30 June 2009

June Bird-strikes at Omaha Show an Increase Compared to 2008

Bird-strikes noted in east Omaha buildings during June 2009 showed an increase in known occurrences in comparison to records available from 2008.

Julian Date

June 2008

June 2009

152 (June 1)































































181 (June 30)



There were 40 known bird strikes, compared to 17 in 2008.

With an increase in instances, there was also a greater number of building places where the bird-strikes occurred. Though the regular places continued to cause the demise of birds protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, there were a number of additional locales where carcasses were documented. This includes the Brandeis Building downtown, Duchesne Academy in the Cathedral neighborhood, and several places on the campus of the University of Nebraska Medical Center, notable at the Wittson-Bennett Halls skywalk and the so-close skywalk across 42nd Street between Wittson Hall and the Sorrell Center. The World Building downtown is another new addition to the list of buildings.

The deadliest building this month is the same place as it has been during the duration of this survey of bird strikes. Although there were fewer this year at the Qwest Center Omaha, the eight strikes noted puts this structure once more at the top of the list, with the 1200 Landmark Center, on Farnam Street taking second place.

Omaha Building

June 2008

June 2009

1200 Landmark Center



American National Bank



Brandeis Building



Central Park Plaza



Duchesne Academy Skywalk



First National Tower



Harper Center, Creighton University



Kiewit-Clarkson Skywalk



Kutak Rock - Omaha Building



Omaha World-Herald Building



OPPD Energy Plaza



Qwest Center Omaha



Sorrell Center



Union Pacific Center



Wittson Hall-Sorrell Center Skywalk



Wittson-Bennett Halls Skywalk



Woodmen Park



Woodmen Tower Skywalk



World Building



Zorinsky Federal Building




16 *


* Plus an additional species of a warbler - that could not be sufficiently identified - on the sidewalk of the All Makes Office Equipment Company

Each instance this month were carcasses, except for two disabled warblers, noted and then photographed where found after a death with birdly agony after having struck the glass of some building that so suddenly caused an unexpected demise.

Increased Number of Species Documented

There were 15 species that impacted Omaha buildings to an extent sufficient to lead to their mortality during June 2009. There were ten species represented among the June 2008 tally.

Dead Dickcissel on the sidewalk at the west entry of the World Building.

Dead Wood Duck drake on the sidewalk at the northeast corner of the Omaha World-Herald Building.

Two species not previously recorded include the Wood Duck - a drake found at the Omaha World-Herald Building near the end of the month, and a Dickcissel on the sidewalk on the west side of the World Building, found on the same day. Perhaps the latter was a carcass dropped by the flighty Peregrine Falcon pair hanging around the Woodmen Tower that have a been giving particular attention to providing something to eat for the growing brood of youngsters of this breeding season.

Bird Species

June 2008

June 2009

Wood Duck



Rock Pigeon



Mourning Dove



Yellow-billed Cuckoo



Common Nighthawk



Chimney Swift



Swainson's Thrush



American Robin



Gray Catbird



European Starling



Cedar Waxwing



Nashville Warbler



Mourning Warbler



Common Yellowthroat



Wilson's Warbler



Canada Warbler






Rose-breasted Grosbeak



Indigo Bunting






Common Grackle



House Finch



A shout-out of appreciation to a prominent birder cognizant of Nebraska species that helped to identify a few birds - or relicts thereof - denoted in less-than-adequate pictures.

The most dramatic difference was the number of Common Grackles that met their quick demise. There were 17 noted this month, including a juvenile that died after dusk on the last day of the month, when a slew of birds were ousted from the roost at the Nebraska Medical Center as a helicopter took off from the nearby helipad. It was already dark, and the bird was seen dying.

Although particulars have not been kept, many juveniles also have been seen dead on the Omaha streets, with at least ten seen during the month which had been hit by some vehicle and ended up so squashed on the pavement.

It should also be noted that during this month, records were also kept on species such as the Rock Pigeon and European Starling that were not noted last year since they are not included under measures of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Owner's of each building where a bird death occurs is responsible for each instance of a deadly strike as this is considered taking under a clause of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Yet, this federal law, is apparently selectively enforced by the Fish and Wildlife Service, since the agency officials have in particular ignored every case of a bird-strikes in Omaha. This is a government agency that has done nothing to make a difference to protect wild birds from endless deaths. Also, when there is a carcass, the person handling what had been a feathered bit of wonder, is doing so without authorization, as the F.W.S. has indicated that a permit is required to handle a bird protected by the MBTA. This would seem to mean that if a carcass is picked up for disposal, this is some kinda violation of a federal law, though there is obviously no enforcement of throwing away trash, which sadly includes the carcass of a colorful bird that had been a lively part of the natural environment some place.

There will be more bird-strikes next month and subsequent months beyond, as the overall number of birds which die at Omaha continues its endless increase in the mortality of birds! And the river city is just place where this is happening around the world.

Overall, the number of deaths throughout the U.S. and world-wide is astounding as their are millions or billions or however many that die, with the particulars unknown. In the U.S. this situation is an ink black and ugly smear on officials of the F.W.S. that basically ignore so many situations where this occurs on a regular, known basis.

Effort and attention to the situation could readily provide options to reduce the mortality by addressing deadly conditions.

Martins Return to Midtown Omaha Roost

Purple Martins have returned to the midtown Omaha roost where last autumn more than 30,000 were reported.

Many hundred were present on the evening of June 29th. A few were first noticed using the communications tower on the highrise at 122 South 39th Street. A couple of blocks west several hundred were noted near 41st and Farnam streets sitting on the power lines, and among a couple of small trees.

At the roost site on the medical center campus, birds were perched on the rooftop edges of the two towers, some were in the trees, and others came rushing in as dark settled on the scene.

The behavior of these martins was noticeably different than the aerial gathering, then swooping into the clump of roost trees, noticed last year.

This is a very early migration gathering in the Missouri Valley. It is not certain if the birds will occur in the same or increasing numbers as the season progresses. Also, it is not clear how the birds will transition ... whether they will remain for a period of time, with others joining in; or, whether there will be bunches that will be transitory, with regular arrival and departures from this locality.

The congregation is a wonderful sight to experience and can be easily enjoyed.

Views of Purple Martins gathered in midtown Omaha, June 29, 2009.

