City Declares Migratory Bird Day; Discussion Turns to Global Warming
Left, Dr. Kent Hall addresses Stevens Point Council Members with information on the effect climate change could have on the area’s bird population. (City-Times photo)
By Brandi Makuski
City leaders this week approved a formal resolution marking May 3, 2014 as International Migratory Bird Day.
The resolution is required prior to applying for “Bird City, Wisconsin” status. Stevens Point was one of the first cities in the state to earn the “Bird City” title in 2010; a designation which indicates the city’s dedication to working with residents to make Stevens Point an ideal habitat for residents and birds as well as other wildlife.
“This is our fourth application and we were among the first recognized in the state,” said Dr. Kent Hall from the Aldo Leopold Audubon Society. Hall addressed the Stevens Point Common Council this week to encourage passage of the resolution.
Hall also thanked city leaders for a methane- burning program at the water treatment plant, which has replaced about 95 percent of the electricity used at the facility.
“This is critical because methane gas has 23 times the global warming effect of CO2,” Hall told the Council. “So the city is doing something that is very important to prevent climate change, and I congratulate them for that. Climate change, by the way, is very significant to me, because if we continue the current path, it’s estimated by 2100 50 percent- that’s 5,000 species- of birds will be extinct. The City of Stevens Point is certainly leading the way to prevent the accumulation of greenhouse gases- thank you so much for that.”
Alderman Mike Phillips said he’s noticed an uptick in migratory birds staying local for the winter months.
“Migratory birds are supposed to go south for the winter, right? We’ve got a lot of geese and ducks in this area. Shouldn’t we somehow implement a ‘no feeding migratory’ ordinance, to help them get on their way home, instead of helping them stay here?” Phillips asked.
“That’s certainly something we could take up with an ordinance, potentially,” said Mayor Andrew Halverson, who added it would need to come before the council in the future as its own agenda item, rather than become part of the resolution on recognizing a migratory bird day.
“One of the issues the doctor (Dr. Hall) and I discussed is not unlike some of the reflections that you have had, in that we are seeing birds that normally migrate thousands and thousands of miles stay here for the winter,” Halverson said. “Even as we look at the amount of extreme cold that we’re experiencing, a lot of those who are less familiar with the science of climate change mistakenly refer to it as global warming…the problem is, we are experiencing climate change most dramatically.”
Halverson called the statistics provided to him by Hall “alarming in terms of the amount of birds that are not migrating as they once normally had been”.
“Historically geese have never stayed as long as they have (recently), and many other species of birds are doing the same. It’s quite alarming,” Halverson said. “The concentration of geese we see, not only at McDill Pond, but certainly along the riverfront as well is a very legitimate concern of ours.”
INTERNATIONAL MIGRATORY BIRD DAY
WHEREAS, migratory birds are some of the most beautiful and easily observed wildlife that share our communities; and
WHEREAS, many citizens recognize and welcome migratory songbirds as symbolic harbingers of spring; and
WHEREAS, these migrants also play an important economic role in our community, controlling insect pests and generating millions in recreational dollars statewide; and
WHEREAS, migratory birds and their habitats are declining throughout the Americas, facing a growing number of threats on their migration routes and in both their summer and winter homes; and
WHEREAS, public awareness and concern are crucial components of migratory bird conservation; and
WHEREAS, citizens enthusiastic about birds, informed about the threats they face, and empowered to help address those threats can directly contribute to maintaining healthy bird populations; and
WHEREAS, since 1993 International Migratory Bird Day has become a primary vehicle for focusing public attention on the nearly 350 species that travel between nesting habitats in our community and throughout North America and their wintering grounds in South and Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean, and the southern U.S.; and
WHEREAS, hundreds of thousands of people will observe IMBD, gathering in town squares, community centers, schools, parks and wildlife refuges to learn about birds, take action to conserve them, and simply to have fun; and
WHEREAS, while IMBD officially is held each year on the second Saturday in May, its observance is not limited to a single day, and planners are encouraged to schedule activities on the dates best suited to the presence of both migrants and celebrants; and
WHEREAS, IMBD is not only a day to foster appreciation for wild birds and to celebrate and support migratory bird conservation, but also a call to action;
I, Andrew J. Halverson, as Mayor of the City of Stevens Point, Wisconsin, do hereby proclaim May 3, 2014 as INTERNATIONAL MIGRATORY BIRD DAY in the City of Stevens Point, and I urge all citizens to celebrate this observance and to support efforts to protect and conserve migratory birds and their habitats in our community and the world at large.