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:
Category 1:Creation and Protection of Habitat
x Compliance with Wisconsin's "Smart Growth" law for land use planning and resource management.
x The community has a park system with habitat for a number of species of birds. This is demonstrated by bird monitoring results and/or other data obtained from researchers or local volunteers.
x The community contains a segment of Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail or a designated Important Bird Area.
Category 2:Participation in Programs Promoting Effective Community Forest Management
x The community is a "Tree City, USA.
Category 3:Limiting or Removing Hazards to Birds
x The community has an educational program to control free-roaming cats and/or actively publicizes the "Cats Indoors!" program.
Category 4:Public Education
x Community is represented in at least one bird monitoring program such as Christmas Bird Count, Great Backyard Bird Count, or Swift Night Out.
x Community has a program that involves schools, garden clubs, etc. in bird conservation activities.
Category5: Community celebration of International Migratory Bird Day
x Community adopts resolution recognizing IMBD and organizes a local IMBD celebration.
Highlights of Stevens Point's Bird Conservation Efforts
Creation and Protection of Habitat
ALAS (http://www.aldoleopoldaudubon.org) also was instrumental in preserving from development a 5.5-acre site adjacent to the 14-acre Kozcizkowski Park, owned by the City of Stevens Point. In less than one year, Audubon members raised $308,000 for purchase of what is now the Godfrey & Maybelle Erickson Natural Area. Audubon members and friends raised nearly $32,000, the Erickson’s contributed $60,000, the City of Stevens Point contributed $75,710, and the Wisconsin DNR contributed $140,500 through its Urban Greenspace Program.
ALAS enhanced the property with an educational kiosk, two boardwalks, an entryway sign, and the removal of invasive, Black Locust and exotic Tartarian Honeysuckle over a period of 6 years. More than 100 people helped with this effort.
For the past 7 years, ALAS has held the following activities at the Kozcizkowski Park/Erickson Natural Area site: 1) Bird walks, including two International Migratory Bird Day celebrations; 2) two years of nest box inspections by McKinley Center Elementary School; 3)Cavity Nesting Songbird Workshops for central Wisconsin in 2009 and for the Natural Resources Foundation in 2010.
Portage County is part of the Central Sands Prairie Region of the Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail. Stevens Point has two locations on this trail (No. 53, Iverson Park, # and No. 55, Schmeeckle Reserve.
Limiting or Removing Hazards to Birds
ALAS has held a Christmas Bird Count for more than 50 years, observing a total of 119 species. The center of the count circle is at the Old Main Building on the UW-Stevens Point campus. A total of 25-35 persons participate in this community-wide conservation project each year. The species record for a single count is 53 and was set in 2005.
In addition, ALAS has sponsored three cavity nesting songbird workshops that have been well-attended. Since mid-March of 2010, ALAS has published short articles (with photographs) on resident and migrating birds in the weekly "Outdoor Recreation Guide" of the Stevens Point Journal. These articles have proven to be quite popular and have elicited dozens of phone calls.
The ALAS website (aldoleopoldaudubon.org), has developed a web page devoted to Bird City Wisconsin. It provides links to:
Schools: ALAS has cooperated with four elementary schools in Stevens Point, two public and two private. These efforts have involved observation of birds in artificial nest boxes and included Tree Swallows, House Wrens, Eastern Bluebirds and Black-capped Chickadees. A total of 15 nest boxes have been placed at Kozcizkowski Park and 8 at Roosevelt ES (paid for by ALAS).
With two of the schools, Roosevelt ES (2 seasons) and McKinley ES (three seasons), an orientation session is provided at the schools by an ALAS birding expert before the season starts. Students start checking boxes in mid-April and continue until school is out (7-8 weeks). Students are expected to keep careful records of all boxes observed each week.
Teachers are uniformly supportive of this program. There is nothing like observing the reproductive cycles of live animals to connect kids to nature. These students are able to see bluebirds and chickadees fledge while school is in session and also observe nest building and egg laying swallows and wrens. A few students voluntarily continue into the summer months and are able to see each of these four species complete their reproductive cycles.
In the three seasons working with McKinley ES, a total of 120 students have participated in this program. In 2008, 72, and in 2009, 76 songbirds were fledged in the 15 nest boxes they monitored. In the two years at Roosevelt ES, 135 students have participated with 40 songbirds fledging in the 2009 season.
In addition to the long-term educational efforts by ALAS, two other schools have visited the nest boxes at Kozcizkowski Park/Erickson Natural Area on a single day: St. Paul Lutheran ES (27 students) and St. Peter Middle School (8 students).
ALAS also has engaged in a cooperative effort with the Stevens Point Downtown Business Association called "Bird Feeders in the Mall" in conjunction with the annual Harvest Festival. UW-Stevens Point and Stevens Point Middle School students helped 200 children (annually) build suet and black sunflower feeders.
Category 5: Community celebration ofInternational Migratory Bird Day
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