Tuesday Visit

Due to the freshness of the roost and antics of the martin, another visit was made to the locale on June 30th. This time, there were about 600 martins counted, along with about 1000 European Starlings and a few hundred Common Grackles. [Martins on the power line] [Martins with an evening moon]

26 June 2009

Research Indicates Method to Prevent Birds From Striking Windows

The latest article published by bird-strike expert Dr. Daniel Klem, Jr. reports on a new type of add-on window covering that was found to prevent birds from striking windows.

"The novel film presents a pattern composed of UV-reflecting and UV-absorbing areas," said Dr. Klem, the Sarkis Acopian Professor of Ornithology and Conservation Biology at Muhlenberg University, Allentown Pennsylvania. "This film was developed in collaboration with Dr. Tony Port, a research and development chemist for CPFilms, Inc. in Martinsville, Virginia."

"My experiments reveal that this film is an effective deterrent, resulting in birds behaving as if they see and avoid windows covered with this film," Dr. Klem said. "The film is an exterior film, and the hopes of the company are that it can be used to retrofit existing windows in existing buildings worldwide."

Article abstract: "Birds behave as if clear and reflective glass and plastic windows are invisible, and annual avian mortality from collisions is estimated in the billions worldwide. Outdoor flight cage and field experiments were used to evaluate different methods to prevent collisions between birds and windows. Stripe and grid patterns of clear UV-reflecting and UV-absorbing window coverings presented an effective warning that birds avoid while offering little or no obstructed view for humans. Birds used UV-reflected signals to avoid space occupied by clear and reflective sheet glass and plastic. Window coverings with effective UV-reflecting and UV-absorbing patterns as warning signals can prevent unintentional killing of birds from collisions with windows. One-way films that made the outer surface of windows opaque or translucent were successful in deterring bird strikes. Ceramic frit glass consisting of a visual pattern of densely spaced 0.32-cm diameter dots, 0.32 cm apart was an effective collision deterrent. Uniformly covering windows with decals or other objects that are separated by 5 to 10 cm was completely or near-completely effective in preventing strikes. ..." from June issue of the Wilson Journal of Ornithology.

"My previous work reveals that lethal bird-window collisions are possible wherever birds and windows mutually occur, so all windows in all buildings are potential candidates for this protective film," Dr. Klem said. "Naturally, the highest image priority windows where regular and consistent fatal strikes occur should be recommended as the first application of this film, when and if it becomes available."

"CPFilms, Inc. is currently evaluating whether a market for this film exists. The marketing department of this company must be convinced that there will be clients that will purchase and use this film."

"I have tried to enlist the help of select colleagues who are concerned about this important conservation issue for birds and people to write CPFilms and advocate for their commitment to produce and offer the film for commercial sale," Dr. Klem said. "If they do this, the film can immediately address existing problem sites."

The address for the company, and where to send correspondence to their marketing department in support of commercial development of the window covering, is:

Box 5068
Martinsville, Virginia 24115

"The long term solution is to convince glass manufacturers to incorporate similar protective patterns as coatings on new sheet glass for use in new construction."  

"At least to date, no glass manufacturers have contacted me with a serious interest in developing such a bird-safe glass," Dr. Klem said. "There is a German glass manufacturer that has produced what they claim is a bird-safe glass called ORNILUX, but they have not released specifications of their glass such that I could compare it to those signals I have prepared, nor have they formally published in peer-reviewed scientific journals the effectiveness of their glass in deterring bird-window collisions. In advertising literature, they have described laboratory tests that they claim have produced effective deterrence.  

"I continue to work on this topic, gathering evidence of bird kills at windows worldwide, and by whatever means possible trying to encourage CPFilms and glass manufacturers to invest in products for commercial sale to save more bird lives from windows.

"As important a group to educate on this conservation issue are architects and other building professionals, so that they will create market demand for bird-safe windows and further convince glass manufacturers that such a product is worth their effort, from their commercial sale perspective and for the environmental ethic perspective; that is, the promise such products have to annually save billions of bird lives the world over."

The experiments reported by Dr. Klem in the current article, also indicate that "strike frequency at intensely monitored sites is likely to be incomplete and conservative because some impacts may not leave any evidence of a collision. Moreover, predators and scavengers may have removed some casualties that were not detected."

"Continuous monitoring of windows revealed one in four bird strikes left no evidence of a collision after 24 hrs and, without continuous monitoring, 25% of bird strikes were undetected," according to the abstract of the article titled Preventing Bird-Window Collisions which describes in detail the rigorous scientific methods used to determine the professor's latest findings.

Dr. Klem has published numerous scientific and popular articles on this subject since 1976, and continues to investigate this world-wide problem.

25 June 2009

Ample Rainfall Nourishes West Table Playa Wetlands

Rainfall amounts in excess of an inch that were spread about Custer County a few days ago have been a boon for the playa wetlands of the West Table.

"These pictures do not capture the size nor number of the playas, there are so many, it is outstanding!" said Maxine and Ed Wehling, residents of the area. "We had tornadic activity near us, around the Arnold area, to our west about 20 miles. We received 1.20" of rain, and no damage" at our vineyard.

The following are the rainfall amounts for June 24th reported to the National Weather Service office at North Platte. Each measurement was the 24-hour rainfall furnished by an observer for the Nebraska Rainfall and Information Network.

0700 AM     HEAVY RAIN       10 SW ANSELMO           41.52N 100.00W
06/24/2009  M1.07 INCH       CUSTER             NE   PUBLIC

0700 AM     HEAVY RAIN       1 W SARGENT             41.64N 99.39W
06/24/2009  M1.03 INCH       CUSTER             NE   PUBLIC

0700 AM     HEAVY RAIN       6 SSW BERWYN            41.27N 99.54W
06/24/2009  M1.02 INCH       CUSTER             NE   PUBLIC

0700 AM     HEAVY RAIN       8 NE OCONTO             41.22N 99.65W
06/24/2009  M1.54 INCH       CUSTER             NE   PUBLIC

0700 AM     HEAVY RAIN       2 N BROKEN BOW          41.43N 99.64W
06/24/2009  M1.03 INCH       CUSTER             NE   PUBLIC

0700 AM     HEAVY RAIN       ARNOLD                  41.42N 100.19W
06/24/2009  M1.38 INCH       CUSTER             NE   PUBLIC

The recent rainfall event continues the regular precipitation that the Wehlings have noted for the past month.

The playa wetlands "have been energized for the last month or more, as we have had consistent, ample rains," the Wehlings said, and provided some photographs to illustrate the water conditions.

A playa wetland just south of the Wehling Vineyards, shown in the background. A pair of ducks is present on the water in the second image. Last month, two Great Blue Herons stayed for about a week or more in this playa, the Wehlings said.

