoc continues to be recognized as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation following its initial award in 1983.

C. Document an ongoing community program to incorporate a significant number of native trees, native shrubs, native herbaceous plants, and/or cultivars of native species in public or large-scale private landscaping.

As mentioned under the Category 1.A. for High Flyer Requirements, the City of Manitowoc, along with Woodland Dunes Nature Center & Preserve and the Citizens for a Scenic Lakeshore volunteer group, have worked to plant over 120 native and fruit bearing trees by the Lakeside Boulevard Bluff. They have also agreed upon a native plant list for this area.

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).

Woodland Dunes routinely distributes materials and information as requested about protecting birds from window strikes (Safe Windows publication from Cornell). Links to both organizations are on the city’s website.

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 Manitowoc’s webpage includes links to Bird City Wisconsin, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and the Woodland Dunes Nature Center & Preserve. A link to the Audubon Society can be found on a Lincoln Park Zoo webpage. Woodland Dunes has links on its website to the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative, National Wildlife Federation, and others which address backyard bird habitat creation.

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).

Woodland Dunes coordinates the Christmas Bird Count for Manitowoc County, promotes the Great Backyard Bird Count, and conducts annual summer bird surveys within its preserve adjacent to the City. Woodland Dunes is also continuing their Christmas Bird Count for kids aged 8 years and older in which they identified 16 different species and 188 total birds over the first two years. They also have participated in the Midwest Crane Count for numerous years.

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

Each year Woodland Dunes hosts its annual Bird Breakfast and Migration Celebration on the second Saturday in May. The Bird Breakfast was inaugurated in the 1940’s by a local librarian, and has been continued by the nature center since the 1970’s. This event also coincides with International Migratory Bird Day, and includes bird-related hikes, talks, and children’s activities. In fall, Woodland Dunes has Owlfest, a widely-known event celebrating the migration of Northern Saw-whet Owls which attracts visitors from across the State.

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.

There are some webcams in the local area where citizens can view birds. Briess Malt & Ingredients Company has a link on their website to a live Falcon cam atop their grain elevator. The Woodland Dunes website has both a Bird Feeder Cam and an Osprey Cam, so that people can enjoy birds from the comfort of their own house.

Awareness of birds in the Manitowoc area was also raised through the advertising on the website, in newspapers, newsletters, Facebook, etc. of various activities at the Woodland Dunes Nature Center, such as:

  • The Breeding Bird Atlas, which is an important citizen-science study to document what species of birds are nesting across the state,
  • A Sandhill Crane Count for Manitowoc County, which was open to new volunteers and experience counters,
  • Birding with Bernie programs to identify and observe the birds as they come to the feeders at the Chickadee Landing inside the Nature Center,
  • The Bird Breakfast & Migration Celebration, which celebrates the return of many migratory songbirds and includes a guided bird hike and children’s activities,
  • The Birds, Bees & Butterflies Summer Camp for children ages 4-7, which teaches children how to make a bird nest,
  • Friday Morning Bird Walks that help document the birds in the Woodland Dunes preserve,
  • Birding the Marsh, which offers a guided tour of the marsh to look for birds,
  • Owl Fest, where participants can meet and learn about Wisconsin owls and raptors through Wildlife of Wisconsin, enjoy nature walks, and an owl hooting contest,
  • Kids’ Eye View of Wildlife Rehabilitation with Wildlife of Wisconsin, where kids can practice wing wrapping and learn what it is like to be a wildlife rehabilitator,
  • Hawk Watch along Lakeside Boulevard where people look for migrating hawks and other birds on Lake Michigan, and the
  • Kids’ Nature Club Hike & Activity, where families can enjoy a guided nature hike and learn about owls.
  • The Christmas Bird Count for Kids, which originated in 2012 and helps children learn birding basics and gives them an opportunity to document bird species and tabulate results, was scheduled to be held in December, but then had to be re-scheduled to February 18, 2017 due to inclement weather.

At the preserve, a Bird Sanctuary with bird feeders is offered for kids to observe and watch various species and Adventure Backpacks have activities that help children learn about things such as bird nests. Geocaching is also available on site to bring more visitors to the area to view the natural plants and wildlife, such as birds.

In addition to information on the website, the newsletter for the city’s Lincoln Park Zoo featured an article in 2016 on Cedar Wax Wings and invited the public to visit their bird “Cedar” to hear his calls. While there, people are encouraged to visit the Birds of Prey exhibit. The article also provided website addresses which offered information about attracting Cedar Wax Wings to your own backyard.

Finally, the City of Manitowoc now offers a page on its website for Bird City information and links.

N. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.

Woodland Dunes offers programs about bird banding and conservation to schools, scout, garden, and other community groups on a continual basis. For example, each fall nearly 1,000 first grade students visit for their Cottonwood Trail program, during which they learn about fall bird migration and bird banding, and students help release banded songbirds.

The Manitowoc Lincoln Park Zoo has always been enthusiastic about showcasing their Birds of Prey exhibit.

International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD)

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 Bird Breakfast and Migration Celebration, held on the second Saturday in May at Woodland Dunes, coincides with International Migratory Bird Day and includes bird-related hikes, talks, bird banding, and children’s activities.  In fall, Woodland Dunes has Owlfest, a widely-known event celebrating the migration of Northern Saw-whet Owls that attracts visitors from across the state.

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Community Details

Joined Bird City: 2011

Population: 33,736

Incorporated: 1870

Area: 17.99 mi2

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