Making our communities healthy for birds... and people

Village of McFarland

Village of McFarland

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 Village of McFarland approved a comprehensive plan in 2006 that is pursuant with the State of Wisconsin “Smart Growth” plan and has been in compliance since. Under the comprehensive plan rare species occurrences are identified and marked by the WDNR’s Natural Heritage Inventory, and thus have protection. Generally these areas are located in the southeast corner of the Village and along the Yahara River and Mud Lake. Key objectives of the plan include preserving streams, drainageways, floodplains, wetlands, wildlife habitat, steep slopes, woodland areas, and other natural features. Furthermore, the Village continues to recommend that environmental corridors and other key features be preserved and that they aid adjacent Towns, Dane County, and WDNR in preparing the conservation plan for the area containing the Door Creek wetlands, Lower Mud Lake wetlands, and surrounding agricultural land.

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 Village of McFarland has volunteers that monitor the Purple Martin houses throughout the Village. Volunteers maintain the houses, collect data and submit the information to the Wisconsin Purple Martin Association.

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

As McFarland continues to expand, additional park areas must be acquired and developed. The Village has developed an extensively detailed master plan for Urso Community Park, which is adjacent to the conservancy lands to the south and west. From the perspective of biological communities, Urso provides a spectrum of community types including wetlands, open water, savanna, and oak woodland. The sites offer an excellent opportunity for restoration of high quality oak woodland, oak savanna, mesic and wet prairie, and wetlands. Public participation is also an integral part of the improving park areas. From public meetings and survey respondents priority has been placed on improving existing park facilities, expanding pedestrian and bicycle trail systems, and developing a management plan for conservancy areas. Preserving the natural features within Penitto Creek, Mud Lake and Door Creek watersheds are also deemed essential. Marsh Woods Park already has a detailed Assessment and Management Plan and provides ample habitat and sustainable resources for birds and other wildlife in oak-hickory woods, Sedge meadow, wet meadow and shrub-carr. McFarland Community Forest, in conjunction with the Township of Dunn, also has a Forest Stewardship Management plan detailing its 10 acres.

E. Describe your community’s ordinance demonstrating that your community does not restrict natural/native landscaping that emphasizes native plants and non-turf lawns.

In addition to the comprehensive plan, the Village of McFarland has approved an ordinance that permits natural landscaping, Chapter 59 - Vegetation, Article III - Natural Landscaping.

The intent and purpose of the ordinance is to promote managed environmentally sound native vegetation landscapes while maintaining public safety and good neighbor relations.

The Village encourages property owners to consult with experts to determine best plants and layout. The Village recognizes the use of such plants to preserve or restore diverse biologic plant communities and increase the inflitration of storm water runoff.

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.

McFarland provides numerous materials on invasive species removal and control. The Village staff regularly makes resources on invasive plants and insects available to the village residents. Hard copies are currently available at the Public Works Department. Information on these issues also appears in the Village's quarterly newsletter.

I. Document a recent project that created or restored bird habitat in your community. (Exclusions: Bird feeders and small-scale artificial nesting structures)

In early 2019 the Village of McFarland started construction on a disc golf course at Urso/Schuetz park. Primary steps included removing invasive understory and oak release of an approximately 8 acre oak woodland. Barred owls and Coopers Hawks are frequently seen utilizing these new areas. Additionally, the Village is currently restoring an additional 5.5 acres adjacent to the disc golf course. This land will be utilized to expand recreatioal activities including creating easily accessible bird viewing habitat.

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

Approximately 4 acres of oak woodlands is well into the restoration process at Marsh Woods park. Invasive shurbs and trees have been removed from the site with continued efforts to manged invasive seedlings. Village Fire Department conducts prescribed burning. Some oak release has been done with continued monitoring of future removals being assessed. Future activies include herbaceous invasive species removal, continued prescribed burning, native shrub plantings and ground layer supplement seeding.

Efforts from volunteers and Village staff have created habitat and hiking trails for park users. Trails have created access to Lower Mud lake providing another excellent oppurtunity for waterfowl viewing.

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.

