City of Monona

City of Monona

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.

Monona’s Comprehensive Plan, updated in 2016 shows that the City is in compliance with Wisconsin’s “Smart Growth” Law.

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 City of Monona is located on the Yahara River watershed and includes parks and shoreline natural areas on Lake Monona, the Yahara River, and Upper Mud Lake that provide valuable bird and wildlife habitat. The Monona Wetland Conservancy on the South Beltline, designated c. 1992, welcomes thousands of out-of-town visitors with a stunning view of this large wetland natural area and provides critical stopover habitat for thousands of annually migrating birds as well as native habitat for resident Wisconsin birds including keystone species as Bald Eagles and Ospreys. Sandhill Cranes nest in the Monona Wetland Conservancy and their calls can be heard at homes in the vicinity.

The City has also spent a number of years working to restore Woodland Park (see 1D below).

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

It is important to note that Monona is landlocked, surrounded by the City of Madison, Lake Monona, and the Monona Wetland Conservancy. As a practical matter it cannot “add bird habitat”, but it has protected a great deal of important habitat within the city limits.

The City of Monona recently applied for a native plant grant through Plant Dane which is facilitated through the Dane County Land & Water Resource Department. The native plants that the City of Monona requested are for establishing a bird and butterfly garden in the North side of Winnequah Park by the lagoon. 

The City of Monona has expended tens of thousands of dollars over the last decade or longer to restore Woodland Park to an oak savanna/woodlot. The city initially commissioned Scott Taylor to prepare a Management Plan for that park which the city has followed closely. Page 13 has particularly relevant detail regarding bird habitat:

Wildlife Habitat Values of Woodland Park & Ecological Interactions with Neighboring Lands

The wildlife habitat value of the Park stems from vegetative composition and structure in the Park itself and from the presence of other natural areas adjacent to the Park. The fields, shrublands, woods and water of the open lands east of the park – those of the Aldo Leopold Nature Center and Edna Taylor Conservation Park – certainly host many populations of insects, birds, and mammals, some of whom may partially meet their need for food, cover, and space by utilizing the Park. Mammals such as deer, fox, coyotes, raccoons, opossums, and skunks or birds such as hawks and owls could nest in one area and forage in the other. The proximity of Woodland Park to other open space lands probably enhances its wildlife habitat value very significantly.

The presence of Woodland Park probably enhances song bird diversity of surrounding neighborhoods since it offers more diversity of food sources and nesting cover than is found in a typical urban setting. Songbirds could use habitats inside and outside of the Park, possibly permitting the coexistence of a greater range of species. Nonetheless, the urban surroundings will probably limit the range of bird species that can inhabit the Park since aggressive birds that thrive in the city, like blue jays and European starlings, could displace less common birds that might otherwise inhabit open oak woods, like red-headed woodpeckers and eastern bluebirds (Ehrlich et al. 1988).

Use by Migratory Birds

Woodland Park could be an important stopover site for migratory songbirds during spring and fall migrations. Oak forests would be especially attractive to migrants since oak trees support relatively large numbers of foliage insects that many birds prey on (Ewert & Hamas 1996). The Park could be especially important to migrants in the spring when food sources can be scarce. Even birds that require large tracts of forest to breed could still make use of small tracts like Woodland Park for stopover sites during migration.

Key Habitat Components of the Park

  1. Standing dead trees, fallen logs and decay cavities in large, old trees. Standing dead trees and decay cavities are used for nesting by many birds and mammals, like woodpeckers, Ecological Assessment & Management Plan City of Monona – Woodland Park Chickadees, raccoons, squirrels and bats. Standing dead trees and fallen logs are readily colonized by insects, which then become a food source for birds and mammals. Fallen logs provide nesting sites for small mammals and cover for salamanders, who seek the cool, moist conditions beneath them.
  1. Mast-producing tree species. The acorns produced by oaks are a critical, high-energy food source for white-tailed deer, woodpeckers, squirrels and blue jays. The fleshy fruit produced by the black cherries are an important summer food source for birds. The large oaks will probably continue to produce acorns for many decades, but as the oaks die and are replaced by other species (or are not replaced at all), there will be fewer acorns for wildlife, possibly making winter survival more difficult for some animals. The abundance of black cherries and their fruit will probably increase in coming decades.
  1. Layered vegetation. The layered forest vegetation in Natural Community 1, consisting of shrub, sapling, small tree and mature tree layers, creates a diversity of nesting and foraging niches for songbirds and can result in greater songbird diversity than a community with less structure. The presence of dense buckthorn colonies in Unit 1, however, may not benefit bird diversity; some researchers have found that birds nesting in buckthorn may be more vulnerable to predators (Schmidt & Whelen 1999).

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 City of Monona has approved an ordinance that permits natural landscaping, Chapter 263-5 – Regulation of Natural Lawns.

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

City of Monona encourages property owners to consult with experts to determine best plants and layout. City of Monona recognizes the use of such plants to preserve or restore diverse biologic plant communities and increase the infiltration 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.