The Great Blue Herons also used this playa, just west of the playa shown in the two previous photographs.

"A portion of the large playa that supported the whooping crane pair this past April, 2009. In the background, is a cell tower to the left, and to the right is a MET(eorological) tower British Petroleum Alternative Energy had installed in the 2005-2006 time frame."

Looking to the southeast. In the background is one of the MET towers BPAE had installed in April, 2009 to analyze the wind conditions.

24 June 2009

Importance of Forest Restoration Explained in Ruffed Grouse Publications

"In its continuing efforts to educate sportsmen and other conservationists on the importance of proper forest stewardship and the need for a diversity of both young forest and old forest species, the Ruffed Grouse Society has made available two of its highly regarded publications."

Each article explains changes that have occurred to forests in the eastern U.S., and what this has meant for wildlife, notably birds, that rely on early-successional stages of habitats that will eventually transition into mature forests.

One of the articles is "The Other Silent Spring: Disappearing Birds of Young Forests by Steven Backs, a wildlife research biologist, with the Indiana Fish and Wildlife Department of Natural Resources. The article was featured in the Summer 2009 edition of the Ruffed Grouse Society magazine."

"Three birds [the American woodcock, the ruffed grouse and the whip-poor-will]...are 'coal mine canaries' telling us by their absence that young forest habitats are quickly disappearing," Backs wrote. "Are we listening? Do we hear the emptiness? Will we listen?."

The second publication is newly issued Placing Wildlife at Risk by Ignoring Ecological Principals: The Need to Manage Public Lands," by Dr. Michael Zagata, RGS Executive Director and CEO.

"... many Eastern forest birds dependent on disturbed or early-successional forest or natural disturbance (including pine barrens) are suffering consistent and troubling declines. Those birds in decline include golden-winged warbler, whip-poor-will, prairie warbler, Eastern towhee, and field sparrow, and popular game species such as Northern bobwhite and American woodcock," Dr. Zagata wrote in his eight-page, illustrated report.

The "State of the Birds" report issued a few months ago by the North American Bird Conservation Initiative, was an important reference used to prepare this report.

"The RGS urges every upland bird hunter, bird watcher and conservationist to take the time to learn the principals as they relate to the species we care so much about. Too often well meaning individuals and organizations favor mature trees over seedlings and saplings without understanding the consequences."

Both documents are in PDF format.

"Established in 1961 the Ruffed Grouse Society is the one international wildlife conservation organization dedicated to promoting conditions suitable for ruffed grouse, American woodcock and related wildlife to sustain our sport hunting tradition and outdoor heritage."

Maine Report Evaluates Coastal Avian Resources and Wind Turbine Siting

With the great interest in developing wind power generating facilities off the coast of Maine, there is an increased concern about what impacts may occur to birds and bats.

A newly released report, by Wing Goodale and Tim Divoll, issued by the BioDiversity Research Institute, was prepared to "aid the Maine Ocean Energy Task Force in selecting test sites for offshore wind turbines and the development of a permitting process," according to the report, titled "Birds, Bats and Coastal Wind Farm Development in Maine: A Literature Review."

"This is the first known review of how the European literature can help with best siting of marine wind farms in Maine," said Goodale. "There has been great interest in what has been learned in Europe and how that can be applied to Maine."

"With the strong momentum to develop renewable energy from offshore wind power in Maine, BioDiversity Research Institute prepared this literature review to summarize what European scientist have learned about how birds can be impacted by marine wind farms. We hope that this report will aid policy makers with their tough decisions on where to site turbine test areas as well as large scale commercial wind farms. Additionally, the scientific papers reviewed in the report provide critical information on how to significantly reduce impacts to birds and how to mitigate the loss of habitat and collision mortality that may occur."

The review "summarizes the areas of potential impacts, monitoring methodologies, adaptive management options, and types of mitigation while providing some Maine-specific recommendations. This review is primarily focused on the literature of marine wind farm impacts in Europe, although there are some references to terrestrial studies that may apply to offshore development."

"For many of the species of concern in the state there is very good information on where the birds breed, prepare for migration, and forage during the winter," Goodale said. "There is however, poor information on the daily movements of the birds flying from roosting and foraging areas as well as migration corridors. Consequently, research needs to start today on the foraging and migration patterns of Maine birds."

Map showing a ranking of bird use along the Maine coast. Courtesy of the BioDiversity Research Institute.

The report used numerous sources of information to prepare a map which illustrates a preliminary ranking of bird use at different locales. "The data is primarily from Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service," Goodale said.

The following are some examples of species of critical concern that occur along the coast of Maine, according to report findings:

  • "Seabirds: ca. 7,500 pairs common terns, 4,300 pairs Arctic terns, 200 pairs roseate terns, 920 puffins
  • "Purple Sandpipers: 2/3 of North American population winters in Maine, mostly in Penobscot Bay (7-10 thousand)
  • "Harlequin Duck: ca. 1,300 of the 1,800 North American population winters in Maine. Ca. 900 are in outer Penobscot Bay.
  • "Eagle Nests: ca. 40% of the state’s nests are along the coast
  • "Shorebirds: Gulf of Maine is the most important southern migration staging area on the East Coast

"Throughout the scientific literature there are three consistent conclusions," according to the review of research:

1) "Proper siting of wind farms can significantly reduce avian impacts;
2) "Pre-construction baseline survey work is critical to ensure proper siting; and
3) "There is great site, species, season, and weather variation."

Several management strategies can be used to reduce potential negative impacts to bird populations, according to the report:

  • "Develop monitoring protocol to record impacts for adaptive management and mitigation because greatest impacts can be from only a few turbines
  • "Use radar to detect migrating birds and turn off turbines during poor weather
  • "Make the turbines more visible to birds
  • "Align turbine arrays to allow for bird movement
  • "Ensure proper lighting to avoid collisions (as little as possible, white better than red)"

"Because of the complexity of these issues, and the necessity to make decisions based on existing data that in many cases is limited," the report recommends "the formation of a Bird and Bat Advisory Board that can assist Maine law makers with the difficult decisions on where to site both test and large-scale commercial facilities." It would be comprised of scientists from federal, state, and nongovernmental organizations "that would assist in identifying test sites, and develop a monitoring protocol and conduct pre-construction monitoring at the proposed test sites."

"As Maine works developing offshore wind and wind on Maine islands, there is the need for the formation of a Bird and Bat Advisory Board," Goodale said. "There is such complexity on how different birds will be potentially affected, only a group of the State’s top bird scientist will be able to help guide how to minimize impacts."

