Making our communities healthy for birds... and people

City of Whitewater

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 Whitewater adopted a comprehensive plan in 2010 that incorporates principles from Wisconsin’s “Smart Growth” law regarding land use planning and natural resource management and has been in compliance with that plan since. Specifically, Chapter 7 of the plan addresses working environmental corridors, smart growth areas and opportunities for redevelopment.  This is ongoing in the city of Whitewater.

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

An ad hoc committee, the Urban Forestry Commission, which includes community members, was formed in December 2015 to create a butterfly/hummingbird garden in the Clay Street Nature Park. This community-planted-and-managed garden was installed in 2016 and is intended to provide food for hummingbirds and insects and serve as an educational native planting resource for the community.  In 2017 more native plants were planted and most non-natives were removed and even more importantly, two oak trees were planted in the park. 

In 2017 the Urban Forestry Commission began working with the city to restore Walton Oaks Park, which is an oak savannah remnant.  We invited two restoration experts to give us advice on how to proceed and began working to remove invasive plants, like buckthorn, mulberry, garlic mustard and so forth. We utilized many volunteers from both the university and the community in this effort.  This will be an ongoing project and eventually will showcase native wildflowers and plants and provide a bird friendly habitat for bird watchers as well as preserving the magnificent bur oaks some of which are estimated to be more than 300 years old.

The Urban Forestry Commission is continuing to advise the Park and Recreation Board on park plantings. Our mission is to encourage the parks to include native trees, shrubs, and perennials. We asked that Minneiska Park, which is situated adjacent to Trippe Lake and part of a wildlife corridor, be planted with this in mind.

A Chimney Swift tower was built at Cravath Lake Park. The site was chosen because Chimney Swifts were already occupying one of the chimneys in the downtown area in very close proximity to the lake, and the nearby lake provides insects for food. Also, walking/biking path passes nearby so residents can observe the tower and read the informational signage, thereby making the most of an opportunity to educate the public about a declining migratory bird.  In 2017 we continued to monitor and clean the tower as necessary.

The Urban Forestry Commission continues in an advisory position for landscape input for any new and revised development in the City of Whitewater.  This is ongoing as new projects arise.  Our concentration is on native plants to support birdlife and habitat.

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

Whitewater’s Urban Forestry Commission was charged by Whitewater’s Common Council with drafting a Natural Landscape Ordinance ensuring that homeowners had legal rights and protection to maintain a non-turf grass natural landscape. Approved landscapes include, but are not limited to: woodland, oak savanna, prairie, sustenance gardens, flower gardens, and wetlands. The ordinance also defines various invasive plants and methods to eradicate them. The ordinance was approved by the Common Council. Continuing.

H. Show that the local Chamber of Commerce or a similar group (e.g., an Audubon chapter, Wild Ones, etc.) takes an active role in the planning process for protecting and enlarging favorable bird habitat.

Whitewater’s Chamber of Commerce continued to sponsor Whitewater’s Main Street Festival in September 2017. The Urban Forestry Commission staffed a booth using this opportunity to provide information and educational materials to the public on links between a healthy urban forest and Whitewater's role as a Bird City. Handouts were available on native plantings, hazards to birds, bird life, a Snowy Owl brochure (Whitewater's Bird of the Year), bird  carvings by a local artist and photos of Whitewater birds and where they were seen, and bird games to play. Many people stopped and talked about their backyard birds and the newly erected Swift Tower.  In addition, we offered children the opportunity to deconsltruct bird nests and pose with their faces in a Snowy Owl cutout poster. We also showed a display of the birds that can be found in our ongoing restoration of Walton Oaks Park.

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

In 2017 Whitewater began the restoration of Walton Oaks Park, an oak savanna remnant.

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

In 2017, the Urban Forestry Commission organized the removal of Japanese Knotweed in our community.  Additionally, community members are working to control garlic mustard which has been spreading in the community.  We continue to work on removing and controlling invasives in our parks and preserves. In addition to citywide invasive monitoring, the UFC with the City of Whitewater and community are aggressively working to remove invasives at Walton Oaks Park. 

V. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.

The City Plan Board has asked the Urban Forestry Commission to suggest native plantings for landscaping new construction.  We have recently been asked to present a landscape plan for an addition to the local lumber company.  This is in progress and the UFC will continue to consult on native landscaping alternatives for future developments as they arise.

Seeds from native plants continue to be available at Whitewater’s Irvin L. Young Memorial Library’s Heritage Seed Catalogue.  Instructions on planting accompany each packet.  The seeds are winterized in a small refrigerator and are made available to community members free of charge.

Community Forest Management

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

Whitewater continues to be recognized as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation following its initial award in 1994.

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 Whitewater Urban Forestry Commission met with the city forester and requested that more native trees be planted in the city.  The forester responded by ordering about half native species and these were in planted in 2017.

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 Urban Forestry Committee had a table set up at the Main Street Festival, farmer's markets, and other public events with literature focusing on keeping birds safe from both window strikes and free-roaming cats. Literature is also available at the public library, the city’s municipal building and other venues in and around Whitewater. Pages devoted to Bird City Whitewater are online on the city’s UFC webpage outlining good practices for limiting the hazards to birds. The City of Whitewater also has an ordinance against free-roaming pets.

Along with continuing to making brochures about hazards to birds available to the public at the library and other city locations, the UFC purchased copies of catalogues advertising outdoor enclosures of varying designs for cats and placed them at the library and included them on display tables. Future work to limit hazards to birds will include working with Studio 84 and MakerSpace to design and create patterns for constructing “Catios,” or outdoor cat enclosures to keep bird safe from domestic cat predation. In 2017, we continued to educate the community about the dangers that cats pose to birds, and worked to get the word out. 

