In March 2002, leading bird conservation organizations in Wisconsin created a cooperative partnership called the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative (WBCI), which is part of the National Bird Conservation Initiative. The goal of this coalition is to work in close coordination to deliver the full spectrum of bird conservation statewide, emphasizing voluntary stewardship.
To date, 167 organizations — from the statewide Audubon Council to local bird clubs and bird-related businesses — have endorsed WBCI’s principles in support of bird conservation. These include:
◾Coordinate the efforts of private and public landowners and institutions, and all citizens who care for birds
◾Focus on the full array of wild bird species
◾Promote voluntary partnerships
◾Promote conservation based on the best available scientific information
◾Take an ecological landscape approach
◾Share knowledge to encourage voluntary stewardship and bird-based recreation.
WBCI’s Urban Committee introduced the concept for Bird City Wisconsin early on, based on the success of the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City USA program. They wanted a program that could do for communities and their bird life what Tree City USA has managed to accomplish in the field of urban forestry.
In 2009, WBCI members received a planning grant for Bird City Wisconsin through the TogetherGreen program, a unique alliance between the National Audubon Society and Toyota. During this initial phase of the program, the Milwaukee Audubon Society is serving as the program’s fiscal agent and the Schlitz Audubon Center is its home base.