Making our communities healthy for birds... and people

City of Wisconsin Rapids

City of Wisconsin Rapids


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 Wisconsin Rapids Smart Growth Plan was adopted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011 and remains in effect.

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

The Wisconsin Rapids Council adopted the International Property Maintenance Code of 2009 on June 15, 2010.

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.

Booklets on control of garlic mustard, buckthorn, reed canary grass, and others can currently be found in the brochure racks at the Land Conservation office located on the second floor of the Wood County Courthouse in Wisconsin Rapids. The location of these booklets also mentioned on the city web site. 

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.

In Wood County we have four designated State Wildlife and Natural areas. They include: Paul Olson, Sandhill, Wood County and Powers Bluff Maple Woods State Natural Area. pp 64-66.Go to:        

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

As part of Wisconsin Rapids City Beautification, a rain garden located by City Hall is being restored. There is a continuing effort to clear it of cleared of invasive species. Bird-friendly plants have been added, including coneflowers, Coreposis, etc.  

As part of Lincoln High School Woodlot project, a prairie of over one (1) acre was planted. Small grants were written in cooperation with the Wisconsin Rapids Public School District to support the purchase of tools for land-clearing/site preparation and praririe seeds. Students also went to local established prairies to collect seeds for planting in the late fall.

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.).

Grant and Washington Elementary schools and Lincoln High School have Bluebird Trail that makes use of nest boxes donated to them by the Aldo Leopold Audubon Society. Dr. Kent Hall has been very generous in donating his time and expertise to establish these projects. Boxes have been placed strategically to attract cavity-nesting species. The primary occupants have been Tree Swallows and Eastern Bluebirds.

For the third year Bird City WR participated in Kiwanis Youth Outdoors Day. At this event we have a booth with bird-related activities for youth including: Master Bird Banders with mist-nets, education about bird beaks from Flying Wild curriculum, arts and crafts, educational materials (e.g. Great Wisconsin Birding & Nature Trail booklets and birds lists from Buena Vista and Mead Wildlife Areas).

Community Forest Management

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

Wisconsin Rapids has been a participant in the Arbor Day Foundation’s “Tree City, USA” program since 1988.  It is currently administered by the city of Wisconsin Rapids Department of Parks and Recreation.

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.

Wisconsin Rapids’ City Beautification Program and the Parks Department are both making efforts to plant native trees throughout the community. Students from Lincoln and Assumption High Schools are also involved in planting a small number of native trees which included oak, catalpa, crab apple, maple, and others. This project is an annual event.

E. Show that your forester, a member of your tree board, or another person currently responsible for managing your community’s trees has completed the Wisconsin DNR’s Wisconsin Tree Management Institute.

The City of Wisconsin Rapids has a new employee on their staff who has completed the Wisconsin DNR's Wisconsin Community Tree Management Institute. His name is Joseph Terry, Public Works Director. In 2017 he took an advanced course in this program. 

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.

500 brochures titled “Cats, Birds and You” were purchased from the American Bird Conservancy and paid for by the League of Women Voters Wisconsin Rapids Area as part of their advocacy on behalf of the environment encouraging sustainable practices and towards earning a Bird City Wisconsin designation for Wisconsin Rapids. 

Incourage, a Wisconsin Rapids local community foundation, also provided copies of this brochure at several local festivals. The Wood County Humane Society, located in Wisconsin Rapids, includes this brochure with their pet adoption kit whenever cats go to their adoptive homes. Finally, three local veterinarian offices were provided with copies of this brochure for their clients.

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

Bird City Wisconsin Rapids contacted local vendors of bird seed and other supplies. ACE Hardware sells window strike strips and distributes information to patrons purchasing bird seed. The handout is called “You Can Save Birds from Flying into Windows” from the American Bird Conservancy. Other businesses that distribute bird strike prevention information include: Quality Feed and Seed, Family Natural Foods, and South Wood County Humane Society.

