Forest City. Screw City. Home of Cheap Trick. Rockford goes by many names and now they can add another alternate title to their Wikipedia page.

Bird City.

The new moniker comes courtesy of the Audubon Council of Illinois that is trying to build awareness of "birding communities" and municipal policies that can effect the bird population.

Rockford was one of three cities to receive the first round of "Bird City" designations, Freeport and Waukegan also received the distinctions.

So what makes a Bird City? The Audubon Council of Illinois used 6 criteria to make their selections:

  • Habitat creation, protection, and monitoring
  • Limiting or removing threats to birds
  • Education and inclusion
  • Climate and sustainability
  • World migratory bird day
  • Bird City resolution

According to the Audubon Council, Rockford excelled in two of these criteria; Habitat creation, protection, and monitoring and Education and inclusion.

Some of the "bird" events that impressed the Audubon Council were the Peregrine Falcons that nest atop the Register Star Building the last few years. It definitely is a source of pride for the city and the community was constantly updated on their status. The city even had a contest to name the newly hatched chicks.

There was also the bird murals that have been painted around the city. Part of the funding for the murals was from the Audubon Council and the results have beautified the city AND raised some awareness.


Other, less publicized, bird-friendly traits of the Rockford area include;

  • Golf course management to benefit birds
  • Maintenance of birding trails or hot spots with active public education
  • Community representation in at least one citizen science bird monitoring program
  • Substantial initiative to promote pollinator health
  • Promotion of the annual proclamation of World Migratory Bird Day
  • An officially-enacted Bird City Illinois resolution

The status of "Bird City" isn't just ornamental. The designation means that birders from all over the country know that Rockford is a destination spot to see a great number of birds in scenic locations. Which translates to more dollars for the city via tourism. They're all flocking to Rockford to catch some photos like the ones below.

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