Among all the actions a Bird City can take for birds, perhaps the most beneficial is creating and maintaining habitat featuring native plants -- that is, plants that occur naturally in the region in which they evolved.
Not only are native plants beautiful, but they generally require little maintenance once established. They need less water than non-native plants and do just fine without artificial fertilizers or synthetic chemical pesticides and herbicides. They serve up nectar for pollinators, including butterflies, moths, and native bees; they provide shelter for many mammals; and their nuts, seeds, and fruit are eaten by all forms of wildlife, including birds.
That's why we're delighted to partner with SOS Save Our Songbirds and White Pelican Farm Native Plant Nursery to provide a $500 habitat package to a Bird City in 2023. The goal of the partnership is to provide plants to help a Bird City launch or complete a project aimed at creating or restoring bird habitat. The grant is intended to support work that will be performed between June 2023 and June 2024.
If the $500 habitat package is something your Bird City might be interested in, have your Bird City representative submit an application by May 12. Applications will be considered only from Bird Cities that have completed their 2023 renewal applications. Complete rules for applying are below.
SOS Save Our Songbirds is a campaign launched in March 2023 by the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin and other major bird and nature conservation organizations, including Bird City, to raise awareness of birds’ dire situation and to spur action at home.
Learn more about SOS Save Our Songbirds .
White Pelican Farm is a nursery located in Wyocena, in Columbia County, that specializes in native woodland and prairie plants, and offers only those perennials that support wildlife.
The farm grows its plants outside, not in a greenhouse, from seed or cuttings from plants on the farm, so you can be sure they are hardy and grow well in the state. The nursery also grows its plants organically, without the use of pesticides, herbicides, or synthetic fertilizers, in a pot-in-pot system that requires no tilling. They're just what you'd want for any Bird City's habitat-creation or restoration project.
Read about White Pelican Farm Native Plant Nursery.
How to apply:
Submit a Word document no more than two pages or 500 words long containing the following information:
Title and category: Provide the title of your project and whether it is a habitat-creation or restoration project.
Description: Describe the project including:
Please also indicate which Bird City recognition criteria the project would help your Bird City satisfy.
Project timeframe: Give the dates during which the project will begin and end, as well as when the plants will be needed.
Leader(s): Provide the names, titles, and contact information for your project’s leader or leaders.
Funding: List other sources of funding, if any.
Application deadline: Friday May 12, 2023. Applications received after that date will not be considered.
Representatives from Bird City Wisconsin, SOS Save Our Songbirds, and White Pelican Farm will evaluate applications and award the grant based on the urgency of the project, its potential impact, a community’s ability to complete it, and the need for support. We will announce the winner in late May 2023.
Report: The grantee agrees to submit a report within 60 days of the completion of the project. The report will be no more than two pages or 500 words long describing the completed project and comparing the actual results to what was described in the application, along with three publishable photos taken during the project.
By Soumi Gaddameedi, Event & Donor Relations Coordinator, Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin
As you eagerly await the return of spring, Bird City supporters need to get ready for the Great Wisconsin Birdathon! Hosted by the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin, the Great Wisconsin Birdathon is our state’s largest fundraiser for bird conservation. Bird enthusiasts across Wisconsin set out to see how many species they can find while raising money to support our state’s highest-priority bird-conservation projects.
The Birdathon is like a walkathon, but instead of logging miles walked, teams log bird sightings. Everyone is welcome; no experience is necessary to participate -- all you need is a love of birds!
Nonprofit organizations, bird clubs, and Bird Cities also have the option to form a team and keep half the funds they raise for their own conservation efforts. Registration opens on March 15, and teams can participate on any day of their choosing between April 15 and June 15 -- the peak of spring migration! Register your team at WIBirdathon.org, and share your fundraising page with friends and family.
Our goal this year is to raise $100,000 to support the Bird Protection Fund, which funds bird-conservation projects including habitat creation, research, monitoring, education, and outreach. Your efforts will support projects protecting Wisconsin’s most imperiled species, such as Connecticut Warblers, Piping Plovers, and Whooping Cranes at every stage of their lifecycle. That means we can support birds here in Wisconsin and all the way to their winter habitat in Central and South America.
Read the 2022 Birdathon Report.
Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin
With birds in crisis in Wisconsin, North America, and globally, Wisconsin bird lovers will gather March 24-25, 2023, in Oshkosh to share conservation ideas, inspiration, and action to help reverse steep population declines across hundreds of bird species.
The Bringing Birds Back Conference will share the latest research on birds’ perilous situation and what’s being done internationally and here in Wisconsin by conservation groups, communities, and tribal nations to save them. A second full day will focus on what individuals can do, and many are already doing, at home and in their communities to help birds.
“Birds are in trouble everywhere, and they need our help now,” says Karen Etter Hale, chair of the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Partnership, a conference host along with Wisconsin Society for Ornithology and Bird City Wisconsin.
“We hope this conference will be the special spark that gets each of us -- wherever we may live -- to take action to help birds. Together, our collective work as individuals, communities, or organizations will Bring Birds Back.”
Among the continuing bad news for birds in 2022 were reports that one in eight birds globally is threatened with extinction; that North American birds have suffered steep population losses in virtually all habitats since 1970; and that only three nesting pairs of Connecticut Warblers were found in Wisconsin in the last two years, just one example of how both rare and once common species are plummeting.
The conference will be held at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Culver Family Welcome Center, 625 Pearl Ave. Registration is open through March 6, 2023. The fee for the two-day event is $50 and includes lunch. Register today; space is limited.
