WHY BEING A BIRD CITY
Bird City Wisconsin works hard to implement is mission:
To encourage all communities in Wisconsin to implement sound bird conservation practices by offering public recognition to those that succeed in (a) enhancing the environment for birds and (b) educating the public about the interactions between birds and people and about the contributions birds make to a healthy community.
While bird watchers and nature lovers understand the importance of protecting birds and creating healthy urban habitat, many others need a little convincing. For those people we offer the top 10 reasons to become a Bird City:
THE FAMOUS BIRD CITY LOGO
Thanks to incredible artwork and hundreds of signs around the state, one of the most recognizable things about Bird City Wisconsin is the program's logo. Bird City Wisconsin is deeply indebted to Tom and Mary Uttech for creating and donating the logo and symbol for our organization. Tom Uttech has emerged as one of the most widely admired landscape painters in America. The logo started with Tom's water colors and was crafted by Mary, art director for QP, published by the American Society for Quality, into a striking logo that masterfully captures the urban habitat that Bird City Wisconsin was founded to protect and improve. The Uttechs live near Saukville, WI, and are active members of the Wisconsin birding and conservation community.
Above Photo: Members of the Wisconsin Audubon Council join members of the Bird City Wisconsin Steering Committee on Oct. 23, 2010, at the Goose Pond prairie outside Madison, Wis. Representatives of Audubon chapters statewide rallied to celebrate their success in launching Bird City applications from Stevens Point, Green Bay, Lake Geneva, Williams Bay, Oshkosh and Hales Corners. The Goose Pond Sanctuary is among 3,000 acres preserved by the Madison Audubon Society.
(Click Photo above to enlarge)
Bird City Wisconsin and TogetherGreen
THE HISTORY OF BIRD CITY WISCONSIN
For the 80% of Americans that live in urban areas enjoying nature often means watching birds. Urban dwellers may encounter Canada Geese, Ring-billed Gulls, and Mourning Doves, but careful observation can also reveal Common Nighthawks circling the skies or a Screech Owl perched in the backyard.
Bird City Wisconsin, which is modeled on The Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City USA, was created by a coalition of Wisconsin conservation and birding organizations to ensure that Wisconsin’s urban residents maintain healthy populations of birds and grow an appreciation for them.
The Bird City Wisconsin idea came into being during a 2003 meeting of the Urban Habitat Committee of the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative (WBCI). The Committee saw the potential for an intensive model for bird-focused urban conservation and education that followed the general framework of recommended actions and public recognition that made the Arbor Day Foundation's Tree City USA so successful across the nation. What followed was several years of refinement and a search for the right home.
In 2009, WBCI members received a planning grant for Bird City Wisconsin through the TogetherGreen program, an alliance between the National Audubon Society and Toyota. This grant was awarded to the Milwaukee Audubon Society, the current home of the Bird City Wisconsin program. Bird City's physical address is at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center.
Bird City Wisconsin Challenges 107 Communities to Do MoreBird City Wisconsin has blown past the century mark in its recognition of communities that have taken the initiative to do more to be a healthy place for both birds and people. After celebrating recognition of our milestone 100th (Sturgeon Bay) and 101st(Osceola) communities, Bird City has gone on to recognize six additional communities -- Shawano, Alma, Appleton, Monona, Rice Lake and South Milwaukee.
And now it has another exciting development to report: an updated set of criteria for becoming a Bird City.
Bird City recently made the first-ever change to the criteria it has established for recognizing communities that undertake conservation and education activities to make their communities healthy for birds… and people. Previously, communities could be recognized as Bird Cities by meeting 7 of 22 criteria from five categories (habitat creation and protection, community forest management, limiting threats to birds, education, and the official recognition and celebration of International Migratory Bird Day). To be considered an elite High Flyer, a community had to meet the Basic requirements plus at least 5 of 17 more rigorous criteria split into the same categories.
Bird City Wisconsin’s new criteria can be found online.
The changes in the criteria and in the application itself are designed to nudge Bird City communities to build upon the wonderful things they currently are doing to be recognized as Bird Cities. To maintain consistency in the program, all of the criteria that were in the old application are still in the new application (with some wording changes for clarification). To these were added an entirely new category, Energy & Sustainability, to help address climate change and urban pollution, a point system to emphasize the more-involved criteria, numerous new criteria, a single application rather than separate Basic and High Flyer applications, and a slight increase in the number of criteria required to become both a Bird City and a High Flyer.
The revised application also features a new restriction on High Flyer status that prohibits High Flyer recognition for communities that officially support outdoor cats. This is a huge issue as cats spread serious diseases to humans and wildlife (e.g., Toxoplasma gondii), cats that spend at least part of their lives outside do not live as long and are not as healthy as indoor cats, and research has shown that cats in the United States kill 2.4 billion birds and 12 billion mammals… EVERY. YEAR.
Bird City Wisconsin is modeled on the Arbor Day Foundation’s successful national program Tree City USA and seeks to promote civic management and public engagement to create healthy bird and human populations. The participants that have come together to seek recognition for their communities include public officials, bird watchers, conservationists, local businesses and chambers of commerce.
Bird City is supported by grants from the Arthur J. Donald Family Foundation, the Bird Protection Fund of the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin (NRF), the WE Energies Foundation and the Wisconsin Audubon Council; individual donations; and application and renewal fees. It also receives significant in-kind support from the Milwaukee Audubon Society. Seed funding and follow-up support for Bird City was provided by the National Audubon Society and Toyota through a TogetherGreen Innovation Grant.
Bird City Wisconsin strongly promotes participation in a number of statewide birding activities, including the NRF’s Great Wisconsin Birdathon, the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II, International Migratory Bird Day, the Christmas Bird Count and the Great Backyard Bird Count. It has helped launch similar programs in Minnesota, Indiana, Iowa and Texas, and offers to work with organizations in other states interested in such an effort.
Bird City has three annual application deadlines: March 1, July 1 and Nov. 1. Renewals are due each Jan. 31. Bird City Wisconsin communities receive street signs and a flag to trumpet their achievements, along with a plaque and a copy of Owen Gromme’s book “Birds of Wisconsin.”