Making our communities healthy for birds... and people

Bird City Grant Helps Restore Bird Habitat on Barker-Stewart Island

Barker-Stewart Island, Wausau Bird Club, Bird City Wisconsin

In 2020, Bird City Wisconsin awarded small grants to six deserving Bird City communities: Bayfield, Fond du Lac, Madison, Ozaukee County, Sheboygan, and Wausau. Here’s what Wausau, a High Flyer, accomplished with its award.

Susan Haug, the bird club's treasurer, reports that the Wausau Bird Club had received the blessing of the Wausau/Marathon County Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department in 2019 to undertake a long-term restoration of bird habitat on Barker-Stewart Island, the wooded 15-acre island located in the Wisconsin River in the center of Wausau.

In April of that year, volunteers from the bird club removed invasive species and installed two bur oak and three red maple trees, as well as five nannyberry viburnum and five gray dogwood shrubs on the island. "The hard part of the project was keeping the plantings watered," Susan says, "as the Wisconsin River was drawn down last summer for dam maintenance. It was hard to draw buckets of water."

In May 2020, the club assembled a masked volunteer work crew and planted even more native plants: five Valley Forge elm trees and 10 American hazelnut shrubs.

"Many members of the Wausau Bird Club volunteered weekly throughout the summer and fall to take turns to water the plantings," Susan reports. The dedicated crew either carried buckets filled from the Wisconsin River or used a pump to fill the buckets with river water.

Using grant money awarded by Bird City Wisconsin, along with member dues and money raised by the bird club’s successful Great Wisconsin Birdathon team, the bird club plans to purchase additional native materials for planting in the spring of 2021.

In addition, Susan says, the grant money enabled the club to begin the process of creating an educational sign that explains the importance of using native species, showcases the benefit of native plants to birds, and explains that planting natives is something everyone can do in their own yard. The sign will be erected on Barker-Stewart Island in spring 2021.

Bird City Wisconsin’s small 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.

Bird City will award similar grants again in 2021, and applications for them are being accepted now. The deadline for applying is March 31, 2021.


Read more:

Bird City Kicks Off Second Year of Small Grants

Bird City Grant Helps Install Nest Boxes in Ozaukee County

Bird City Grant Helps Restore Prairie along Starkweather Creek in Madison

Bird City Awards Grants to Six Communities

Read about the City of Wausau, a High Flyer.


A Big Year Birding Record in Rome, a Bird City

Immature Northern Goshawk

In 2016, the Town of Rome in Adams County became the 96th community in the state to be officially recognized as a Bird City. Since 2016, Rome has annually submitted applications and been approved for renewed recognition under Sustained Flight status.

Once the bed of a glacial lake, Rome’s landscape consists of spectacular sand barrens and rolling pines. Home to the endangered Kirtland's Warbler, Whooping Crane, Clay-colored Sparrow, and Karner blue butterfly, Rome is a prime destination for nature enthusiasts and birders.

Richard Wagner, an avid birder and a resident of Adams County, spent much of the 2020 season birding in Rome and surrounding area. Birding was ideal during the pandemic due to the socially distanced nature of the activity.

Wagner shares: “I birded Adams quite a bit last year after moving back from Asia and the emphasis on the local during this pandemic. About four months into 2020, I saw in eBird that a well-known name in Wisconsin birding, the Rev. Samuel Robbins, Jr., author of Wisconsin Birdlife: Population and Distribution Past and Present, had a 219 year in 1955, so for kicks I set out to try to beat it, as I had a decent foundation for a Big Year from the first four months.” (A “219 year" refers to documenting 219 different species of birds throughout the calendar year.)

Wagner set the ambitious goal of beating Robbins’s historic 1955 record for Adams County. Logging each bird viewed and the locations, Wagner documented his bird sightings, many of them in Rome Township.

“I got to 220 just as the sun was setting on Dec. 31 (an immature Northern Goshawk on Akron Drive)," Wagner says, "sort of strange how that stuff happens.”

Although many scheduled Rome birding events were canceled due to COVID-19, the Sand Valley Restoration Trust was able to hold its third annual Christmas Bird Count on Dec. 16. Thirteen surveyors counted a total of 1,258 birds of 34 different species.


Read more:

See Richard Wagner’s Adams County Big Year list (PDF).

Read about the Town of Rome.


Photo: Immature Northern Goshawk, Catalonia, Spain (Wikimedia Commons).


There's Just One Month Left to Renew for 2021!

January 31 Bird City Wisconsin Renewal Deadline

Season’s greetings from Bird City Wisconsin! As you ring in the New Year, keep in mind that 2021 renewals are due by Jan. 31.

