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Senior leads ‘Bird Friendly’ project in Fayette

UIU senior conservation management major Jake Dale, Upper Iowa Audubon Society President Connie Hvitved, Fayette Community Library director Annette Butikofer, and UIU assistant professor of biology and Upper Iowa Audubon Society board member Paul Skrade (l-r) display the birding action packs that will soon be available at the local library for public use.

Most people are familiar with the American goldfinch and northern cardinals that visit area bird feeders, but how many know the dark-eyed junco, house finch, or the downy or red-bellied woodpecker? Local youth and other residents can soon check out birding action packs, complete with binoculars and field guides, from the Fayette Community Library for documenting these and other bird species native to the community.

“Thanks to the teamwork of UIU and generosity of the Fayette Lions Club and other local organizations, we can now add another exciting activity-based option to our library offerings,” Fayette Community Library director Annette Butikofer said. “Now more than ever the library is not just all about books. There is an ever-growing list of ways that the library serves as a hub and the heart of the community.”

As part of his Bird Friendly Iowa (BFI) Fayette certification project, Upper Iowa University (UIU) senior conservation management major Jake Dale led the effort to raise funds for the newest library service. In addition to Dale, the items have been made available with the support and funding of state and local representatives, including the Upper Iowa Audubon Society’s Donald C. Larsen Grant, Fayette Lions Club, UIU professor of graphic design and Fayette Lions Club member Don McComb, and UIU assistant professor of biology and Upper Iowa Audubon Society board member Paul Skrade.

Dale decided to seek Fayette bird-friendly certification as part of his UIU Honors Program project after seeing Doug Harr, president of Iowa Audubon, provide a BFI presentation. Jake plans to wrap up the BFI application this spring in hopes Fayette will be one of the first five Iowa cities to achieve this certification.

“I was inspired by this opportunity to help provide other people the tools to enjoy more time out in nature,” Dale said. “I have always had a general passion for wildlife and this has certainly been a fun project.”

A native of Hastings, Minnesota, Dale previously led a 2019 Great Backyard Bird Count presentation at the Fayette Community Library and took community members out to bird watch. The observations were submitted to eBird, the world’s largest biodiversity-related citizen science project.

A similar community event on Friday, February 14, at the library will coincide with the 2020 Great Backyard Bird Count. In conjunction with the Friends of the Library Bake Sale and Café Day, Skrade and Dale will lead a 4 p.m. presentation and bird walk across the community. The public may also begin checking out the three birding action packs for two days on Tuesday, February 18.

In addition, Dale has provided a BFI certification presentation to the Fayette City Council and gathered documentation about the City of Fayette, such as how its Department of Public Works does not use pesticides in public places.

As a BFI community education and action program, Bird Friendly cities and counties mobilize citizens and public officials who already know that birds are more than beautiful – they are an important part of a healthy ecosystem and critical to our quality of life. In addition to an application fee and application form, Dale is required to submit a narrative stating how the Fayette community:

  • Protects, restores and enhances native habitat for birds and other wildlife
  • Reduces threats to birds and other wildlife
  • Educates and engages people in birding and wildlife conservation

BFI is a statewide bird habitat conservation and educational outreach program created by a partnership of Iowa conservation organizations. The organization’s flagship outreach and action program is Bird Friendly City/County.

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