The city of New London and Mosquito Hill Nature Center teamed up the weekend of May 3, offering activities to raise awareness about migratory birds.
International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) used to be officially celebrated on the second Saturday in May. However, with differences in when birds return to different parts of the country, cities throughout the county are now hosting events anytime during spring to help people learn what they can do to help resident and migratory birds.
Saturday featured events at the nature center with bird hikes and a special paddle in the lowland forest. Birdwatchers had the opportunity to visit parts of the property that are underwater in spring. By canoe and kayak they traveled through some flooded backcountry and saw some returning hawks and eagles.
The Birding by Boat was sponsored by Wolf River Paddle Sports (WRPS) of New London. Jeff Sommer, owner of WRPS, and volunteers accommodated nearly 30 boaters of all ages.
On Sunday, early risers visited Hatten Park and the Sturgeon Trail out on Cty Hwy X. Birders saw returning warblers and even an American Bittern. The afternoon featured Hortonville teen Emily Roach as she talked about What it Takes to Become a Falconer. Emily, at 15 years old, has successfully trained two red-tailed hawks. The working relationship between human and hawk is really amazing when you think about the fact that the hawk is the hunter and the human is there to assist.
The winner of New London’s Best Bird Friendly Yard Contest was Harland Steffen at 1040 Montgomery St. Harland won a 40-pound bag of black sunflower seed per month for a year courtesy of Larsen Cooperative of New London.
Harland gave permission for folks to stop and visit his yard and see what earned him the top honors.
The combination of providing three distinct feeder areas in different parts of the yard all with full clean feeders with predator guards, also several clean and full bath areas, properly built nest boxes for cavity nesters and a variety of native plants in the landscape that provide food sources and cover gave Steffen the top score.
The Feather Fest Committee hopes to offer the contest in future years to raise awareness of what landowners can do for improving their property to support bird life. Next year watch the local papers in April for contest announcements.
Most Feather Fest activities were free and open to all ages thanks to additional sponsors: Community First Credit Union, Michael Lawton Family Dentistry, the Northeast Wisconsin Birding Club and the Wolf River Chapter of Ducks Unlimited.
If you wish to learn about making your yard more bird friendly, contact the nature center staff at 779-6433 for ideas. Who knows maybe next year you could be the winner.