Making our communities healthy for birds... and people

City of Two Rivers

City of Two Rivers


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 Two Rivers has adopted a plan that is in compliance with Wisconsin’s Smart Growth law.

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)

Bird monitoring is a common practice in Two Rivers. Two Rivers is a popular place for birders to visit, and with the development of eBird, more and more lists are being recorded. Part of the Woodland Dunes preserve lies within the City of Two Rivers, and checklists are submitted weekly to eBird. Point counts are conducted during migration periods in spring and fall, and during nesting season.  All checklists are submitted to eBird.  In addition, Woodland Dunes has banded more than 30,000 birds in and adjacent to Two Rivers, more than 5,000 of them Northern Saw-whet Owls, and is still a licensed banding station. More than 260 species have been recorded at Woodland Dunes.

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)

Several hundred acres of Woodland Dunes has been designated a State Natural Area.

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 refers the public to Woodland Dunes Nature Center for information on control of invasive species and has assisted Woodland Dunes in its efforts to remove invasive species on City property adjacent to the preserve. Woodland Dunes regularly provides programs and opportunities for hands-on management of invasive species and assists neighboring landowners with invasive species issues. The link from Woodland Dunes takes visitors to the Invasive Plants Association of Wisconsin website. The City and Woodland Dunes also work in partnership with the Lakeshore Invasive Species Management Area to assist landowners in management of 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.

Two Rivers has three stops on the Lake Michigan segment of the Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail:  Woodland Dunes, Point Beach State Forest, and Two Rivers Harbor and Neshotah Park.  The City is working to improve access to the south pier area at Two Rivers Harbor in 2018, a popular birwatching destination.  Woodland Dunes has also been designated an Important Bird Area by  the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative.

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

In 2020 work continued on an 80 acre wetland restoration, which included restoration of site hydrology and planting of native grassland species and more than 5,000 native trees and shrubs to create nesting and migratory stopover habitat for birds.  Along Lake Michigan, native grassland and shrubs were planted to create bird habitat at the Spirit of the Rivers monument wayside, and a restoration plan was developed for a 15 acre wooded site along the Lake Michigan shore, all within the City of Two Rivers and done in partnership with Woodland Dunes Nature Center. 

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

In the last year, more than 80 acres of bird habitat were restored, see above.

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.

Through the Restore the Shore project, property owners can receive technical assistance as well as help in the removal of invasive species and planting of native plant materials at no charge for restoration of habitat through Woodland Dunes Nature Center.

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

The City of Two Rivers and Woodland Dunes Nature Center continue their strong partnership, and recognize that the Lakeshore area near the City is a vital migratory stopover area for birds. As such, the City continues to support Woodland Dunes' Restore the Shore Project to restore and improve the quality of habitat, especially that within a mile of the Lake Michigan shoreline including invasive species management. In 2020 work continued along the Lake Michigan shoreline along Mariner's Trail.

Woodland Dunes also works with not only the City but private landowners, giving information and advice, and assistance in managing invasive, non-native plants, sometimes in conjunction with the Lakeshore Invasive Species Management Area.

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

Woodland Dunes has erected a chimney swift tower at its headquarters and offers information about swift conservation.  Woodland Dunes has chimney swifts nesting on site, and records data regarding their activity during the nesting season.  Woodland Dunes also conducts a Swift Night Out event, highlighting chimneys in Two Rivers which serve as migratory roost sites.  Woodland Dunes works with the City to emphasize the importance of preserving roost chimneys.

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.

Woodland Dunes conducts education programs about purple martins and their conservation.  In 2021 a program is planned in conjunction with the Purple Martin Association.

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.).

Woodland Dunes works with student groups from UW-Manitowoc, Roncalli, Manitowoc Lincoln, Two Rivers, Mishicot, and Denmark High Schools on habitat restoration projects within its preserves and along the shore of Lake Michigan.  Woodland Dunes sponsors units of both Scouting USA and Girl Scouts who participate in bird conservation activities.  In person group activities have been restricted in the last year due to Covid-19, however.

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.)

Woodland Dunes has established and maintains seven miles of trails equipped with educational signage about birds and other natural features.  All trails are open daily from dawn until dusk and are free of charge.

Community Forest Management

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

Two Rivers continues to be recognized as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation following its initial award in 1991.

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.

Included as part of the Restore the Shore project (see High Flyer 1C). Woodland Dunes continues to promote the planting of native hardwood trees and shrubs in home landscapes.  At a recent wayside acquisition at the mouth of Forget-Me-Not Creek, the City planted approx. 50 native trees and Woodland Dunes planted 100 native shrubs to enhance migratory stopover habitat along Lake Michigan.  Additional land was planted in native grassland and pollinator-friendly forb species.  An 80 acre wetland restoration was also begun in 2019 in Woodland Dunes and within the City of Two Rivers to restore a mosaic of several wetland types for shorebirds and passerines.  In 2020 native grasses and forbs, trees, and shrubs were planted on the site (5,500 native trees and shrubs).  In another part of the preserve, 2,500 native trees and shrubs were planted by staff and volunteers.

