Bird City - Janesville

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 Janesville's Bird Conservation Efforts

This application for Bird City recognition comes from a collaboration of partners and the Bird City Janesville Planning Team of Neil Deupree and Ryan Stahl.  Partners include:  Sustainable Janesville (Alli Rollette), LWV Sustainability Work Group (Neil Deupree), Friends of Rockport Park (Rich Bostwick), Rock Trail Coalition (Dean Paynter), Green Rock Audubon Society (Tom O'Brien), Janesville Shade Tree Advisory Committee (Scott Schilling), Rotary Botanical Gardens    Horticulture Director, Rock County Conservationist (John Meland) , Ned Hollister Bird Club (Kelly Washburn), Friends of Riverside Park (Pam VanBrocklin).    

Celebration of Birds

When: Saturday, May 10, 2014 - 9 am - 1 pm
Where: Janesville, WI, United States
Event Description: Enjoy a family-friendly, educational morning at the first annual Celebration of Birds in Janesville’s beautiful Riverside Park. Among the activities will be guided bird walks each half hour, presentation on improving backyard habitat by UWEX’s Christy Marsden at 11 a.m., amateur photo contest winners announced, activities to learn bird ID by sight and song, bluebird and kestrel houses available. More information at Facebook BirdCityForJanesville

Category 1: Creation and Protection of Habitat

1A.  In March 2009, the Janesville City Council approved the city’s comprehensive plan after more than two years of work by city staff, the plan commission, a consulting firm as well as discussion among residents and council members.  The Plan provides recommendations in the areas of land use, transportation, economic development, parks and open space, historical and cultural resources, housing, community facilities, agricultural and natural resources, utilities, and intergovernmental cooperation.

1B.  Monitoring is conducted at the Cook Memorial Arboretum.  Focus species are the Cerulean Warbler, Hooded Warbler and Acadian Flycatcher, all of which are  considered to be rare to the area.  Tom Klubertanz and Quentin Yoerger are the project coordinators.

1D.  The City of Janesville, through the efforts of the Parks Department, provides bird habitat within “natural areas” locally known as the “Green Belt.”  These natural areas stretch 15 miles and essentially circle the city.  Many are in the process of being restored to a natural prairie state. There are also 28+ miles of hiking trails and paths within the City, many of which run through or near Green Belt areas.

Green Belts provide open space, encourage active and passive recreational opportunities, and preserve some of the native vegetation that once covered these important prairie areas. Green Belts support wildlife, natural prairie growth, trail use, enhance adjacent property values, and overall aesthetics. Future plans include planting additional prairie, prescribed burns, and trail improvements.  Brochures are available.

As a part of the reconstruction of a half-mile section of River Street in the central city, the city is adding a diverse group of 70 trees and a rain garden in the area along the street and the river.  All plantings will provide nesting habitat and nearly half of the trees are a source of bird food.

1G.  The Cook Memorial Arboretum is located in the city of Janesville and is recognized in the Great Wisconsin Nature and Birding Trail guide as an important area.  The arboretum is owned by the local school district and is considered an important area for breeding and migration of forest bird species.  Among the 125 species of birds sighted on the property are the Tufted Titmouse, White-eyed Vireo and Blue-winged Warbler.

State Coordinator Carl Schwartz announced Janesville's recognition as a Bird City Wisconsin at the November 2013 meeting of the Green Rock Audubon Society and presented the plaque, flag and road signs to City Council member Jim Farrell, on right. 
Category 2: Promoting Effective Community Forest Management

2A.  The City of Janesville was awarded a Tree City USA designation for the ninth year as of April, 2013.  It is supported by a resident committee – Janesville Shade Tree Advisory Committee. (J-STAC).  The mission of the Janesville Shade Tree Advisory Committee shall be to promote and enhance the beauty and general welfare of Janesville's urban forest.  The current focus is to increase the diversity of trees, moving away from the dominating “maple” culture currently found in the city.

Category 3: Limiting or Removing Hazards to Birds

3A.  Five-hundred “Cat Indoors” brochures were purchased from the American Bird Conservancy. Over 450 have been distributed throughout the community: 100 – Humane Society, 185 at eight vet clinics, 150 at five pet stores, plus the city library and Ned Hollister Bird club. Sites will be restocked as needed.

The City of Janesville has a cat “leash law” that requires any cat to be on a leash when off of the owner’s property.  Enforcement of this ordinance is spotty at best.

The Acadian Flycatcher (left) is a species of interest at the Cook Memorial Arboretum 
Category 4: Public Education

4D.  Christmas Bird Count link:   http://cbc.audubon.org/cbccurrent/current_table.html

In this area of Rock County, the Ned Hollister Bird Club coordinates the Christmas Bird Count and a May count.  Typically 10 Janesville residents participate.   Janesville residents also participate in the annual Crane Count and the 2013 Common Nighthawk survey.  As previously described, the Cook Arboretum monitoring is an on-going project that utilizes local residents for the large group counts.

4F.  Community Programs:

1)      With prompting from community activists, Wilson Elementary School, Janesville, was the site of 60 second through fifth grade summer school students focusing on birds as part of their four-week technology class taught by Shelly Gard.  Volunteer adult birders aided students in using borrowed binoculars to identify and watch birds on the Rock River and a wooded hillside, both of which border the school grounds.    A front page feature story in the Janesville Gazette made the community aware of the program.  http://www.gazettextra.com/article/20130618/ARTICLES/306189994

 “Several Janesville volunteers worked on a weekly basis with approximately 60 2nd-5th grade students observing backyard birds and waterfowl in the direct vicinity. The students recorded their observations, raised questions based on their observations, and used quality web resources and iPad apps to research the answers to their questions. At the conclusion of the research process, students created video clips that included the answers to their findings. Of course, there were questions that had remained unanswered. The students were given an opportunity to discuss these questions with an ornithologist from Cornell University via Skype sessions. The students were treated to an interactive visit from a local environmental center ornithology specialist. The students also took a walking field trip to a local business that maintains a bird sanctuary area of green space behind their store.” 

 --  Shelley Gard,  Wilson/Lincoln Innovation Specialist

The organizing committee for Janesville's Bird City recognition effort included (from left) Neil Deupree, Ryan Stahl, Kay Deupree and Linda Borgwardt. 
2) The Ned Hollister Bird Club draws interested birders from Rock County and beyond for monthly informational meetings and regular field trips.  Program calendars are available.

3) Green Rock Audubon Society (GRAS) hosts information meetings in Janesville, usually three per winter season.  In addition, a major effort by the group is restoring about 80 acres of native habitat southwest of Janesville.  The habitat includes oak woods, wetlands, open prairie near and along the east branch of Raccoon Creek.

4) Friends of Rockport Park have hosted an annual owl hike in June for at least eight years.  Dave Bendlin, retired science teacher, leads the walk beginning at 9 p.m., calling Barred Owls.  The last two years have been especially noteworthy with the owls coming to near-by trees and “talking” with the human caller.  Over 60 adults and children have enjoyed each of these night adventures in recent years.

5) Rotary Botanical Gardens provides two youth educational programs featuring bird education.  a) for schools: Prairies… They’re for the Birds! A dynamic program about Wisconsin birds and their habitats.  b) Discovery Backpacks-- a family based exploration with supplies provided.  Current programming highlights birds and bird habitat.     

Category 5: Celebration of International Migratory Bird Day

5A.  A city council resolution proclaims May 20, 2014 as International Migratory Bird Day in Janesville, and the council  also passed a  resolution supporting Bird City Wisconsin designation for the City of Janesville.  A Bird Festival will be held in May, 2014 in one of the city parks. 

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