Purple Martin houses that were previously erected continue to provide the Martins with shelter, a safe place from predators along with a place to raise their young. These Martin houses are common destination for park visitors to enjoy these wonderful birds. Purple Martin houses are located in four public parks in McFarland, with two next to our Bird Observation deck. A viewing benches are near all houses so citizens can sit and relax while watching the birds. In the fall of 2016, a new warming shelter was built with 2 large overhead glass garage doors that overlook Lower Mud Lake. Several citizens have taken advantage of this site to bird watch with their telescopes during inclement weather. In the fall of 2017 we received a donation of a new Purple Martin bird house from an involved citizen.

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.).

The local girl scout troop constructed and installed approximately 20 nest boxes in school forest and adjoining village park property. The nest boxes ranged from small wren boxes to larger wood duck boxes.

Community Forest Management

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

The Village of McFarland continues to be recognized as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation.

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.

The Villages street tree planting program utilizes a high percentage of natives and cultivars of natives. The programs 2019 planting resulted in 87% native/native cultivar trees (89 out of 102 trees planted). 

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 Village of McFarland regularly has an informational packet available at the Parks/Public Works Office on keeping cats indoors and the hazards free roaming cats pose to birds. The information comes from the American Bird Conservancy and their “Cats Indoors!” program. The same information is also made available to the public during the Village’s annual International Migratory Bird Day celebration and Bird Festival.

C. Show that your municipality practices Integrated Pest Management, using natural pest control and the best available science to minimize pesticide and herbicide use.

The Village of McFarland utilizes IPM practices. Historically, staff research or solicit information on best practices to minimize chemical use. The Village is currently developing a formal pesticide use policy that will further minimize pesticide use on Village property. An example would be identifiying herbicide free parks. Weed control in these parks will occur through mechanical means such as mowing and hand pulling weeds. 

L. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.

The Village of McFarland’s Natural Resources Committee identified several sensitive bird nesting areas that had significant dog issues. The Village had custom signs made and placed at Marsh Woods Park on the shore of Lower Mud Lake. The signs explicitly denote the area as sensitive bird nesting grounds and prohibit unleashed dogs. The signs have worked out very well in controlling off leash dogs. The Village will continue to evaluate property to determine additional areas as sensitive bird nesting habitat.

Public Education

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

The 2nd Saturday in April 2019 was the ninth annual McFarland Bird Festival. 

Leading up to the festival, Joy Zedler, UW Professor of botany, spoke at the McFarland Library on the importance of maintaining quality wetlands and their role in our environment.

This year we were fortunate to have licensed bird banders on hand. They demonstrated the process of banding, weighing, and taking vital statistics on the birds.Data form. The banded birds are used to study avian behavior and ecology; monitor populations; restore endangered species; assess the effects of environmental disturbances; and educate people about important bird habitats as those provided by the Village conservation areas. Close encounters with birds is always exciting for those attending the festival.

Activities for all ages were held in the park that morning, including:

  • Spotting scopes were set up on the viewing deck overlooking Lower Mud Lake. Knowledgeable birders were available to assist in identifying the various waterfowl species seen on the lake.
  • Guided bird walks to Marsh Woods conservation area was highlighted by seeing an active eagle nest.
  • The Aldo Leopold Nature Center displayed several bird mounts and also had animal parts such as fur, feathers, claws and even a snapping turtle carapace that festival attendees were allowed to touch.
  • The E.D. Locke Public Library had books on birds available for people were able to check out (with a library card) at the Festival.

The festival strives to incorporate community members and groups. Some groups involved were:

  • The local McFarland Girl Scout troop built and displayed bird houses which were later installed in Village Parks.
  • McFarland school children decorated the walls of the Festival venue with bird themed art work.
  • McFarland High School students assisted with face painting and a bird craft.
  • The local Pick n Save donated bakery goods which were sold to raise funds for future Bird Festivals.

The Bird Festival continues to be well attended. The Bird Festival recognizes International Migratory Bird Day, highlights annual education themes, and displays the many ways birds enrich our lives.


Energy & Sustainability

J. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.

The Public Works building receives approxoimately 56 kWh per month from roof top installed solar panels.

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 Village of McFarland celebrated IMBD. Please see 4d above. The event was held at Lewis Park, adjacent to a hotspot for migrating waterfowl. We also had a guest speaker at the local library prior to the main event.

Joined Bird City: 2011

Population: 7,808

Incorporated: 1920

Area: 3.55 mi2

Community Website

Community Map