The central Iowa town of Pleasant Hill will be named this week as the state’s second Bird Friendly Iowa Community.

Patty Reisinger, a field coordinator with Trees Forever, says the organization is honoring communities that back birds by managing public lands with an ecological focus, protecting stream corridors, and supporting residents who implement water quality practices. “Communities are starting to recognize that birds are very important to our communities,” Reisinger says. “They’re more than just something pretty to look at. They’re an indicator of how well our communities are.”

For a community to be designated as a Bird Friendly Iowa Community, they have to meet three general criteria.”They’re going to protect, restore and enhance bird habitat as habitat is very important,” Reisinger says. “Second, to reduce threats to birds, and third, to educate and engage people in birding and conservation efforts.” She says birds are an extremely important means of connecting communities and citizens with our environment.

Reisinger, a horticulturalist from the Independence area, says birds serve as indicators of healthy soil, water, air, native vegetation and other natural resources. “The old saying years ago, the ‘canary in the coalmine’ was an indicator, if the air isn’t fit for a little bird to live, certainly, the miners wouldn’t be able to survive,” Reisinger says.

Pleasant Hill, located just east of Des Moines, will be recognized in a ceremony on Tuesday during the city council meeting. Last year, Waterloo was recognized as the first Bird Friendly Iowa community.