In June 2021, Bird City Wisconsin awarded small grants to six Bird City communities: Kenosha County, Manitowish Waters, Mequon, New London, Whitewater, and Wisconsin Rapids.
In past issues of the newsletter, we described how New London, the City of Mequon, and Kenosha County used their small grants. In this issue, we tell what the Town of Manitowish Waters, a High Flyer and a Bird City since 2010, accomplished with its 2021 grant.
Mark Westphal, president of the North Lakeland Discovery Center Bird Club, tells us that the award helped the club improve bird habitat and an education station on the campus of the North Lakeland Discovery Center in Manitowish Waters, in Vilas County.
The station was created over a decade ago not only to provide quality habitat for Northwoods birds but also to give schoolchildren and other visitors to the Discovery Center up-close opportunities to observe bird behavior and banding demonstrations.
The bird club worked with a landscape designer and a retired Wisconsin DNR wildlife biologist and master bird bander to develop a plan to offer birds year-round cover, food, and water.
"Funds provided by the Bird City grant have been used to purchase 10 shrubs, including pagoda dogwood, arrowwood viburnum, common witch hazel, and Viburnum lantana 'Mohican,' aka wayfaring tree," says Westphal. "These plants have been placed in a central focal point near the bird feeding station."
In addition, bird feeders were rearranged and adjusted to make them easier for volunteers to fill and maintain. A cable system raises the feeders beyond the reach of the region's typically opportunistic bears.
The centerpiece of the feeding station, Westphal explains, is a new water feature. Employing creativity, ingenuity, and plenty of muscle, bird club members (pictured) fashioned a cascading stream and small ponds from several hundred pounds of selected rocks. An underground holding tank with a circulating pump allows for the continuous flow of water.
The area around the new water feature will be planted with plants and flowers chosen to benefit birds and pollinators. "We are also planning to provide nearby seating," Westphal reports, "so that visitors can relax and enjoy watching the bird feeders and the activity generated by the new plants and water structure."
This was the second year that Bird City Wisconsin, a program of the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory in Port Washington, awarded small grants, which are available to Bird City communities only.
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.
In 2021, in addition to the work done in Manitowish Waters, New London created a fun citywide educational project featuring colorful cutouts of the swallows featured in the Bird City Wisconsin logo. The Mequon Nature Preserve and the City of Mequon used its grant to replace nest boxes used to monitor bluebirds, Tree Swallows, and House Wrens. And the Pringle Nature Center and Kenosha County conducted free educational programs aimed at preventing bird-window collisions.
Descriptions of projects funded by Bird City Wisconsin in 2020 can be found on the Bird City website.