23 June 2009

Waterfowl Nesting Delayed at Hudson Bay

Waterfowl researchers working in the La Perouse Bay region have reported that a late season thaw and extensive flooding of habitat is causing an extreme delay in nesting.

"Nesting habitat in the historic La Perouse Bay region is 95% under water, said Dr. Robert Rockwell, who has directed a snow goose research program at La Pérouse Bay for nearly 25 years. Some of the water is "over-the-wader deep."

"There are some birds sitting on warm eggs in the Peter's Rock and lakes district," he said in an email report. "The modal numbers of eggs in the existing nests is two."

"Floating eggs leads to a projection of first hatch on July 8, 2009. Assuming a five day window like 1983, it suggests mean hatch on July 10, three days later than the previous record of July 7, 1983."

"There many pairs sitting around that are not on nests. The Blue Poles area is under flood water."

The "hatch will be quite protracted as one traditional area is under flood water with no nests - but pairs. The Thompson Point region was under 100% snow and ice" on June 14th. "There were many pairs in that region as well."

"Regardless of hatching success and clutch size, there will be minimal productivity from this colony this year as there will simply not be enough time for goslings to hit the dzubin weight required to migrate and survive," said Dr. Rockwell, with the Department of Ornithology, American Museum of Natural History.

Researchers are continuing to assess the nesting activities of the waterfowl, and will be trying to determine the "mean projected hatch" to indicate how the breeding season will fare.

La Perouse Bay is near Churchill, Manitoba, on the western shore of Hudson Bay. There are several researchers on the Hudson Bay Project Team.

Information posted by the Boreal SongBird Initiative also indicate the mid-June icy conditions present about Great Bear Lake, as well as Labrador and northern Quebec.

21 June 2009

Expedition Denotes Birds of Coastal North America ca. A.D. 1500

In May 1497, as Joan Caboto Veneciano of Italy, set sail under the moniker of John Cabot for an unknown world beyond the western horizon, there wasn't any map to guide what might be found, nor anything to indicate some particular destination.

[John Cabot painting from Wikipedia]

Painting of John Cabot.

Despite having an unknown route, the expedition set forth from a lively European port. English King Henry VII supplied the monies for eatable grub and wages for a hearty crew of sailors that could continually work the ship's sails needed for ongoing forward movement, for costs to outfit transport to traverse an uncharted ocean for unknown and ongoing months, and other miscellany essential for an oceanic voyage of A.D. 1500.

News had spread across Europe of vivid accounts from the journey by the celebrated Christopher Columbus - traveling overseas in 1492 - and secondary explorations by familial relations at new worlds of the middle Atlantic. Accounts conveyed a profound, dominating interest in a vast unknown territory across the Atlantic Ocean. What riches might be found - or plundered - for an unknown economic advantage? Perhaps a northwest route across the oceanic waters might be a passage to the riches of Asia. Might some route provide new commerce and great profits - in the various denominations or currencies of the era - for sea-based trade?

When the crew of the accomplished ship Matthew set anchor in shallow coastal waters, weeks after setting sail westward across the great ocean, Cabot was a first known European to reach the mainland northern America.

It was a latter-June day when explorer Cabot claimed territory under the auspices of King Henry VII, whilst at some beach-front along the northeast Atlantic coast. This place had not been visited previously by someone from Europe so apparently it was a place new visitors would claim without regard for residents that already lived there. The local people didn't know that a new identity was being imposed upon places that were a essential for their their continued existence, with local affairs of state or warfare or other domineering activities used as a means of control, instead of any basis from someone that walked on a beach and made a dramatic proclamation for the benefit of themselves and others eastward in some foreign country. Matters were based on local action and influences, not on grandiose words of spoken importance.

[Replica of the Matthew; from Wikipedia]

Replica of the Matthew. Both images courtesy of Wikipedia.

The site of land-fall was apparently in the vicinity of Vinland, and supposedly at the Island of St. John, according to historic accounts.

The local people dressed in skins of unidentified animals. There were many great white bears.

"There are also in this country dark-coloured falcons like crows, eagles, partridges, sandpipers, and many other birds of different kinds," according to published accounts of the hearty voyage across the great and perilous northern seas.

The ship continued its travels northward trying to find unhindered - that would be ice-free waters - upon which to continue sailing, but the boat was thwarted by ice-laden waters that stopped their progress. As they could not continue, the route was revised and sails were hoisted to sally forth for their home port in Europe.

Cabot returned to England, and was recognized as a here, and named an Admiral in the Royal Navy. A second voyage with five ships - based on the first instance of success - was quickly undertaken to supposedly find Japan. There are no chronicles which have been found to denote this important effort in the history of the times.

With reports of Cabot's success, explorer Gaspar Corte Real, the third son of the governor of the island of Terceira in the Azores, left Lisbon after being sent by King Manuel I to explore the northwest Atlantic in 1500. The voyage successfully returned after discovery of the Norse land.

On a subsequent voyage in the spring of 1501, Gaspar's brother Miguel was an essential person of the voyage. The three ships reached north Atlantic waters choked by "enormous masses of congealed snow floating" on the water and were soon stopped at the frozen sea.

After a few more seasonal months sailing along the north coast of Vinland, in late summer or early autumn, they reached a "very great country, which they approached with the greatest joy." This was the east coast of the land green with tall forests. There were "delicious fruits" and great trees to provide masts for ships. The men lived by hunting animals and fishing, according to historic accounts. Stags with long hair provided food, skins for clothing, houses and boats, according to the written narratives. There were wolves and sables.

"They affirm that the peregrine falcons are so numerous that it appears to me to be a miracle, like those in our country." This was the sole mention of birds present at the western lands across the great ocean.

Fifty locals were captured and then taken as prisoners back to Portugal, when two of the ships of the expedition returned to Lisbon in mid-October.

The single ship with Gaspar Corte Real sailed south to explore further, and was lost as it was not heard from again.

A letter written to Hercules d'Este, Duke of Ferrara gave the Portuguese prince details of the visit to the new found land. Miguel Corte Real made a voyage in 1502 to find his lost brother, but did not return either.

Scarce Bird Notes are an Enduring Legacy

This voyage of great interest because of it being among the first to navigate amongst the Atlantic coast of northern America, does however provide but a few bird notes.

Eagles which were black-colored could have been the Bald Eagle, though there is no way to suitably interpret the text to this degree. Dark-coloured falcons could have been either the Gyrfalcon or Peregrine Falcon. Hawks, black like ravens could have been several potential species. The partridges? These were probably some species of ptarmigan. There would have been several types of sandpipers along the coast where the brave sailors endeavoured to visit. And unidentified birds has a huge possibility for the actual species.

