Seeking birds for Superior tourism drawSuperior is busying itself to be among the elite — a Wisconsin Bird City. And to do it, a group of volunteers is working with Parks and Recreation Administrator Mary Morgan to take part in the 113th annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count right here in the city. The annual “citizen science” survey runs Dec. 14 to Jan. 5.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
Superior is busying itself to be among the elite — a Wisconsin Bird City.
And to do it, a group of volunteers is working with Parks and Recreation Administrator Mary Morgan to take part in the 113th annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count right here in the city. The annual “citizen science” survey runs Dec. 14 to Jan. 5.
This is the longest running citizen science survey in the world and each person who takes part provides critical information on the health of bird populations, said Jan Conley, a longtime Superior resident who now lives in Lake Nebagamon.
For the first time in recent memory Superior will be participating in the count that will take place on Dec. 27 and Dec. 29. The area covered includes the city, village and town of Superior, Oliver, South Range, Parkland and Oakland and includes local birding hotspots such as Wisconsin Point and the Superior Municipal Forest. Superior joins 60 other Christmas Bird Counts going on this year in Wisconsin.
According to the Audubon Society tens of thousands of volunteers throughout the Americas — young and old, scientists, experienced birders and novices —take part each year.
Participants are asked to bring binoculars, bird books for identification purposes and, Conley said, in the Northland, they are asked to wear warm clothing. Much of the birding will be done from vehicles but often with the windows open.
Thursday’s participants visited wild areas and backyard bird feeders, a great source of food for wintering birds. People living in the targeted area above are encouraged to email in their backyard feeder counts on Dec. 29 to firstname.lastname@example.org
Mary Morgan, Superior Parks Director who went out with the group had another reason for participating in the count. Morgan has been compiling documentation so that Superior will become, along with dozens of other Wisconsin cities, a designated Bird City.
The city already meets several criteria for nomination, including being a tree city, complying with Wisconsin’s Smart Growth law, having an existing bird habitat with legal protection and being an Important Bird Area.
The annual bird count will help the city meet another aspect of its application.
Becoming a bird city can enhance tourism in the area, said Conley, herself a bird enthusiast and volunteer at Hawkes Ridge in Duluth.
Bird watching is one of the fastest growing forms of outdoor recreation in the United States, according to the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative, which launched the Bird City program with Together Green with the help of a planning grant in 2009. In 2006 more than 48 million Americans watched birds and spent more than $32 billion on the pastime, the bird conservation organization reported.
Since the program’s inception, Wisconsin has identified 60 communities, including Bayfield, Wis., as a Bird City.