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

The Urban Forestry Committee had a table set up at the Main Street Festival with literature focusing on keeping birds safe from both window strikes and free-roaming cats. Literature is also available at the public library, the city’s municipal building and other venues in and around Whitewater. Pages devoted to Bird City Whitewater will be online on the city’s UFC webpage outlining good practices for limiting the hazards to birds. The City of Whitewater also has an ordinance against free-roaming pets. In 2017 the Urban Forestry Commission continued to work to make sure that property owners have access to information available to limit the harm to birds from window strikes.

Along with continuing to making brochures about hazards to birds available to the public at the library and other city locations, the UFC purchased copies of catalogues advertising outdoor enclosures of varying designs for cats and placed them at the library and included them on display tables. Future work to limit hazards to birds will include working to design and create patterns for constructing “Catios,” or outdoor cat enclosures to keep birds safe from domestic cat predation.

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.

9.08.100 - Restraint of dogs and cats.

Any person owning or having charge, custody, care or control of any dog or cat shall keep such animal exclusively upon his or her own premises, which shall include their automotive, either by personal or direct supervision, such as voice command of such person physically present, or keeping such animal upon an appropriate chain or tie not less than six feet in length, or in an enclosed yard, either walled or fenced, or in any other appropriate restraining enclosure.

(Ord. 1034 §1(part), 1094).

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. 

In 2017, the Urban Forestry Commission was very active in our schools. We presented interactive educational opportunites for kids to learn about the importance of oak trees in the ecosystem, especially with regard to habitats for birds and other wildlife.  Children learned how to tell if an acorn is viable or not, they created ornaments from the unviable acorns and another class is starting oak tree seedings with viable acorns.  Another class learned about all the birds, animals and insects that benefit from oak trees by taking part in placing these animals and birds on a large oak tree panel (in photo gallery). They were also told about the Territorial Oak in Whitewater that marked the beginning of the city when early surveyors were platting out the town.  Students from UW-W helped with these classroom projects.

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 Whitewater Urban Forestry Commission launched a Bird City webpage that includes information on many bird conservation related topics, including loss of habitat, invasive plant species, creating backyard habitat, hazards to birds and preventing them, nest boxes, and feeding birds. Supplemental links will include the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology, Wild Ones, American Bird Conservancy, Bird City, Wis., and 2 videos, one on Bird City, Wis and a presentation on Whitewater's birds by Scott Weberpal, bird enthusiast and photograper.  (For documentation, please see the picture in wi.gov/multimedia/other-multimedia/2865-birds-of-whitewater-with-scott-weberpal)

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).

The local news source, The Whitewater Banner, announced in January, the Backyard Bird Count with links to online information so that our community members could choose to participate. 

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

in 2017 the Whitewater Arts Alliance sponsored its 3rd annual Artrageous Bird Photography Contest.  The photos are on display for an extended period of time and then an event is held to judge and award prizes.  (Printout of Arts Alliance flyer in photo gallery)

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

Lincoln Elementary School's fifth grade students created a display window at the Irvin L. Young Library featuring information about the Snowy Owl and newly acquired library books on that species.  

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).

In March of 2017 a UFC member gave a presentation on the importance of native plants which support native insects, which, in turn, support native birds, at the Irvin L. Young Library in Whitewater.  The evening presentation was very well received and attended by members from our own community and also surrounding communities.  The emphasis was on letting people know that ALL birds feeds insects to their young in the nest and that without native plants to support native insects and pollinators, this food source would not exist for nestling birds.  

N. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.

There are two videos available on the City of Whitewater’s website that raise awareness. The first, "The Park Bench", is a senior citizen's informational video series on Whitewater's local tv channel. The UFC gave a 40-minute talk about Bird City. The second video, "Birds of Whitewater", is a recorded presentation given by Scott Weberpahl, bird enthusiast and photographer. Scott spoke to over 50 people at the Irvin L. Young Memorial Library in 2015, and presented a slide show of the many local birds he has photographed. He made available supportive materials including a handout detailing the birds he's captured on camera, the locations, time of year, etc. and opened the talk for questions and comments.  In 2017 Whitewater celebrated the Snowy Owl and distributed a brochure with pictures and information throughout the community.  

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.

In 2017, the City of Whitewater celebrated IMBD by holding a Migratory Bird Fair at Cravath Lake Front Community Building.  This event was scheduled to coincide with the weekly Farmers Market on the same site to encourage more people to attend.  We promoted attendance through posters and handouts and by handing out coupons at the market which matched bird related prizes at the Fair.  Also, we were given time on the Michael McLish radio program to promote both the Fair and Bird City.  We were pleased to have nearly 160 visitors.

The Fair offered an opportunity to  paint a migratory bird mural, measure oneself on the wingspan banner, a Snowy Owl Cutout that allowed children to pose as a Snowy Owl for pictures, table with wildflower plantings, Mariette Nowak giving information on Wisconsin Wild Ones and her book on backyard plantings for birds, oriole bird feeder construction,  Walton Oak Park brochures and lists of birds found there, a computer set up with a scrolling presentation of photos of migratory birds that pass through Whitewater, informational brochures, and 3 featured migratory birds, Robin, Sandhill Crane, and White Pelican.  Pictures of these birds were poster size and maps of their migratory journeys were featured.  There was a table that offered games and coloring sheets about migratory birds.  Many of the ideas for this celebration came from the wonderful Environment for the America's site, including a large puzzle made out of their poster.

For our 2018 IMBD celebration, we plan to display much of this material at the Whitewater Middle School. We will accompany the display with interactive student activities.    We hope to awaken interest in birds with these young people.  The event will be open to the public and feature an evening speaker.

Community Details

Joined Bird City: 2014

Population: 14,390

Incorporated: 1885

Area: 9.06 mi2

Community Website

Community Bird City Page

Community Map