Learn to create bird-friendly habitats and more at Algoma’s Bird City Celebration
ALGOMA – A party and learning opportunity taking place Saturday is, quite literally, "for the birds."
It's the annual Bird City Celebration, held to commemorate Algoma's designation as an official Bird City Wisconsin. Birders of all levels of experience and interest can join the free, feathery festival, which offers seminars, a bird photography contest for local youths, vendors of wild bird- and nature-related products, meet-and-greets with authors of birding books, a children's activity area and more.
Algoma was named a Bird City Wisconsin on May 4, 2013, after more than a year of work by the city itself and the Bird City Algoma Committee. The city hosts a wide range of bird species year-round, from songbirds and migratory birds inland to water and shorebirds along the Lake Michigan shoreline. Local parks, the Ahnapee Trail and Crescent Beach are among the most prominent bird-watching sites.
"I think with the shores of Lake Michigan, the concentration of migratory birds here is one of the largest in the country," said Cathy Pabich, one of the Bird City Algoma committee members. "We're really lucky to be in this location."
Pabich said the yearly celebration, which is sponsored by the Bird City Committee and also is meant to recognize International Migratory Bird Day, is one of the requirements to earn the local designation from Bird City Wisconsin.
While International Migratory Bird Day is celebrated in the United States on the second Saturday in May, Bird City Algoma organizers choose to hold their event in early April to help people make their yards bird-friendly for the spring and summer birding season.
"We try to catch people early because of the emphasis on improving habitats," Pabich said. "By catching people before they get outside, plan for their landscapes, we try to get them to plan a good habitat."
Pabich said people can help backyard and migratory birds by making sure birds have suitable shelter and clean water, trying to prevent birds from crashing into house windows, and using native plants in their landscapes to provide other food sources.
"Not all birds eat seed. A number of them eat berries and insects, which are a good source of protein," she said.
One of the seminars is not directly about birds — Karen Newbern of Door County Landscape and Nursery gives a program at 12:30 p.m. on using native plants in one's yard to create a butterfly garden — but Pabich said that ties into providing a better habitat not just for birds but humans as well.
"It's good when a landscape is insect-friendly, because it's bird-friendly," she said. "And it's good for the environment. It's making the community healthy for birds and for people."
It's part of the committee's Bird Bistro Movement, an effort to get people and businesses to provide bird-friendly gardens, emphasizing the use of native plants. Algoma Public Library and Algoma High School are two public locations that have created Bird Bistros, and Pabich said about 10 other gardeners have done the same. One of them is committee member Mary Goodner, who lives next to the school and lets school groups tour her garden.
Another seminar for the event has Bob Kuhn, a Bird City Algoma Committee member (and sometimes photo contributor to the Star-News) discuss the ins and outs of getting those photos of songbirds, waterfowl and more in "Getting the Picture" at 10 a.m. To see some of Kuhn's work, go to the Bird City Algoma website.
At 11 a.m., Open Door Bird Sanctuary of Sturgeon Bay brings live owls, hawks and falcons to show in its "Hunters of the Sky" program.
Returning this year is a bird photo contest open to middle and high school students in Kewaunee County. Photos had to be of wild birds, not pets, taken in the county and not enhanced, except for cropping. The image judged best will earn $60, with $40 for a special Judges' Award and prizes of $25, $15 and $10 for first through third places in each category.
The children's area will offer readings by children's book author and illustrator Janet Tlachac-Toonen at 10:15 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., along with information on monarch butterflies with Lois Lehmann and other activities.
Vendors will bring wares and information ranging from products for birds to beekeeping items, gardens and landscapes to arts and crafts. New to the vendor list this year, Pabich said, are members of the Northeastern Wisconsin Woodworkers Guild, who are bringing bird-themed woodcarvings and wood burnings.
Guests also can meet Alan Haney, author of the photo-illustrated book "Jewels of Nature: Delightful Birds I Have Known."
"We try to provide a variety (of programs)," Pabich said. "We'll have the live birds for the kids, the landscape program, the photography for bird-watchers."
The Bird City Celebration takes place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Algoma Youth Club, 620 Lake St. Lunch will be available for purchase at noon. Admission is free. Door prizes will be awarded. For more information, go to birdcityalgoma.com.
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Contact Christopher Clough at 920-741-7952, 920-562-8900 or [email protected].
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Learn to create bird-friendly habitats and more at Algoma's Bird City Celebration