Narrative reports for these expeditions are important for their mentions of birds so early in the record of historic ornithology for the continent, not for the details of species. Though there are few records, the lore of the era is conveyed by the efforts of the men braving the elements on their small ships to explore and find new land at the western extent of the Atlantic Ocean. Men died for the explorations.

The only particular species identified was the Peregrine Falcon, from the latter voyage.

Swift's Industrial Setting at 43rd Avenue and Izard Street

Upon arrival on the bicycle from down the hill, there were first the super-fine aerial antics of three nighthawks against the lessening blue.

Robin and nighthawk scene of the evening from the front stoop of industry. Also about were grackles prominent in their black, going southward. Starlings seen once in awhile a couple of times, flapping along to where they were going.

Such expression in the skies. Here and there the swifts flit about. How sweet as they convey such special aerial thrills so smoothly shown with their inherent acrobatic skills.

Threes and twos. Then small bunches focus into their towering roost. Above is still the flap-quick-pause - repeated again and again - of the nightjar beholding to some local roof-top?

More bug-eaters gather and swoop together into and beyond a distinct sunset. Such splendor they convey during another Friday evening.

First one in at dusk, solely for a while. Then a companion, and after so many more twitters - by birds against the blues of the encroaching night - there is the swift drops of each bird into the brick shelter of the night. One, than a few at the prominent east chimney over there on Izard Street. Down the shoddy street to the west, and a bit off into the south, near the enticing horizon many more were gathered about that subdued, and obviously beneficial stack of aged bricks.

Most of the swifts roosted in that place over beyond a first place of repose to get views. A few than a bunch and more gathered, and some of the swift also came about and some then others disappeared into the unseen recess of the Qwest maintenance facility, on the west side of 43rd Avenue, at Izard, upon a height over Cuming.

Chimney scene along Izard Street, midtown Omaha.

Count details indicate a half-dozen or so into the chimney first watched, then at least 92 into the west place, which brought its own version of undivided attention to see an obviously well-done display of diving, one bird, then one bird, each one that followed at its chosen time. Then a splurge of several to get the gathering well underway, and until the whole bunch were getting settled together in the depths of the chimneys, here and elsewhere not seen.

The local evening's exhibition was finished by 9:15 p.m., after sense and nuance.

19 June 2009

Public Comment Sought on Plan to Reduce Predation on Terns and Plovers

A potential plan to protect populations of two threatened or endangered species by controlling predators is being considered by the Army Corps of Engineers.

"The plan describes actions that would be taken to reduce predation on two bird species, the federally endangered interior population of Least terns (Sterna antillarum (athalassos)) and the federally threatened Northern Great Plains population of Piping Plovers (Charadrius melodus (circumcinctus))," according to draft documents now available for public review and comment.

"Of the nests monitored by the Corps on the Missouri River between 1999-2008, predators have been directly identified in the loss of 5.1% (292/5,716) of Piping Plover nests and 6.7% (336/5,052) of Least Tern nests," according to Corps studies.

Four objectives are given for plan to manage predation, according to the draft environmental assessment:

  • "Increase the productivity of least terns and piping plovers by reducing the loss of eggs and chicks to predation and reducing the number of adults that are lost or driven away due to disturbance by predator species
  • "Identify tools available to reduce predation on least tern and piping plover eggs, chicks, and adults
  • "Provide guidelines for the implementation of management actions
  • "Provide a process for the evaluation of the effectiveness of predator management in achieving objectives and to make modifications to the plan as needed"

Region where the predator management plan would be implemented. Image from the Corps of Engineers draft environmental assessment.

Various being considered by the plan include exclusion cages, exclusion fences, hazing, and removal of four species: coyotes, raccoons, mink and great horned owls.

"Predation management actions could occur any time during the nesting season, which runs from May 1-August 15, but because predation pressure is greatest in July and August, most actions would occur during those months," according to the draft plan.

"Proposed management actions in the plan include the use of exclusion cages and exclusion fencing to protect nests and hazing of predators with audio or visual frightening devices to deter predators away from nesting sites. Lethal and non-lethal removal of target individual predators that have the greatest impact on least tern and piping plover nests and chicks, particularly raccoons (Procyon lotor), coyotes (Canis latrans), mink (Mustela vison), and great horned owls (Bubo virginianus), would also occur. Mammals would be lethally removed while great horned owls would be non-lethally removed by relocation to a new area except in North Dakota, where avian predators are required to be euthanized rather than relocated."

About a dozen agencies and organizations would be cooperators in the predation management plan.

Public comments are being accepted until July 1st. The Draft Environmental Assessment for Predation Management Plan for Least Tern and Piping Plover Habitat along the Missouri River and Draft Predation Management Plan for Least Tern and Piping Plover Habitat along the Missouri River can be downloaded from a Corps website.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - under the Endangered Species Act - listed the interior population of the Least Tern as endangered on June 27, 1985 and the northern Great Plains population of the Piping Plover as threatened on December 11, 1985.

The Corps’ Least Tern and Piping Plover management strategy, currently:

  • Increases the amount of available nesting habitat for least terns and piping plovers by constructing new sandbars or removing vegetation from existing sandbars Predation Management Plan for Least Tern and Piping Plover Habitat along the Missouri River
  • Protects nests from rising river or reservoir levels by moving nests to a higher location or raising the nest at the existing location
  • Relocates chicks on sandbars that may be inundated due to rising river levels to higher sandbars or constructs platforms to provide shelter for the chicks
  • Protects nesting sites from human disturbance by placing restriction signs on sandbars and beaches warning the public of endangered species

The Corps maintains a Least Tern and Piping Plover Data Management System with regular updates during the breeding season.

18 June 2009

Vast Arctic Park Established at Novaya Zemlya, Russian Republic

[Map of Novaya Zemlya from seabird report]

The Russian government has established an "arctic park" of 1.5 million hectares (ca. 3,706,580 acres or 5791 square miles) on the northern part of Novaya Zemlya island, in the Arctic Ocean between the Barents and Kara Seas.

The World Wildlife Fund, which announced the designation, "has long been lobbying for the park, which is also a key area for walrus, wild reindeer and bird population. The park creation excludes all industrial activities."

“This is exactly the sort of thing we need to see from Arctic governments,” said Neil Hamilton, Director of WWF's International Arctic Programme.