Each year, on Parks Pride Day volunteer work stations are organized and hosted by Monona Parks & Recreation. Volunteer participants learn how to control and remove invasive species such as garlic mustard, dame's rocket, burdock, buckthorn, honeysuckle and many more. In-person volunteer workday events resumed in 2022.

The City of Monona offers detailed information on the city website regarding invasive species: what is invasive, what causes them, and what to do. 

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

The City of Monona recently purchased the San Damiano property, it is currently maintained as a park. At just under 10 acres, and with nearly 1,500 feet of Lake Monona shoreline, the property known as San Damiano has been described as epic, iconic, and even magical. The property’s small arboretum of cedars, sycamores, oaks, pines, and apple trees serves as a haven for a wide variety of native and migratory birds, and at least one natural spring still gurgles beneath its topsoil. Perched atop a natural limestone bluff, the property offers breathtaking views of the Wisconsin State Capitol, and a peaceful natural expanse, amidst the bustling sprawl of Madison’s East Side.

Since acquiring the property, community members have been able to access the site for birding making it a hot-spot location on eBird. 

The Parks Department worked to clear paths and trails for the public and creating an easily accessible bird viewing habitat.

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 City of Monona's afterschool club has partnered with Plant Dane to restore a natural bird habitat in Winnequah Park. The children in the program work to remove invasive species and plant native bird-friendly plants.

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.)

The City of Monona's newest park, San Damiano, has become a hot spot for birders. The park has placed signage with images and descriptions of frequent flyers in the area as well as a QR code to view/document additional birds in the area.

Community Forest Management

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

Monona continues to be recognized as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation following its initial award in 1990.

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 City of Monona's Parks and Recreation Department implemented a native micro-forest in Winnequah Park in 2022. 45 trees were planted with a variety of the following species: Shagbark Hickory, Northern Catalpa, Yellowwood, Emerald City Tuliptree, Autumn Blaze Pear, Swamp White Oak, American Dream Oak, and Bur Oak. The tree selection reflects a natural forest setting while providing habitats for birds and other animals.

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 Monona’s website provides information about the threat that outdoor cats pose to the health of humans, cats, and wildlife as well as providing tips on how to prevent window collisions.

The City of Monona shares educaitonal information on social media (instagram, facebook, etc.) about the threat outdoor cats pose.

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

The City of Monona’s website provides information about the threat that outdoor cats pose to the health of humans, cats, and wildlife as well as providing tips on how to prevent window collisions.

F. Demonstrate that your community enforces an ordinance that requires domestic cats to be kept indoors, on a leash, or in an enclosure to prevent them from preying on birds and other wildlife and spreading disease.

Chapter 159-6 of the City of Monona ordinances states that it is unlawful for any person within the City of Monona to own, harbor or keep any dog, cat or other animal in a domesticated environment, which: Is at large within the limits of the City. The City enforces the ordinance by impounding of animals (§ 159-7). In addition to any penalty hereinafter provided for a violation of this chapter, any animal control or law enforcement officer may impound any dog, cat or other animal which violates any provision of § 159-6. Violations and penalties are disseminated as a means of enforcement (§ 159-11). Any person violating sections of this chapter shall be subject to the general penalty set forth in § 1-4 of the Code.

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 Monona’s website provides information about the ways residents can create a backyard bird habitat.

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).

Monona is included in the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count. Citizen Science birders record total species and total bird counts every year. Results are posted to Audubon and Cornell Labs eBird and contribute to over 100 years of scientific data on bird populations and the impacts of human activity and other factors on those populations. Birders and other nature recreation enthusiasts also regularly 'flock' to popular Monona natural areas including the large Monona Wetland area and help record Citizen Science data to eBird year-round. 

Monona is also included in the annual Sandhill Crane Count. In recent years up to seven birds have been seen. Monona resident Peter McKeever participates in the Crane Count.

Aldo Leopold Nature Center participates in the Great Backyard Bird Count.

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

 The City of Monona hosts an annual World Migratory Bird Day event every second Saturday of May. Led by Mary Murrell, a former Board of Directors member of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology, the event includes a guided birding tour that delves into the theme of WMBD. Mary's expertise shines as she navigates the intricate world of bird-human relationships during the tour. The city ensures a comprehensive experience by providing binoculars, bird checklists, and an opportunity to capture stunning bird photographs.


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

The City of Monona runs an after school club and summer day camp through the Parks & Recreation department. The department applied for a native plant grant in 2020 through the Plant Dane Native Plants for Schools and Community Gardens. The department secured grant funding and began planting a bird and butterfly garden in the summer of 2020 in the new nature play space within the Winnequah Park. The department continues to purchase plants annually for the continued restoration of the native bird garden and will continue for the next several years.

The bird and butterfly garden will serve as a learning tool for the community of Monona and our child-care programming. Our school children will develop a connection with nature in an urban setting as they learn about native plants, birds, and the benefits they have on water quality and the ecosystem.

