Making our communities healthy for birds... and people

Bird Cities Can Compete for EAB Funding

Emerald Ash Borer

Since one of the six categories for recognition as a Bird City is Community Forest Management, check this out:

The WDNR received $175,000 in Forest Health and Resilience funding from the U.S. Forest Service to assist communities in response to the catastrophic loss of urban tree canopy due to the emerald ash borer (EAB). The $175,000 will be administered through the competitive State Urban Forestry Grants program and subawarded to cities, villages, towns, counties, tribes, and 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations.

Projects funded with the Forest Health and Resilience funds will focus on EAB response on public lands, including the removal and replacement of ash trees. EAB treatment will not be funded with these dollars.

These projects will further the Forest Service’s national priorities to "protect forests from threats" and "enhance public benefits from trees and forests." They aim to help make Wisconsin communities safer, healthier, and happier places to live, work, and play. That aligns with the goals of Bird City Wisconsin.

 

Read more:

See all Bird City recognition criteria requirements.

2021 DNR Urban Forestry grant application are opening soon (June 12, 2020).

$175,000 Additional Urban Forestry Grant Funding Available for EAB: Ash Tree Removals and Replacements

Read more about State Urban Forestry grants.

Photo: Adult emerald ash borer by David Cappaert, courtesy of National Invasive Species Information Center, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

 

Bird City Awards Grants to Six Communities

Bird City Wisconsin Small Grants

Bird City Wisconsin announced on May 27, 2020, that it will award small grants to six Bird City communities: Bayfield, Fond du Lac, Madison, Ozaukee County, Sheboygan, and Wausau.

The grants are intended to kickstart local projects that help Bird City communities create and protect bird habitat, educate residents about the many positive interactions between birds and people, and reduce threats to birds. 

This is the first year that Bird City Wisconsin, a program of the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory in Port Washington, has awarded small grants. The grants are available to Bird City communities only.

“The goal of the small-grants program is to provide a helping hand to Bird City communities that are just a modest funding boost away from accomplishing something really great for birds,” said Bird City Wisconsin director Chuck Hagner. “We’re delighted to support these high-impact local initiatives with our inaugural grants and look forward to making additional grants in the years to come.”

Members of the Bird City board of directors evaluated applications and awarded the grants based on the urgency of the project, its potential impact, a community’s ability to complete it, the need for funding, and the number of applications received. The board members awarded a total of $1,890 in grants to the following Bird City communities:

  • To Bayfield, recognized as Bird City since 2012: $500 to produce and install an interpretive sign near a new native-plant garden at the Gil Larsen Trailhead, gateway to Bayfield’s Big Ravine Preserve.
  • To Fond du Lac, a Bird City since 2012 and a High Flyer: $100 to help plant swamp white oaks and understory shrubs in Lakeside Park, on the shore of Lake Winnebago.
  • To Madison, a Bird City since 2013 and a High Flyer: $190 for a fall seed mix to assist in the creation of a wet-mesic native prairie on the Starkweather Creek watershed in the city.
  • To Ozaukee County, recognized as Bird City since 2010 and a High Flyer: $500 to help purchase and install nest boxes for Eastern Bluebirds and Tree Swallows in restored prairie at Tendick Nature County Park and Virmond County Park.
  • To Sheboygan, a Bird City since 2013: $100 to support the removal of invasive species and the creation of bioswales, rain gardens, and educational signage in the bluff community in North Point Park.
  • And to Wausau, a Bird City since 2012 and a High Flyer: $500 to restore native plantings and erect educational signage on Barker-Stewart Island, located in the Wisconsin River in downtown Wausau.

Bird City Wisconsin is supported by the Bird Protection Fund of the Natural Resources Foundation of the Wisconsin and other generous conservation-minded donors.

The program was created in 2009 and began recognizing communities the following year. It recognizes municipalities for the conservation and education activities that they undertake to make their communities healthy for birds... and people.

To be recognized, a community must meet criteria spread across six categories: habitat creation and protection, community forest management, limiting threats to birds, education, energy and sustainability, and the official recognition and celebration of World Migratory Bird Day. Communities that go above and beyond in their conservation and education programs achieve High Flyer status.

To date, 108 communities have been recognized as Bird Cities, while 25 communities have qualified for High Flyer status.

 

Read more:

Grants now available for Bird City communities.

View or download past issues of our monthly newsletter.

 

How to Do World Migratory Bird Day While Safer at Home

World Migratory Bird Day

Bird City communities never fail to go above and beyond in their conservation and education actions, and we especially appreciate these efforts this year, when health concerns and Safer-at-Home restrictions have upended so many plans for celebrating World Migratory Bird Day.

The responses to the quarantine so far have been inspiring:

Some communities have moved their celebrations later in the year; others are holding virtual events; still more are downsizing and shifting from community gatherings to backyard or family events. The Oshkosh Bird Fest, a first-weekend-in-May celebration that has included a Big Sit-style event, offers an excellent example. This year, it downsized and spread out -- and the participants still had fun.

Our partners at Environment for the Americas, the home of World Migratory Bird Day, have come up with many creative ways you can practice social distancing while celebrating.