The area has long been recognized for its variety of birdlife, with one historic report for an 1895-1897 expedition.

An 1881 article by Captain H.W. Feilden, had additional notes on the historic ornithology. On the return of Captain A. H. Markham, R.N., from a cruise in Barents Sea and to Novaya Zemlya during the summer and autumn of 1879, he placed in my hands, for examination, his ornithological collection, consisting of some sixty well-preserved birds' skins, comprising twenty-six different species."

The text includes a detailed list of species noted at Lystina Island.

The remote place has been a haven for a number of bird species, and was the focus for another survey of resident seabirds in 1994 and mid-1995. Reports were issued for the two joint Norwegian-Russian expeditions to census seabirds, illustrated with scenes of the area.

In 1994, survey work was done between July 28 to August 16, and 34 bird species were documented (5.97 mb pdf file).

In 1995, "The field work was carried out in Gribovaya Bay and Bezymyannaya Bay in the period July 21 to August 2." There were 27 or 28 species of birds noted with detailed notes on seabirds presented (6.22 mb pdf file).

The diversity of birds was one reason for the establishment of the new park.

The WWF noted that the "protected area is smaller than the 5 million hectares initially planned."

“Despite the fact that the Russian Arctic Park is our big achievement, we’re sorry that not all planned territories were included in the park area,” said Oleg Sutkaitis, head of the Barents Sea Ecoregional Office for WWF Russia.

“Franz Josef Land and Victoria Island were crossed out from the project, but we will now work on widening the park’s borders.”

Silver Bay, West Coast, Novaya Zemlya. A view from the 1890s.

"When announcing the park, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said he hoped it would be a major attraction for tourism, and announced that he personally plans to vacation there."

17 June 2009

Bird-motif Design in Crop Field at Barbury Castle, UK

Design of bird-motif glyph in a crop field in the United Kingdom. Image replicated based on aerial photograph.

Another new design that dramatically appeared in a barley field at Barbury Castle, in the United Kingdom had caused quite a stir among the aficionados of crop circles.

After the presentation of a profound and intricate "phoenix" design on June 12th, near the splendid, dragonfly of a few days earlier, just two days after the "fire-bird" the simple but elegant "Aztec Spirit Bird" appeared.

There has been a hearty discussion of this design, with additional graphics presented that conform the design with a Mayan motif, and suggesting connections with the Mayan calendar, projected to end a cycle in December 2012.

Other comments correlate the design with the "thunderbird" motif of Native Americans.

In a review of historic rock art and petroglyphs for North America, there were no direct similarities. There are similar themes in the simple design features of a beaked bird and outspread wings.

The general aspect of the design in the UK field is very similar to the simple lines used in portrayals of birds in the historic designs known to occur in North America.

Whatever the considerations, the design is especially unique and special, fitting in with the naturalistic motif of other recent designs. Although its particular message is open to a myriad of perspectives, the presentation of such a wonderous and dramatic, large bird design is worthy of the attention and consideration.

Gyrfalcon Nest-sites Used for Millenia in Greenland

An interesting article published in Ibis documents how nesting Gyrfalcons in Greenland have been using the same nesting sites for thousands of years (in one case) and for several hundred in a couple of other instances. The BBC reported on the article.

Gyrfalcon Falco rusticolus post-glacial colonization and extreme long-term use of nest-sites in Greenland



Gyrfalcons Falco rusticolus use the same nest-sites over long periods of time, and in the cold dry climate of Greenland, guano and other nest debris decay slowly. Nineteen guano samples and three feathers were collected from 13 Gyrfalcon nests with stratified faecal accumulation in central-west and northwest Greenland. Samples were 14C dated, with the oldest guano sample dating to c. 2740–2360 calendar years (cal yr) before present (BP) and three others were probably > 1000 cal yr BP. Feather samples ranged from 670 to 60 cal yr BP. Although the estimated age of material was correlated with sample depth, both sample depth and guano thickness gave a much less reliable prediction of sample age than use of radiocarbon dating on which the margin of error was less. Older samples were obtained from sites farther from the current Greenland Ice Sheet and at higher elevations, while younger samples were closer to the current ice sheet and at lower elevations. Values for δ13C showed that Gyrfalcons nesting farther from the Greenland Ice Sheet had a more marine diet, whereas those nesting closer to the ice sheet (= further inland) fed on a more terrestrial diet. The duration of nest-site use by Gyrfalcons is a probable indicator of both the time at which colonization occurred and the palaeoenvironmental conditions and patterns of glacial retreat. Nowhere before has such extreme long-term to present use of raptor nest-sites been documented.

16 June 2009

Apparent Success for Rat Eradication at Aleutian Island

After a thorough survey of Rat Island, officials have found no sign of the Norway rats that had been present since they were introduced about 1780 when a Japanese ship wrecked on the beach, and the rats invaded.

"So far, no living rats have been observed," said Bruce Woods of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, noting that seven observers walked the island looking for any indication of surviving rats. "We’re cautiously optimistic, but it’s a big island. It would be presumptuous to assume that we would have noticed rats if only a few were left."

A monitoring camp was established by biologists at the island on May 26, with results of the surveys reported June 10.

During the survey, several bird species, including Aleutian Cackling Geese, ptarmigan, Peregrine Falcons, and Black Oystercatchers were observed nesting on the ten-square-mile island.

The island will be surveyed again next year, before it is considered rat-free.

The goal was to restore the populations of seabirds and other parts of the native ecosystem.

"Restoring the natural habitat will likely bring back Tufted Puffins, Storm Petrels, Song Sparrows, Glaucous-Winged Gulls, Ancient Murrelets, and so many other important breeding seabirds," according to project sponsors. "Overall, the project will benefit at least 26 species of breeding birds, including at least 13 seabird species, some of which currently breed in small numbers on Rat Island or are restricted to breeding on small offshore islets."

Rat Island – comprising 6,861 acres is not inhabited and is located in the Aleutian Island Chain about 1,300 miles west of Anchorage, Alaska - is part of Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. It was treated in September 2008 when helicopters dropped 100,000 pounds of poison bait to eliminate the invasive rats, which preyed on bird eggs, chicks and small adult birds.

The island received its name due to its population of the rodents (Rattus norvegicus).

The visiting biologists also found "157 juvenile and 29 adult glaucous-winged gull carcasses and a total of 41 Bald Eagle carcasses that appear to have died in recent months. Seventy-five percent of the eagle carcasses appear to be juvenile birds."

The specific cause of death for these birds was not known.

