St. Charles becomes seventh Illinois Bird City

St. Charles is officially a “Bird City,” making it just the seventh community in the state to receive the distinction from Bird City Illinois.

The honor was presented to members of the St. Charles Natural Resources Commission before a Kane County Audubon Society meeting May 8.

According to commission member Suzi Myers, the process to become a Bird City started about a year ago when the St. Charles City Council passed a resolution allowing the commission to apply for the designation.

In order to become a Bird City, a community must meet at least nine criteria from four action areas: habitat, threats to birds, education and engagement and sustainability.

According to Myers, initiatives in St. Charles like the restoration of the Ferson Creek Fen and the establishment of a native prairie plant farm were highlighted in their application, along with the city’s bird education efforts.

“It’s something that we can be really proud of, that our community, without even knowing that they were fulfilling the criteria for this, (was) doing it on their own,” Myers said.

Also part of the application was the city’s designation as a Tree City USA, which it has held for the past 26 years.

The Bird City Network, inspired by Tree City USA, began in 2009 in Wisconsin. It has since expanded to include programs in nine states, as well as Colombia and Mexico.

The first Bird City Illinois distinctions were awarded in 2021 to Waukegan, Freeport and Rockford, with Grayslake following in 2022, and Libertyville and Evanston receiving the honor in 2023. St. Charles is the first community in Kane and DuPage counties to be recognized.

Along with the commitment to protecting birds, Grayslake, Libertyville and Evanston have met criteria in the sustainability category, which includes initiatives like solar energy programs and bicycle lanes.

To keep the designation, all Bird Cities must participate annually in World Migratory Bird Day, which takes place each year on the second Saturday of May. In St. Charles, the city recognizes the event by turning off the municipal building’s outside lights and encouraging residents to do the same in an effort to minimize confusion and harm to migrating birds.

As birds are being lost to dangers like light pollution and feral cats, Myers said that programs like the Bird City Network are vital for protecting birds and other wildlife.

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