St. Paul, Minn. (June 12, 2017) – Bemidji is the state’s newest Bird City, an Audubon Minnesota project that recognizes communities for improving bird habitat, reducing threats to birds, and engaging citizens in conservation action. Bemidji’s Bird City bid was led by the Mississippi Headwaters Audubon Society (MHAS) who brought partners together to make Bemidji bird-friendly. Partners include the City of Bemidji, the Headwaters Science Center, Bogs & Logs Master Naturalists, Bemidji State University, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

“Bird conservation brings so many different groups to the table and helps to build a stronger and more productive community,” said Alex Wardwell, program coordinator for Audubon Minnesota, who awarded Bemidji with their Bird City Minnesota designation at a celebration this past weekend. “It’s exciting how a diverse group of partners have come together to make Bemidji a more safe and healthy place for birds, wildlife, and people.”

Bemidji has created bird habitat with native plant gardens and landscaping projects in cooperation with the City’s Monarch Committee, the Mississippi Headwaters Audubon Chapter and Bemidji State University. Several pollinator initiatives are underway including “Birds, Bees & Butterflies – Bemidji” highlighting native plantings, working with retailers and developing educational materials.

To reduce the threat of window collisions, the Minnesota DNR has installed window treatments at their regional office and is working with both the City and Bemidji State for other opportunities to address this problem. The threat of lead toxicity to birds is also being actively addressed through educational programs at Lake Bemidji State Park promoting alternatives such as copper ammunition. Lastly, a variety of groups partner with the City to reduce climate impacts by promoting renewable energy and adopting high efficiency standards for City buildings and operations.   

“Bird City recognizes all the amazing local efforts and collaborations that not only protect our natural resources, but work to educate and create stewards in our community,” said Marcia Larson, Bemidji Park and Recreation Director. “Our greatest resources are the people and their commitment to making Bemidji a great place to live.”

Bemidji developed a birding hotspot list and a birding checklist. Public bird feeding stations are active and accessible at several locations and interpretive signs highlight both Purple Martin conservation and shoreline restoration efforts. Youth and families can enjoy live raptor presentations by the Headwaters Science Center dozens of times per year. Christmas Bird Counts and Lake Bemidji water quality monitoring attracts citizen scientists. 

Bird City Minnesota is modeled after successful programs in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Program requirements focus on improving and protecting habitat, reducing threats and engaging the public in outdoor activities. Last week, funding to further develop the Bird City program was approved through the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR).

Over the coming months, Audubon Minnesota will work with the cities of St. Paul, Hastings and Bemidji to assess the results of the initial pilot program and begin taking Bird City Minnesota applications from interested communities throughout the state.  

To learn more about Bird City visit mn.audubon.org or email audubonminnesota@audubon.org

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