The entire renewal process can be completed electronically, on the Bird City Wisconsin website. Just log in and then click on “APPLY/RENEW” for detailed instructions and to get started. The renewal fee is $125.

Unlike in previous years, we will not penalize communities that were unable to celebrate World Migratory Bird Day in 2020. We recognize that public health restrictions may have kept you from holding outdoor events or other gatherings this year. In your application, please describe events that you had planned but were unable to do; tell us about events that you held virtually (please include links); and, most important, tell us what you’re planning for World Migratory Bird Day in 2021.

Remember, renewing is how your community can be recognized publicly for the steps it has taken to be friendly to birds and healthy for people. It’s also a great way to let the world know that your hometown is a desirable place to work, live, take a vacation, and do some bird watching, and it signals that you want to be counted in Bird City’s statewide network of conservation advocates.


Read more:

Go to the apply and renew page.

View our recognition criteria.

See a list of all Bird Cities.


Support Bird City Wisconsin!

Bird City Wisconsin

Bird City Wisconsin may be a small organization, but it has an out-sized impact. Every year, our communities take more than 1,200 conservation and education actions that make Wisconsin a better place to live -- for us and for birds.

We rely on application and annual renewal fees and much-appreciated occasional grants to cover the salary of our part-time director, the purchase of the street signs, flags, and plaques that we award to our recognized communities, the costs of our website, and postage and other administrative costs, not to mention the expenses of our successful small-grants program.

Donate to Bird City Wisconsin

We want to expand our impact around the state, but we need your help to do so. Please donate. Your support will help us recognize more Wisconsin communities, educate more residents, protect more habitat, and remove more threats to birds.

Donating is easy. Simply use a credit card on our donate page or mail a check written to “Bird City Wisconsin” to us at 4230 N. Oakland Ave., No. 219, Shorewood, WI 53211. (Our address is also at the bottom of every page of this website.)

Bird City Wisconsin is a program of the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization organized and existing under the laws of Wisconsin (, tax ID 82-2924873).


Read more:

The mission and rationale of Bird City Wisconsin


Bird City Kicks Off Second Year of Small Grants

Bird City Wisconsin Small Grants

Great news! Bird City Wisconsin will again award small grants to Bird City communities in 2021.

In 2020, the first year of our grant program, we awarded grants to projects to six Bird City communities: Bayfield, Fond du Lac, Madison, Ozaukee County, Sheboygan, and Wausau.

The 2021 program aims to capitalize on the momentum gained in 2020 by once again providing a helping hand to Bird City communities that need a modest funding boost to launch or complete a project that benefits birds. Grants will be awarded in three categories:

  • Creating and protecting bird habitat
  • Educating residents about interactions between birds and people
  • Protecting birds by reducing such threats as window collisions and outdoor cats

We’ll award grants totaling $500 in each of these three categories. More than one grant may be awarded in each category, and if multiple grants are awarded, the total amount awarded in that category will be $500. The grants are intended to support work that will be performed in 2021. Grants will be awarded only to Bird City communities that have completed their renewal for 2021.

How to apply: Submit a Word document no more than two pages or 500 words long containing the following:

  • Title and category: Provide the title of your project and its category (Habitat Creation and Protection, Education, or Bird Protection).
  • Description: Tell us how the project will create and protect habitat, educate your residents, or protect birds, and estimate its total cost.
  • Expected impact: For a habitat project, tell us the size of the habit to be created or protected, its type and location, its ecological significance, and the birds and other wildlife that will benefit. For an education project, describe your target audience and the number of people you expect to educate. For a bird-protection project, tell us the nature of the threat, its scope, and the birds at risk.
  • Project timeframe: Give the dates in 2021 on which your project will begin and end.
  • Leaders: Provide names, titles, and contact information for your project’s leader or leaders.
  • Funding: Finally, list other sources of funding, if any.

Apply by email: Submit your application as an attachment to an email to . Please use the following subject line: “Grant Application: [Insert Bird City Community name]”

Application deadline: Tuesday, March 31, 2021. Applications received after that date will not be considered.

Members of the Bird City board of directors will evaluate applications and award 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. We’ll announce the winners in May 2021.

Report: Grantees agree to submit, no later than Nov. 1, 2021, a Word document no more than two pages or 500 words long describing the completed project and comparing actual results to what was described in the application, along with three publishable photos taken during the project.

Questions? Write to . We look forward to hearing from you.


Read more:

Bird City Grant Helps Install Nest Boxes in Ozaukee County

Bird City Grant Helps Restore Prairie along Starkweather Creek in Madison

Bird City Grant Enhances Access to Big Ravine Preserve in Bayfield

Bird City Awards Grants to Six Communities