Imagine Stillwater recognized as part of a $4 billion annual US industry, a must-see destination to one in four Minnesotans, preserving wildlife and making local residents proud to live here. Well, surprise! This is about to happen! The Stillwater City Council last year approved a resolution to become an Audubon Bird City but COVID-19 grabbed all the attention. The project kick-off is Stillwater’s first Migratory Bird Festival on Saturday, May 15, 2021, 9 am - 1 pm at Pioneer Park. Beyond that, the city is committed to bird habitat improvement, threat reduction, and citizen engagement.
The effort to make Stillwater a Bird City was suggested by Sustainable Stillwater MN, which also promised to provide the city with ongoing volunteer help. The Audubon Society works with cities like Stillwater to become more bird-friendly, and to appeal to the ever-growing numbers of us that consider ourselves “birders.” You don’t have to walk around with heavy binoculars or sighting scopes or traipse to faraway places seeking rare birds to be a birder. All of us who enjoy seeing birds in our yards and in our public spaces and who know how important birds are to our habitat — we are all birders!
Becoming a Bird City provides public recognition to cities that address the importance of birds, that protect and maintain green space and bird habitat, that use native plants and trees, and try to reduce threats to birds.
The benefits of being recognized as a Bird City include:
Tourism: Birding is a $40 billion “industry.” Becoming a Bird City encourages birders and all who appreciate the outdoors to visit Stillwater.
Environmental Health: Birds are pollinators, seeders, and help manage pesky insect populations, as well as being objects of beauty.
Human Health: During the pandemic, we have re-learned the importance of getting outside for stress management, exercise, and physical and psychological well-being.
Building community: Engagement with and caring for birds provides us opportunities for building a sense of community and providing all-age activities.
The City of Stillwater has received its first grant for the project from Tropical Wings (https://tropicalwings.org ) to re-establish natural habitat - a required best practice - at Browns Creek Park.
The Stillwater Migratory Bird Festival will be a family-friendly activity featuring a raptor “guest” from Carpenter Nature Center and information and activities from organizations that work for birds including Master Gardeners, Wild Ones, US Fish and Wildlife, and Sally Manzara Nature Interpretive Center. Bird hikes are scheduled in the morning. For more info see Sustainable Stillwater MN’s Upcoming Events page. We hope you’ll attend the Festival and participate in coming activities. Birds lift our souls and our sense of hope for the future, something we could all use right about now.
Written by Sheila Maybanks and Wendy Gorski, Sustainable Stillwater MN is a 501c3 nonprofit creating and supporting local initiatives that promote sustainability in the Stillwater, Minnesota area.