Earning the Bird City designation – as Baileys Harbor, Egg Harbor and Ephraim have done – is one thing, but why not step it up a notch and designate all of Door County a Bird County?
“It seemed reasonable, since birds don’t read these signs (signs indicating that a municipality has been designated a Bird City),” said Pam Wegner, who chairs the Village of Egg Harbor’s very active Ad Hoc Bird City Committee. “A more reasonable approach to this would be to look at all of Door County.”
After all, Brown Marquette, Ozaukee and Taylor counties have already achieved Bird County status. Seems only natural that Door County should be among the counties known for its bird population.
“So once we completed our mission as an ad hoc group and became aware that other counties had achieved this designation, it seemed reasonable, logical and desirable for us to see if we could interest the county,” Wegner said. “Door County has such an amazing bird population, in large part because the migratory birds move through here. It’s a hugely important flyway for birds moving through.”
Egg Harbor’s Bird Committee invited County Administrator Maureen Murphy to a recent meeting and pitched her the idea of Bird County status.
“I think it is appropriate to Door County,” Murphy said, but adds, “The deciders are the county board.”
She expects the idea will first go to the Airport & Parks Committee in March, and then to the full county board in March or April.
“We’ll see if they agree if it’s a good fit,” she said.
One of the benefits Wegner sees coming from the initiative is a comprehensive birding map for the entire county.
“There’s a map that shows quite a few sites, but some of the parks and Land Trust sites and some of the Nature Conservancy sites are missing,” she said. “Getting a more complete map, that by itself would be a huge part of the application for Door County bird status.”
The other benefit is just raising awareness for the avian wildlife that, like their human counterparts, finds refuge in Door County’s natural beauty.
“We got the Door County Visitor Bureau involved,” Wegner said. “On their website (doorcounty.com) under silent sports, there’s a little button that says ‘birding’.”
The DCVB’s birding site includes 33 maps showing viewing locations on the peninsula, complete with GPS coordinates.
“Birding, albeit an important niche market, is a very small piece of the overall pie,” said Jack Moneypenny, president and CEO of the Door County Visitor Bureau. “That being said, anytime we can add another asset to our list of items that will attract visitors to Door County we are delighted. We will continue to ‘market’ birding to our visitors, understanding that this is another great piece of the patchwork quilt that we market as Door County as a destination.”
“It’s great news,” said Rob Hults, executive director of the Open Door Bird Sanctuary in Jacksonport. “I love Bird City because it’s information, but it’s followed up with a call to action. It’s not just a matter of learning about birds, there’s active participation from the different cities and communities. That’s just such a great message to get out there, you never know where those little tendrils will reach.”
A County Made for Birding
A very good reason for declaring Door County a Bird County can be found in the preamble to A Guide to The Birds of Door County, a 2004 publication of The Ridges Sanctuary: “Door County contains the longest shoreline of any county in the United States, 13 inland lakes, 21 offshore islands and thousands of acres of protected inland habitat. It is located on one of the principal north-south migratory routes, causing it to be a geographical magnet for bird life. It’s optimum latitude produces migratory birds from South and Central America in the summer and from the Arctic and Canada in the winter. Three-hundred-fifteen species of birds have been recorded here, which is more than one-third of the total number of species recorded in the United States and Canada. One-hundred-eighteen of these species are classified as rare, casual or accidental to Door County. So when birding Door County, expect the unexpected.”
20 Ways to Help Bird Conservation
It’s easy to get involved in bird conservation, and like anything, some of your most helpful actions begin at home.
1. Prevent bird collisions with your windows
2. Protect birds from pets
3. Clean your bird feeders
4. Don’t buy illegally-caged birds
5. Use cloth grocery bags and reusable bottles
7. Restore natural habitat in your community
8. Keep your distance
9. Leave fledglings where you find them
10. Slow down when driving
11. Buy bird-friendly products
12. Plant native
13. Teach others about birds
14. Get outdoors and enjoy nature
15. Take a friend bird watching
16. Support conservation
17. Be a citizen scientist
18. Reduce energy use
19. Avoid chemicals
20. Learn the hunting laws