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.

Wisconsin Rapids Ordinance (MC#505) outlaws free roaming cats, noting that they must be on a leash when off of their owner’s property and under control when on it. If there are complaints to the city, a cat will be captured and surrendered to the South Wood County Humane Society. 

Public Education

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).

Bird City Wisconsin Rapids participated in both the Swift Night Out and the Christmas Bird Count in 2017.

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

In 2017 Bird City WR helped to organize the Wisconsin Prairie Chicken Festival in cooperation with local conservation agencies and organizations. Activities included: Greater Prairie-chicken viewing, grassland bird tours, locally-sourced luncheon, presentations on bluebirds, prairies, rotational grazing, and the history of Drs. Fred and Fran Hamerstrom. See Attachments

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

The Master Gardeners organization annually sells homemade suet, bird houses, and water sources at the Garden Walk each year and sponsors speakers that address birds and gardening. At the Vesper Library a youth garden art gallery was designed and constructed adjacent to the building with youngsters planting flowers and building bird feeders. 

Mead Wildlife Area sponsors birding events including sessions titled Birding Basics and Discovering Owls in Wisconsin.

Sandhill Wildlife Area Friends organization puts on an open house in April of each year. Brochures are available on keeping cats indoors and preventing bird window strikes. The Children’s activities features birds and birding. Permanent displays in the Outdoors Skills Center also features local birds. 

Grant School has a Green Team classroom that has created a pollunator garden, does bluebird monitoring, developed a prairie and has students engage in butterfly identification. Washington Elementary School and Lincoln High School also have active bluebird monitoring programs.

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.

Washington School maintains web cams on two of the nest boxes on their Bluebird Trail and makes the feeds available online. The goal is to provide both the student body and general public the opportunity to view online a natural history experience involving nesting behavior for both Tree Swallows and Eastern Bluebirds.

N. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.

Bird City Wisconsin Rapids assists annually with the distribution of publicity materials for Raptor Education Group, Inc. (REGI) to collect deer hearts from hunters to feed to rehabilitating raptors.

Bird City Wisconsin Rapids also participated in the South Wood County Historical Museum’s Annual Christmas Tree Walk. We sponsored a Christmas tree decorated in a bird theme. Our Bird City logo was prominently displayed and raised awareness of Bird City program in Wisconsin Rapids. This display was educational and a great publicity move.

Energy & Sustainability

D. Document that your community has been recognized as a Green Tier Legacy Community.

Wisconsin Rapids is one of 22 communities that participate in the Green Tier Legacy Community program. See 

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.

McMillan Library, Wisconsin Rapids installed solar panels in September of 2017. Thirty percent (30%) of the energy produced is being returned directly to the city. Go to

I. Document that your community is part of the Energy Independent Community program.

The City of Wisconsin Rapids is listed among 140 communities part of the Energy Independent Community program. See 

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.

Each year Bird City Wisconsin Rapids participates in two events to celebrate IMBD. The first event, Kiwanis Youth Outdoor Day, is held the first Saturday in June every year. At this event we have several booths. One features children’s crafts: making pinecone bird feeders, coloring bird pictures and having them laminated into wearable buttons, coloring bird masks and more. We feature a display from the Wisconsin DNR on grassland birds and distribute brochures featuring local birding nature trails and wildlife areas. Our most popular activity has been mist netting and banding of birds that children observe and participate in.

The second event is the Grand Affair held on the second Sunday of September every year in the downtown area of Wisconsin Rapids. The Grand Affair is a fall festival that includes food booths, craft and clothing vendors, a vintage car show and local service booths. Our booth has children’s bird related crafts, brochures on birding hotspots, and a Monarch butterfly display that allows them to learn about migration and the various stages of their development. Pictures of these events are included with this application.   

Joined Bird City: 2013

Population: 18,367

Incorporated: 1869

Area: 14.67 mi2

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