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GLIN==> Chicago/FWS Migratory Bird Treaty

Cities sign treaty to make birds feel welcome
Debbie Howlett

 USA Today
 Page 05A

Chicago is one of the first to sign on to Fish and Wildlife program. It's
part of an effort to make metropolis more appealing.


Hoping to bring more wilderness to the city, Mayor Richard Daley has signed
an unusual treaty with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to create new
habitats for migrating birds.

The treaty is a pilot program the Fish and Wildlife Service hopes to extend
to as many as a dozen other cities nationwide by the end of next year.

Chicago and New Orleans are the first to sign on, agreeing to make the
cities more appealing to the7 million birds that migrate north to Canada
each spring (and south again in the fall) along the Mississippi River
corridor. The city will get a $100,000 grant.

For Chicago, the migratory bird treaty is part of a larger program begun by
Daley to chip away at the city's concrete core and make the nation's
third-largest city more livable. Daley has spent as much as $10 million the
past five years planting thousands of trees and flowers, adding hundreds of
acres of park and refurbishing a dozen lakefront beaches. He even built
what city officials call an air- purifying garden on the roof of City Hall.

Daley sees the migratory bird treaty as extending Chicago's environmental

"These beautiful and wild creatures are an incredible natural resource,"
Daley said in signing the agreement last week. "The treaty is an important
addition to our ongoing efforts."

The spring migratory season begins in late March. Birds as diverse as the
red-tailed hawk and Connecticut warbler fly along the western shore of Lake
Michigan as they travel to nesting grounds, some as far north as the Arctic
tundra. Chicago, which is at the southern tip of the lake, is a natural
stopover for birds that instinctively shy away from expanses of open water
and fly instead along rivers and shorelines.

The birds basically stop when they get tired of flying, according to Carl
Korschgen, a supervising wildlife biologist at the U.S. Geological Survey
in La Crosse, Wis. Chicago is a good resting place because the jet stream
pushes the birds east of the Mississippi River. They have to fly harder to
stay on the shoreline, and they get tired.

The spring migration will bring rarely seen neo-tropical birds in full
plumage, which bird watchers love. But Jerry Garden, president of the
Chicago Audubon Society, says improving the quality of human life shouldn't
be the primary concern. "It's not so much how important the birds are to
Chicago, it's how important Chicago is to the birds," Garden says. "They
need to stop here to rest and replenish fat stores, so they can make it to
their nesting grounds."

Urban birds are among the nation's most vulnerable bird groups, according
to the Fish and Wildlife Service .

Their populations are dwindling because of loss of habitat, improper use of
pesticides and predation from house cats.

The city already maintains two key habitats -- a bird sanctuary at Addison
Park and the Magic Hedge on Montrose Harbor. They're just 4 miles from the
high-rise urban center of the city.

Montrose Harbor is one of the best urban birding spots in the nation. Bird
watchers often can spot up to 75 species in a day among the 300,000 birds
that can alight in the city at the mid-April peak of migration.

Chicago has plans to restore the Lake Calumet marshes south of the city as
well as develop wildlife gardens along the lakeshore.

The program to protect the migratory birds includes initiatives as simple
as after-school programs sponsored by the parks department to building
birdhouses to shelter the winged visitors.

"For a lot of urban residents, this may be the only wildlife they see on a
regular basis," says Chris Tollefson of the Fish and Wildlife Service ."It
helps people realize they are connected to the natural

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