Bird City - Oconto - Year 3: High Flyer

Birds! Birds! Birds! on the Oconto Marsh, June 21, 2014; click here for details
To achieve annual certification as a "Bird City," communities need to demonstrate in a written application that they have met at least seven of 22 criteria, including three from Category 1 and one from each of the other four categories:

Approved Application

 

Highlights of Oconto's' Bird Conservation Efforts

Category 1:  Creation and Protection of Habitat

1B.  The city of Oconto has a large marsh area also known as the Oconto Marsh and is part of the Great Wisconsin Birding & Nature Trail, Lake Michigan Region.  The Oconto Marsh & Rush Point Refuge is located just north of the City of Oconto on the west shore of Green Bay. Covering more than 800 acres, the marsh is an area rich in birdlife, which includes: Wood Ducks, Ring-neck Ducks, Snowy Owl, Scoters and many, many more.  It also encompasses a state waterfowl sanctuary and a breeding ground for the Yellow-headed Blackbird.  Uncommon birds such as Acadian Flycatchers and Cerulean Warblers can also be found here.

Two times a year, bird monitoring activities are performed at the Oconto Marsh.  This monitoring is currently being performed by the property manager, DNR Wildlife Biologist.  Water bird surveys focus on a suite of secretive marsh birds using a recorded call to elicit responses from rails, grebes, and herons. The survey is conducted multiple times during the breeding season. Birds commonly heard or seen during the survey include Sora and Virginia rails, American bitterns, Coots, Canada Geese, Mallards, Red-winged blackbirds, Sedge and Marsh Wrens, and Sandhill Cranes.  Many other marsh birds have been found on the marsh during these surveys.  Survey results are sent to the Marsh Monitoring Program coordinated by Bird Studies Canada and used to track trends in marsh-dwelling birds.

Oconto Marsh
The city has also established a series of bluebird trails.  Bluebird nest boxes have been strategically placed throughout the city and within Copper Culture State Park.  In addition, Oconto participates in the annual Crane Count.

1C.  City of Oconto ordinances mandate the protection of park property.  “No person shall kill, injure or disturb or attempt to injure or disturb waterfowl, birds or animals, wild or domestic, within any park, except as permitted by this Chapter.  No person shall climb any tree or remove flowers or fruit, wild or cultivated, or break, cut down, trample upon, remove or in any manner injure, deface, write upon or ill use any tree, shrub, flower, flower bed, turf, soil, sand, fountain, ornament, building, structure, apparatus, bench, table, official notice, sign, fence or other property within any park”.

In addition, city of Oconto ordinance states, “Acts of Cruelty Prohibited.  No person except a police officer or health or humane officer in the pursuit of his duties shall, within the City, shoot or kill or commit an act of cruelty to any animal or bird or disturb any bird’s nests or bird’s eggs”.

1D.  Oconto Park and Recreation Department has installed additional bird houses within park premises for the purposes of encouraging bird habitat and will be adding additional bluebird trails.  The city has also established an additional park called the Bond Community Park. 

Oconto Marsh wildlife and bird watching area

1F.  The city of Oconto Forestry Department policy states, “It is the policy of the City of Oconto and Forestry Department to regulate and establish policy for the control of planting, removal maintenance and protection of trees and shrubs in or upon all public areas and terrace areas of the City to persons using the streets, alleys, sidewalks or other public areas; to promote and enhance the beauty and general welfare of the City; to prohibit the undesirable and unsafe planting, removal, treatment and maintenance of trees and shrubs located in public areas; and to guard all trees and shrubs both public and private within the City against the spread of disease, insects or pests.   Assistance in tree selection and location is available from the City Forester”.  More information on pests and diseases impacting trees can be found on the City of Oconto Forestry Department web site:   http://www.cityofoconto.com/Parks_Rec/Forestry.html

In addition, through the Department of Natural Resources and the US Department of Agriculture, the City of Oconto offers the public information on the identification, control, and removal of invasive species.  Brochures on invasive species are available at city hall.  Links are also available on the City’s website that includes the following: 

Wisconsin DNR:  http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/topic/Invasives/

USDA:  http://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/about.shtml

1G.    The following Web link will show that the city of Oconto contains three segments of the Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail and a designated Important Bird Area to include the Oconto Harbor, Oconto Marsh and Rush Point (#45):

http://www.wisconsinbirds.org/Trail/

1I.  The city has added a park on state highway 22 and planted 23 new trees within the city.