"Several of the gull carcasses found initially are now at the National Wildlife Health Center’s laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin, and it is estimated that information on the cause of death will be available by late June," according to project officials. "Eagle carcasses and tissue samples were picked up from Rat Island by the refuge ship Tiglax on June 10 and will be shipped to the Wildlife Health lab after the ship makes port at Adak on June 11.

"Field personnel are in the process of collecting additional tissue samples for study before destroying any remaining bird carcasses to eliminate any possibility of ongoing risk. Reports from the camp indicate that all bird species on the island except eagles are present in equal or greater numbers than were counted during pre-treatment surveys. Although adult and juvenile eagles are still present on the island, numbers of sub-adult eagles are lower than pre-treatment totals."

None of the bird deaths happened recently, and Fish and Wildlife Service officials pointed out the losses "will not significantly impact" overall Aleutian bird populations. The agency estimates some 2,500 eagles live in the Aleutians, with gull numbers far higher.

In early May, a Partners in Conservation Award was presented to Rat Island Restoration Project, by Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Department of Interior, for this eradication effort.

The $2.5 million Rat Island Restoration Project, a partnership among the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Nature Conservancy, and Island Conservation, began operations in 2008 after a two-year planning process. This included an environmental analysis by federal regulators, who issued a Finding of No Significant Impact on April 15, 2008.

"Rat Island is the third largest of 250 islands world-wide where rats have been eradicated," according to F.W.S. officials. 

15 June 2009

NPPD Rejects Proposal for Wind Turbines Among Custer County Wetlands

A proposal for a large wind-turbine development among the wetlands of western Custer County has been found to not be acceptable to the Nebraska Public Power District.

NPPD has determined that six proposals will receive further consideration, from the 22 that were received for evaluation back in April.

The "six proposals were determined to be the best in meeting NPPD’s criteria through a careful evaluation of financial, transmission availability, and environmental considerations," according to company officials. "All sites under consideration are located east of Broken Bow or in the Petersburg area for economic and environmental reasons."

The review process included discussions with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service "regarding environmental issues, including potential interference with migratory bird habitat, particularly the endangered whooping crane."

The development site in western Custer County - among the Central Table Playa wetlands – was opposed by state and federal agencies, as well as local landowners due to potential impacts to the crane, which regularly migrates through the area, and because of other impacts that could occur to the variety of migratory birds that occur.

For Ed and Maxine Wehling, who have actively worked in opposition to the proposed development, the decision brought a mixed reaction.

"While we are pleased at NPPD's decision to consider the migration corridor in Custer County, we do have reservations that BPAE will not let this project site go quietly."

British Petroleum Alternative Energy is the development company which had signed up leases for siting of the turbines about the Wehling’s residence.

In a related matter, a map showing areas with "sensitive" features such as birds or biologically unique habitats, was recently developed by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, and other officials.

"This map was designed to aid in planning for wind power development by identifying areas that are considered relatively more sensitive or less sensitive to such development, with respect to species of concern," the website summary states.

"This map does not serve as an environmental review as even in 'low sensitivity' areas shown, there will be specific locations where siting of wind power infrastructure can negatively impact significant biological resources (e.g. remnant tallgrass prairie, listed plant species, etc.)."

"Wind power and Nebraska's wildlife: An index of the sensitivity of wildlife habitats to wind power development, based on selected at-risk species" Map from NGPC online document.

Holy Union of Chimneys and Swifts at Rivercity

Among the urban scenes of the river city, there are the places which make swell haunts for the chimney swifts. Here and there are the brick chimneys of many character to provide a nesting site or a seasonal roost.

About Benson, it is a holy union. Spiritual bricks soaring to the heavenly realm are also blessedly important to some local swifts. There is another bunch of half a dozen down the alley. It is another church, with a third further east beyond the alleyway.

Benson Presbyterian Church.

St. Paul United Methodist Church.

Bethany Lutheran Church. All pictures taken June 14, 2009.

Ample stacks are part of the many other historic buildings in the business district, and it is an absolute phantasm of swifts along the way when peddling along the travel avenue.

Two views of chimneys of buildings in the Benson business district. June 14, 2009.

Around the former Military Theater, also now a church, there were swifts getting about as they are prone to do in the evening times. Some more - at least six - were about the big stack just north of Cuming Street, up around the corner there on ambling 45th street.

Aflight at Memorial Park there were two noted during an ample look at the horizon and darkening clouds from atop the hill with the big monument.

Appropriately, at Dundee there is during the day times a dynamic bunch of swifts coursing an urban scene with laudable loops and curls and dances on their wings against the azures of so much space above where they reside with aplomb.

Appearing regularly during the languid summer eves is a nice small flock of bugeaters in the skies above Carthage, with distinctive dogs barking in many yards as the sun settles in the west, and the occasional cars to lay a flow on the scene. There are at least four in this bunch, which usually includes antics with the typical animus of the local nighthawk.

Apparently there are many enclaves for the Chimney Swifts airborne at the eastern extent of the Rivercity, in the valley of the big muddy, out among and beyond the tall downtown and westward on the hills beyond Happy Hollow.

Assorted chimneys of architectural appeal amongst the built environment of these districts of streets and structures are of an infinite variety. The construction is of utmost importance to the bug-eating swifts at those places whence they always provide many appreciations when given some attentions.

Chimney-scape in the industrial area south of Walnut Hill school.

14 June 2009

Known Bird-strikes in Omaha Streak Past 500

The finding of three more bird carcasses on June 13 documents a known tally of 502 bird-strike occurrences in east Omaha.

The species found and the locales where they occurred are the usual places where bird strikes have occurred on a nearly continual basis during the months since May 2008.

A male Indigo Bunting was the first carcass found on Saturday morning - instance no. 500 - on the west side of the Qwest Center Omaha. Pictures were taken to show the situation where the carcass was languishing on the sidewalk.

Indigo Bunting that died from hitting the glass wall on the west side of the Qwest Center Omaha. Note the features of the locale apparent in the background, included to prove the location of the carcass. Picture taken June 13, 2009.

This carcass was not handled in any manner - nor are any of the dead birds noted taken into possession - to ensure that there was no violation of aspects of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Apparently it is supposedly not legal to handle or possess migratory birds. Only photographs were taken while at a public or semi-public situation, which is not illegal at this time.

A female Mourning Warbler found on the south side of the Union Pacific Center is instance no. 501. The carcass was left in situ upon the sidewalk, a public venue. Someone that works on the premises would therefore be responsible for its pickup and disposal.