The Monona Afterschool Club holds an in-person learning program daily M-F. During their program time, teachers focus on environmental education, native plant ID, invasive plant removal, and bird identification. The participants learn about bird migration and count bird sightings at various local parks. The participants view various bird nests and eggs. The participants created window bird deterrents for the Monona Community Center out of recycled CDs. 

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).

On April 18, 2022, Monona's City Council passed a resolution changing the City's ordinance to allow for participation in No Mow May. 

The City of Monona provided community members with information on their website on how to participate, the importance of participating, and the effects of participating.

G. Provide a link to your community’s Bird City Wisconsin webpage, which must be visible from the main page of your municipal website (it may be located at the first level of a drop down menu on the main page but cannot be any less visible) OR demonstrate that your Bird City effort has a significant social media presence.

Bird City Monona Page

To access the bird city page from the City's home page ( you must hover over the top Community section tab and click on Bird City Monona.

H. Document a substantial regular program that educates young people on any of the following topics: climate change, energy efficiency, green/bird-safe buildings, or environmental sustainability.

The Monona Parks & Recreation Department has held a Monona Afterschool Club for the City since 2018.  The club is held for 45 school-age students and has a main emphasis on environmental literacy. The participants gather daily (M-F) from 2:30-5:30 pm. During program hours students are taught lessons that help them understand the ecological, economic, and cultural connections between humans and the environment. Lessons include: bird migration/ID, bird and pollinator habitats, water quality and aquatic macroinvertebrates ID, native plant ID, wild foraging, seed harvesting/saving, recycling, park clean up, composting, sustainability, and tree ID. The lessons are integral to helping them recognize the impact of their decisions (and others) on the environment.

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 Monona Senior Center hosts a monthly Bird & Nature series every 3rd Wednesday. All events are led by master naturalists at Aldo Leopold Nature Center. The series encourages senior citizens to explore nature every month, year round by foot while learning about different birds, pollinators, and trees.

N. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.

The City has a long-term lease with the Aldo Leopold Nature Center for its use of the approximately 20 acres adjacent to Woodland Park. The City website has links to community organizations, like ALNC. The organization occasionally has bird programs for the public and also offers bird-themed summer camps and preschool programs.

Aldo Leopold staff and other Madison area FUN Friends of Urban Nature partner groups are collaborating to co-sponsor Bird and Nature Outings at Aldo Leopold and Edna Taylor, making Monona part of the year round regularly scheduled family friendly Bird and Nature Outings program. Informal walks, canoe, and bike outings are led by naturalists and other topic experts who help participants enjoy nature recreation and nature education and connect communities, families, kids and minorities with their nearby urban natural areas. Every 4th Saturday of the month 10-11:30 am Bird and Nature Outings at Aldo Leopold and the adjoining Edna Taylor Park started in April 2017 and will continue annually.

Energy & Sustainability

B. Show that your community goes above and beyond in its support for, and implementation of, green transportation (e.g., bike trails, rideshare programs, bike trails/lanes, etc.). Be sure to utilize the narrative to illustrate why your community is exceptional because standard practice will not receive credit.

The City of Monona implemented two B-cycle locations:Schluter Park and Grand Crossing Park.

Madison B-cycle is an urban bike sharing program that allows you to rent bikes. The bikes have adjustable seats for people of all sizes, as well as a basket for easy carrying. To join or learn more visit B-cycle.

B-cycle stations in the community help provide a strong sense of community pride in the City's conservation accomplishments and efforts. Healthy, functioning natural systems in our community enhance environmental assistance from birds such as insect, rodent, and weed plant control.

J. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.

The City of Monona's Parks & Recreation department recently purchased two e-bikes for staff members to use to get to various locations for their shifts. Additionally, the City purchased an electric vehicle for staff to use Spring-Fall for transporting equipment and staff to program locations.

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.

The City of Monona has plans to partner with BIPOC Birding Club and Wisconsin Society for Ornithology members to host WMBD at San Damiano Park. The City will be involved in helping market the event and will have a table with our Bird City Wisconsin information and post on social media.

The City of Monona will partner with the Aldo Leopold Nature Center and Madison FUN as they have already started offering new monthly family friendly Bird and Nature Outings from 10 to 11:30 the 4th Saturday every month year round, meeting at Aldo Leopold Nature to explore Edna Taylor Conservation Park.  The City will help market the ongoing event as well as offer additional locations for bird outings in the City of Monona.

The City of Monona's After School Club for grades K-5th will conduct a year-long bird count during the 2021-2023 school year to support the WMBD theme. The Club will also create bird feeders, and informational flyers to be placed at the Monona Community Center.

The City of Monona will use their Facebook page to promote WMBD by updating photo banners, posts, and displaying artwork that supports the WMBD theme.

The City of Monona will be planting bird friendly landscape around two of their park signs. The City of Monona will use native landscaping and layered vegetation of shrubs, flowers, and grasses to encourage bird visitations and bird habitat.

The City of Monona's radio station WVMO will continue it's weekly Bird Report section featuring Mary Murrell. 

Joined Bird City: 2017

Population: 7,533

Incorporated: 1969

Area: 3.35 mi2

Community Website

Community Bird City Page

Community Map