Category 2:  Promoting Effective Community Forest Management

2A.  The city of Oconto has participated in the Arbor Day Foundation’s “Tree City USA” program for 13 years.

2B.  The city of Oconto Parks and Recreation Department has also revitalized Sharp Park to include nature trails and to manage the park for birds and other wildlife that live in the wooded habitat.

Category 3:  Limiting or Removing Hazards to Birds

3A.  In 2012, the City of Oconto purchased brochures to publicize the “Cats Indoors!” program to help educate the public about the problems associated with free roaming cats.  These brochures were distributed at city hall, the county humane society located in the City of Oconto, and various other locations within the city.

3B.  The city park and recreation and forestry director is working on a program to inform city residents of the dangers of bird strikes and how to prevent them.

3C.  In September of 2013, the Oconto Bird City Group hosted a booth at the Oconto Fly In.  The group’s booth included education material for handouts on how to protect birds.

Category 4:  Public Education

4C.  Through the city website, Oconto Bird City Facebook page, links to the Audubon Society and the National Wildlife Federation can be found.

4D.  During the spring of 2013, representatives from the community participated in the annual Crane Count.  These representatives will also organize and participate in the 2014 Crane Count.  The city has also been encouraging citizens to participate in the annual Christmas Bird Count.

4E.  In addition to the Crane Count on April 13th, 2013, Oconto celebrated the opening of the new viewing platform at the Oconto Marsh and hosted a bird city festival centered around the new viewing platform.  They have a Nature/Bird City Festival planned for June 21st, 2014, which will include a raptor show.

4F.  The Bayshore Academy from the Oconto elementary school participates in monitoring a city Bluebird trail. 

Category 5:  Community Celebration of International Migratory Bird Day

On June 21, 2014, the Oconto Bird City Group will hold a nature/bird city festival to celebrate Oconto’s International Migratory Bird Day.  This event will be held at the Copper Culture State Park.  The event will include, bluebird trail hikes, booths for birding and wildlife information, wildlife experts to be available to address the importance of the Oconto Marsh, and many additional booths to add fun for the festival.  The event will also host a live raptor show by REGI (Raptor Education Group).  Mayor Victoria Bostedt has officially proclaimed Oconto’s International Migratory Bird Day as being June 21, 2014.  Information about the event will be in the local paper to support the designation of IMBD.

High Flyer Achievements

5 Criteria Accomplished

Category 1 Creation and Protection of Habitat

1C.  The municipality has a program for helping control other types of invasive species.  The city of Oconto provides brochures on controlling various types of invasive species distributed at city hall for the public.

1G.  The community facilitates Scouting and conservation groups in such projects as established Bluebird trails and erecting Wood Ducks nesting boxes.  The city has involved a local school group (Bayshore Academy) in the establishment and monitoring of local bluebird trails.

1I.  The community maintains a birding trail or “hot spot” location with educational signage and/or literature.  The community has installed a kiosk at the Copper Culture State Park in order to show the types of birds that can be found in our community.

Category 3: Limiting or Removing Hazards to Birds

3A.  The community has laws or regulations in place to eliminate feral cat populations.  In 2012, the city of Oconto purchased brochures to publicize the “Cats Indoors!” program to help educate the public about the problems associated with free roaming cats.  These brochures were distributed at city hall, the county humane society and various other locations within the city.  In addition, live trapped feral cats are taken by the Oconto police department to the local area humane society.

Category 4: Public Education

4A.  The community is active in raising awareness of its bird assets.  The city of Oconto and the Oconto Bird City group are actively raising awareness of the bird assets that can be found in the community.  They have created a 2014 Bird City of Oconto Bird List, an Oconto Marsh Bird List and a Help the Birds brochure.
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