1. Delay your event. It’s true, the traditional date to mark World Migratory Bird Day at this latitude is the second Saturday in May, but events are held almost every month of the year. Birds don’t all travel on the same day, so why not hold your event later in the year?

2. Highlight your activity over time. If you had planned activities for a single day, spread them out over days and weeks instead and engage individuals or small groups, rather than crowds of people.

3. Host a virtual festival. The sky’s the limit here: You could share information about backyard birdwatching or create a book club and hold online reading sessions for children with stories where the main characters are birds. Perhaps you could create a video for social media highlighting the importance of protecting migratory birds or also host online craft lessons (such as origami or painting) that teach about birds. Another good idea might be reaching out to a local bird expert and hosting a virtual conference.

Need more ideas? Turn to the Bird Day LIVE page on Environment for the Americas website.

Please let us know what you decide and be sure to share the dates and times of any virtual festivals; we’ll help publicize them! And please understand: No Bird City community will be penalized for failing to hold a World Migratory Bird Day event in 2020.

As we wrote in our last newsletter, you should follow local regulations and the guidance of the CDC and other health officials regarding group events, even if doing so means cancelling your spring celebration. Your priority, and ours, must be maintaining the health of your staff, volunteers, and attendees -- but we sure hope you’ll think twice before cancelling your World Migratory Bird Day plans outright, because you may not need to.

Read more:

Go to Bird Day LIVE.

Learn about World Migratory Bird Day.

Download this year's WMBD poster and other resources.

Read about "Safer at Home" (Wisconsin Dept. of Health Services).

 

Deadline Extended: More Time to Field a Team in 2020 Birdathon

Great Wisconsin Birdathon

Has your Bird City entered a team in this year’s Great Wisconsin Birdathon yet? It’s not too late to do so.

Conducted annually by the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin, the event is the state’s largest fundraiser for bird conservation and research. It’s also a perfect way for Bird Cities to engage their residents in birding, conservation, and education -- and to raise funds for local conservation projects.

The month of May is traditionally the time when Great Wisconsin Birdathon teams (and spring migrants, of course) spread out across Wisconsin. This year's birdathon, like many things, is turning out to be anything but traditional. The event is being extended to run from April 15 through October 15.

Although no one can predict what the Covid-19 situation will look like later in the year, an extended birdathon provides teams with the flexibility to stick to the original spring migration timeframe or postpone their day until the summer or fall.

Birdathon participants are being encouraged to follow health guidelines, stay safe, and explore creative alternatives to their traditional big days -- including backyard birding, signing up as solo teams, or having teammates bird in different locations.

Sarah Cameron, coordinator of the birdathon, reports that she and her colleagues at the Natural Resources Foundation have brainstormed three ways that teams can participate safely:

1. Hold a “Big Sit.” Think of it as the tailgate of birding: Set up lawn chairs at least six feet apart, have each team member take a seat, and observe the birds that come your way.

2. Turn your birdathon into a relay. You and your team members don’t need to bird in the same location; you can bird solo. Then you compile your results after your big day.

3. Bird in your backyard. Consider the birdathon an opportunity to get to know your backyard birds! Birding in your yard eliminates the need to travel or bird in groups. Sightings can be compiled at day’s end. To join, visit the event's organizations page, or simply Google "Great Wisconsin Birdathon" and then click on the "Fundraise For Your Own Cause" tab.

Read more:

Great Wisconsin Birdathon 2020

Bird Cities and the 2020 Great Wisconsin Birdathon, a Perfect Pairing

2019 Birdathon Raises Over $85,000 for Bird Conservation

Birdathon Helps Push Bird Protection Fund past $1 million Mark

 

Ideas for World Migratory Bird Day and Social Distancing

World Migratory Bird Day 2020

At a time when the Covid-19 pandemic is upending each of our best-laid plans one after the other, the question is understandable: Will Bird City communities be penalized for failing to hold a World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) event this year?

The answer is no. Every Bird City should follow local regulations and the guidance of the CDC and other health officials regarding group events, even if doing so means cancelling your spring celebration. Your priority, and ours, must be maintaining the health of your staff, volunteers, and attendees -- but we sure hope you’ll think twice before cancelling your WMBD plans outright, because you may not need to.

Our friends at Environment for the Americas, the home of WMBD, have come up with three creative ways you can practice social distancing while celebrating.

1. Delay your event. It’s true, the traditional date to mark WMBD is the second Saturday in May, but did you know that WMBD is celebrated almost every month of the year? Birds don’t all travel on the same day. Hold your event when they’re present later in the year.

2. Highlight your site for WMBD over a period of time. If you’ve planned various activities to take place on a single day, spread them out over days and weeks instead, and engage individuals or small groups, rather than crowds of people.

3. Host a virtual festival. Environment for the Americas promises to provide a suite of WMBD-related videos, guest speakers, quizzes, and other online activities. Invite your communities to join in, or use the materials to host your own virtual event via the Internet, social media, or webinar. You can find more info on the WMBD website.

Please let us know what you decide, and be sure to share the dates and times of any virtual festivals; we’ll help publicize them!

Read more:

Learn about World Migratory Bird Day.

Download this year's WMBD poster and other resources.

Read about "Safer at Home" (Wisconsin Dept. of Health Services).