View the schedule of presenters.
Download a paper registration form.
Day 1: International bird expert, bird collision crusader, Bird City successes
March 24 keynote speaker Michael Parr is president of the American Bird Conservancy, which works across North, South, and Central America conserving birds. Parr co-authored the landmark 2019 study that found three billion birds have vanished from North America since 1970, and the 2022 State of the Birds report assessing U.S. bird populations. He’ll discuss report findings and international efforts to conserve birds.
“We’re excited about the amazing speakers we have both for national issues and for what we can do in Wisconsin,” says Jennifer Lazewski, executive director of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology. “Birds live in many different habitats and have different needs. It’s important to have that big picture in mind even as you’re observing and learning about the birds in your neighborhood, or where you can drive to.”
Other March 24 presentations share regional and community conservation efforts in Wisconsin, such as the statewide Important Bird Areas Program to identify and prioritize key bird habitat areas, the Southern Driftless Grasslands Project, Milwaukee County’s Natural Areas, and bird conservation efforts by the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory.
Highlights of the afternoon session include conservation success stories from Bird City leaders from Lake Geneva, Wausau, Mequon, and Ozaukee County.
"The upcoming conference provides a golden opportunity for Bird City representatives from across the state to come together and hear about successful conservation efforts in other Bird Cities and how those efforts could be re-created back at home,” says Bird City Director Chuck Hagner.
Troy Peters, Engagement Manager for Audubon Great Lakes, will give a talk entitled “Bringing Previously Excluded Communities into the Fold of Bird Conservation,” including in Milwaukee.
A tour of campus sites that were the part of UW-Oshkosh research to determine and address windows posing a collision threat to birds will round out the day’s programming.
Day 2: Oneida Nation restoration work, how bird lovers can help birds at home
Day 2, March 25, opens with a presentation on a collaborative effort to monitor birds responding to environmental restoration of Oneida Nation lands. Presenters will be Tony Kuchma, Oneida wetlands project manager, Language and Cultural Educator Tehahukótha (Randy) Cornelius, and Erin Giese, president of the Northeastern Wisconsin Audubon Society and acting director of UW-Green Bay Cofrin Center for Biodiversity, both partners in the monitoring project.
The conference then shifts gears to zero in on actions people can take at home, with sessions on landscaping with native plants to provide birds and pollinators food and shelter, and solutions for addressing windows that can be deadly for birds. Typically only one or a few windows at home cause problems, but up to one billion birds are estimated to die every year in the U.S. after flying into windows, nearly half of them home windows, research shows.
Bryan Lenz, Bird Collisions Campaign Manager for American Bird Conservancy and a former Bird City Wisconsin director, will talk about why birds collide with windows and how to address problems windows; Brenna Marsicek, Madison Audubon communications director and MAS Bird Collision Corps coordinator, will demonstrate ways to make home windows safer for birds.
View the schedule of presenters.
Download a paper registration form.
You are invited to join us in our quest to bring birds back. The Wisconsin Bird Conservation Partnership, Wisconsin Society for Ornithology, and Bird City Wisconsin are hosting a conference on March 24-25 to engage all those concerned with birds to help reverse bird declines at individual and community levels. Bringing Birds Back will be at the Culver Family Welcome Center on the UW-Oshkosh campus.
On Friday, our keynote speaker, Mike Parr, president of the American Bird Conservancy, will give us an overview of the state of the birds in the Western Hemisphere. This will set the stage for what we as individuals, communities, and members of organizations can do to help birds.
Presentation topics include:
Together, we can and will bring birds back one residence, one community, one Important Bird Area at a time. Please join us! Advance registration is required, and space is limited.
Register today. The deadline to register is March 6.
View the full agenda, including speakers.
You’ve sung “Auld Lang Syne” and toasted the New Year. Now it’s time to renew your community’s Bird City status. Renewals for 2023 are due by January 31, 2023.
As every year, the renewal process can be completed electronically, on our website. To get started, log in using your email and password, click on APPLY/RENEW, and read the instructions. The renewal fee is $175, unchanged from last year. You can pay online with a credit card or mail us a check.
Some tips to keep in mind:
Form a team: Bird City Wisconsin is all about community action, not the efforts of a single person. If responsibility for preparing and submitting your community’s renewal is shouldered by one hard-working, long-suffering soul, we urge you to re-assemble the team that was involved with your community's application/renewal process (or create a new one) and divvy up the work. Many hands really do make light work.
Notes: Suggestions for improving your 2022 renewal application were emailed to you. Please use them!
Do more: If your community did the same things in 2022 that it did in 2021, that’s fine, but keep in mind that being a Bird City is intended to be an ongoing process. Your community should take new bird-friendly actions, satisfying additional recognition criteria, each year.
Resolution: We require all Bird Cities to submit a resolution celebrating World Migratory Bird Day every two years, but truly, what’s best for birds is for you to submit one every year. If you need a sample resolution to get you started, let us know! We’d be happy to send one.
World, not International: And speaking of resolutions, please note that International Migratory Bird Day became World Migratory Bird Day in 2017. In your resolution, your application, and all other materials, the phrase “International Migratory Bird Day” should be “World Migratory Bird Day” and the abbreviation "IMBD," if you use it, should be "WMBD."
Questions: If you have questions or need help, write to us. We’d be happy to help.
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.
Go to the apply and renew page.
View our recognition criteria.
See a list of all Bird Cities.
Read how your community can become a Bird City.
Donate to Bird City Wisconsin.