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Brookfield, Elm Grove renew 'Bird City' statuses for 2013

Communities will partner for International Migratory Bird Day in June

A red-winged black bird at the Nature Center, located at Brookfield East High School

A red-winged black bird at the Nature Center, located at Brookfield East High School Photo By Patti Schimme

Feb. 5, 2013

Brookfield and Elm Grove both renewed their "Bird City" statuses for 2013 through Bird City Wisconsin, an initiative created by members of the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative. WBCI focuses on bird life sustainability in the state.

This is the third year both communities have been recognized, with a total of 60 Wisconsin communities recognized in the past three years.

"It is an accomplishment that keeps your city in the forefront of efforts to forge a statewide coalition of citizens and public officials who know that birds are more than beautiful - they are significant," Carl Schwartz of Bird City wrote in Brookfield's renewal letter.

To receive annual certification as a "Bird City," communities need to demonstrate in a written application that they have met at least seven of 22 criteria required by the organization, including creation and protection of habitat, limiting or removing hazards to birds, public education, forest management programs and a community celebration of International Migratory Bird Day, an event where residents learn about bird habitats in their community and how to maintain backyard habitats.

Laurie O'Shea, administrative specialist for the mayor and city attorney's office, initiated the project for Brookfield three years ago at Mayor Ponto's request.

"We definitely feel it enhances the natural systems operating in the environment," O'Shea said. "Most visitors and potential residents want to know their community cares about the environment."

Celebrating birds

Brookfield and Elm Grove are planning a joint celebration of the third annual International Migratory Bird Day June 1 at Brookfield Farmers Market at City Hall.

"Brookfield hosted its own event at the Nature Center at Brookfield East High School in mid-May for two years, but unfortunately, our attendance was rather low," O'Shea said. "We feel our exposure will be much better this year."

"We look forward to partnering with Brookfield for this year's event," said Ron Hill, village forester for Elm Grove.

Spotting rare species

O'Shea said Brookfield has areas where residents can see rare birds in a well-maintained habitat.

"The Nature Center is one of those hidden gems in Brookfield," O'Shea said. "It's an ideal spot for bird watching, with trails and ponds behind the center."

Residents can also see rare birds by walking though Village Park in Elm Grove, Hill said.

When a community is initially certified as a Wisconsin Bird City, it receives two street signs with the Bird City Wisconsin emblem, a Bird City flag, a recognition plaque, and other free items that honor the community's achievement.

Bird City's recognition year runs from April 1 to March 31, 2014. Communities must reapply each year to keep their statuses.

The Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative received a planning grant for Bird City Wisconsin through the TogetherGreen program, an alliance between the National Audubon Society and Toyota, in 2009.

For more information on Bird City Wisconsin and a map of recognized cities, visit BirdCityWisconsin.org.

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