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 refers the public to Woodland Dunes Nature Center for information on free-roaming cats and window strikes via web links.  It is not legal for cats to free-roam outdoors in the City of Two Rivers.

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 refers the public to Woodland Dunes Nature Center for information on free-roaming cats and window strikes via web links.  Woodland Dunes has incorporated bird-safe glass in it's new building addition, and has developed other bird-safe measures for educational purposes on other windows.  A display in the nature center educates about window strikes and what can be done to prevent them.

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.

Two Rivers municipal ordinance prohibits both dogs and cats from running at large.

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. 

Woodland Dunes provides environmental education programs in which about 3,000 school children typically participate each year.  Many of these programs have avian education components, including curricula about bird migration and owls in particular.  In 2020 school education programs were greatly restricted due to Covid, so other activities, such as family take-home kits about birds were developed and distributed.  It is anticipated that regular programming will resume sometime in summer or fall of 2021.

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.

Backyard habitat enhancement is a frequent topic of adult education programming offered each year, plus information is available through the links provided on the Woodland Dunes birding page. The Restore the Shore Project also is a conduit for information about bird habitat enhancement through signage and other public engagement.

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).

Two Rivers lies within a Christmas Bird Count circle, and areas within (including Woodland Dunes) and around Two Rivers are counted. Woodland Dunes also encourages participation in the Christmas Bird Counts for Manitowoc County, and in the Great Backyard Bird Count. Woodland Dunes also coordinates migration season point counts in Two Rivers through the Two Rivers Stopover Project, monitors birds year round in the preserve, and conducts annual breeding season surveys.  

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

The annual Bird Breakfast and Migration Celebration was founded in 1947 and has been held continuously at several different locations, but Woodland Dunes has hosted since the late 1970's.  The day features guided bird walks at different area locations, talks, children's activities, and bird banding demonstrations.  More than 100 people typically attend, but Covid caused the cancellation of the event in 2020.  In 2021, a modified event with a drive-through breakfast and distributed information on birding activities will be held, and by 2022 the typical event is anticipated to be restored again.  Covid also caused the cancellation of the WSO convention in Two Rivers in 2020, but that has been rescheduled for 2022.  Woodland Dunes will celebrate Owl Week in late summer 2021 as it did in 2020, with Covid- safe family activities and programs about Wisconsin Owls.

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

Woodland Dunes provides a number of programs to children, both through its environmental education curriculum for schools, and for drop-in family visitors. Due to Covid school programs were largely curtailed, although family programs for small groups were still conducted.  Nature's Own Gardeners did visit for an outdoor program about our wildlife garden and native landscaping during the summer.

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).

The City and Woodland Dunes recognize that the shore of Lake Michigan is a significant migratory corridor for butterflies and other pollinators, and encourage volunteers who maintain gardens along the lakeshore Mariners Trail to include native plants which benefit them.  Woodland Dunes has enhanced and is maintaining more than 200 acres of pollinator habitat within it's 1,500 acre preserves for the benefit of both native insects and grassland bird species. 

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.

The Woodland Dunes Nature Center does a number of things to raise awareness of the avifauna of Two Rivers. One of the most significant actions is the Osprey nest cam that they have on a nest platform at their headquarters. This has generated a lot of interest including visits from Green Bay television and local radio and newspaper stories. The City of Two Rivers also has a harbor cam, which can be controlled to pan the harbor area and can be used to look at gulls and waterfowl, a tool that is very helpful in planning birding trips to the harbor. Woodland Dunes also provides additional information online on its website.   Two Rivers and Manitowoc (Woodland Dunes) have been featured in a number of media publications including features in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine, local television news features, Wisconsin Public Television, and Discover Wisconsin, and the visitor guide for the Manitowoc Area Visitor and Convention Bureau- all highlighting the diversity of birds found in the area.  Woodland Dunes also provides a weekly column to the Manitowoc Herald Times- Reporter about wildlife- often the articles are bird related, and four times per year staff are guests on local radio (WOMT) to answer questions about local wildlife inculding birds.

N. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.

Woodland Dunes also provides a weekly newspaper column which frequently has birds as the topic, and staff are featured seasonally on local radio, much of the time answering bird-related questions from listeners.

Energy & Sustainability

F. Demonstrate that your community participates in a community solar program or that a municipal building receives a significant percentage of its electricity from renewable energy.

The Lester Public Library has a significant solar array.  Click here for more information about that system.

Two Rivers Water and Light, a municipal electric utility, also helped Woodland Dunes obtain its solar array which offsets about 1/3 of the center's electric demand.

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.

In 2019, Two Rivers held its annual Bird Breakfast at Woodland Dunes Nature Center in May, one of the oldest birding events in Wisconsin. COVID-19 caused the cancellation of that event in 2020, but it is being brought back in a safe form in 2021.  During this event, World Migratory Bird Day is recognized and information about migratory birds is presented. This year it will be a drive-through event, with participants receiving information about birds and World Migratory Bird Day with their meal.

Joined Bird City: 2013

Population: 11,712

Incorporated: 1878

Area: 6.49 mi2

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