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).

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.

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.

L. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.

Monona City Ordinances Section 159-6 (A)3 prohibits allowing dogs or cats to roam at large. The City of Monona Police Department will respond to reports of cats and dogs at large as well as complaints from residents about other residents who are known to allow their pets to roam the city at large.

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.

Due to the pandemic we did not host an in-person event in 2021. The City focused on collaborating with local birders to promote a new birding hotspot on Ebird at the City of Monona's newest park, San Damiano.

The City of Monona plans to co-host a World Migratory Bird Day event in 2022 at the newly established San Damiano Park. The event hosts include, Mary Murrell and Jeff Galligan.

Mary is on the Board of Directors of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology and writes/records the WVMO Bird Report.

Jeff, is a co-founder of the BIPOC Birding Club of Wisconsin and is a member of the Madison Audubon's board of directors. 

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 will continue to plant bird friendly vegetation in the nature play space over 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 held an in-person learning program throughout the pandemic in 2021. During that time, teachers focused on environmental education and bird identification. The participants learned about bird migration and counted bird sightings at various local parks. The participants viewed various bird nests and eggs. The participants created window bird deterrents for the Monona Community Center out of recycled CDs. 

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 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.

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.

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.

Joined Bird City: 2017

Population: 7,533

Incorporated: 1969

Area: 3.35 mi2

Community Website

Community Bird City Page

Community Map