This removal would apparently be a violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, since a permit is required to handle or possess a migratory bird and it would require that a carcass get picked to be thrown into the trash and would then be "in possession" of the person removing each dead bird.

Mourning Warbler struck dead by the glass at the Union Pacific Center.

Juvenile American Robin struck dead at the Harper Center, Creighton University.

A juvenile American Robin was another dead bird carcass - instance no. 502 - found on the south side of the Harper Center, a recently completed building on the campus of Creighton University. Someone will violate the MBTA when they pick up and throw away this carcass and any others on their grounds.

Each of the applicable violations have been ignored by federal officials of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency responsible for enforcement of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. There is obviously some type of discretionary application of the law, as there have not been any citations for bird strikes at Omaha, or elsewere.

There have now been at 502 known bird strikes in a 14-month period at Omaha. Additional occurrences are known to have occurred at the National Park Service building on the riverfront, but despite several requests for information last summer, they would not provide any information with details.

There have now been nearly 500 known violations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act during a 14-month period in Omaha, as the overall tally to consider cannot include the House Sparrow, European Starling or Rock Pigeon which are not covered by the MBTA.

Top 12 Locations for Number of Known Bird-strikes at Omaha

• Qwest Center Omaha - 162
• Union Pacific Center - 41
• Kiewit-Clarkson Skywalk - 38
• Central Park Plaza - 37
• 1200 Landmark Center - 35
• Holland Center for Performing Arts - 31
• Gottschalk Freedom Center - 22
• Zorinsky Federal Building - 16
• First National Tower - 14
• Omaha Public Power District Energy Plaza - 14
• Harper Center, Creighton University - 10
• Omaha World-Herald Building - 10

A bird-strike is defined as the finding of a disabled or dead bird at a particular place, with information kept since May 2008 on the bird species, date, and particular location.

Deadliest Buildings for Migratory Birds

Qwest Center Omaha is the deadliest locale, considering that the greatest number of known instances of bird strikes have occurred at this building, with nearly every one on the west side with a facade of reflective glass. There are 162 available records, which is about one-third of the overall number of known instances of bird strikes in east Omaha.

The Qwest Center Omaha is managed by the Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority, with Roger Dixon the ceo, and a management board that is also involved in some manner in decisions regarding the facilities. The organization has obviously done nothing to address the bird strikes, although they are certainly aware of the situation, as a Fish and Wildlife Service official met with them last year, and the staff of the facility clean up each carcass of every bird which now dies from striking the building glass.

There have been 39 instances thus far this year. Each strike is a violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Also, when staff pick up and dispose of a bird carcass, they are also violating a federal law by handling a migratory bird species without any legal authorization.

There has been no enforcement by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of these blatant, obvious and ongoing violations of federal law.

It seems somewhat ironic that the second carcass of the morning was at the Union Pacific Center, which has the dubious claim of being the second in the overall tally of known bird strikes. This company has also violated the Migratory Bird Treaty Act numerous times, through the taking aspect of the law and by handling the bird carcasses when they are thrown into the trash for disposal.

At Creighton University, the Harper Center - with its construction completed in 2008 - is an up-and-coming building in the ratings for bird strikes. There are ten known fatalities, with the first known instance in mid-September last year, with six instances through the end of the year, and four thus far this year.

The Durham Research Center is an up-and-coming place for bird strikes, located at the western extent of the "wall of death" which extends from Omaha's riverfront to the two structures that comprise the research buildings on the campus of the University of Nebraska Medical Center. The two towers, and a skywalk which connects to older buildings on campus may be new constructs, but the UNMC campus has an unknown legacy of bird strikes indicated by the recent finding of a dead robin beneath the skywalk between Wittson and Bennett Halls.

The Sorrell Center is another new building, with an associated skywalk and localized landscaping, which is a newly documented hazard where a Common Grackle was found dead due to the use of glass as an exterior wall.

It should be pointed out, that each instance of a strike is a violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, according to information received in several instances from federal officials.

Species Noted Most Often as Bird-strikes at Omaha

• Common Yellowthroat - 52
• Purple Martin * - 45
• Lincoln's Sparrow - 39
• Nashville Warbler - 36
• Common Grackle - 28
• Clay-colored Sparrow - 20
• Indigo Bunting - 20
• Mourning Warbler - 16
• Tennessee Warbler - 16
• Ovenbird - 14
• Mourning Dove - 11
• White-throated Sparrow - 11
• Dark-eyed Junco - 11

* Instances for the Purple Martin should be considered a localized occurrence as they gathered in multitudes at a roost in midtown, as they have not noted to strike any buildings elsewhere.

Variety of Birds Killed or Injured

More than 70 species are represented in the total tally for Omaha.

Warblers and sparrows are mostly represented in the list of species with the greatest number of bird strikes.

Bleak Future

Birds that are struck dead in Omaha due to the built environment - with ongoing development to occur - will continue and the hazardous situation for migratory birds is going to worsen.

There are buildings to be built which have features that are obvious hazards to the many, documented species which migrate through the area in spring and autumn, or breed in suitable places within the urban environs.

At Creighton University, construction is just starting on the Rasmussen building, with much of the exterior walls comprised of glass. The architectural rendering obviously show this. This structure is located within a block of the Harper Center, so those species which have been rendered dead at this place, will also occur nearby, so there will be an additional hazard.

Creighton officials have also been informed of the bird strikes more than once, yet there has been nothing done to address the problems.

Further west, at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, there is the pending Maurer Center for Public Health which is also shown to include prominent glass features. With the typical landscaping placed about the campus buildings, this place will also be a hazard, based on the combination of reflective glass and vegetation.

Rasmussen Center to be built at Creighton University. View from the southwest. Note the extensive use of glass!

Maurer Center for Public Health to be constructed at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Ongoing Agony of Death

The death or temporary disabling of each bird for the known - and unknown for that matter - is an individual agony of suffering which is being completely ignored by the multiple companies managing the buildings where the strikes occur again and again.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service which is responsible for enforcement of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act - which applies in each instance of a bird strike as it is considered taking - is also indifferent, as they have done nothing to stop the multitude of bird deaths, either in Omaha, in Lincoln where there have also been hundreds of birds strikes, and elsewhere across their jurisdiction in the United States.

When Robert Harms and June Deweese of the regional office at Grand Island were asked to comment on the deaths, they did not provide any reply.

Bird are going to continue to die - needlessly - with the extent unabated and basically thoroughly ignored! There is no "pro-environment" effort to conserve birds in Omaha, with the multitudes of deaths a definite "black mark" on any claim to being a "green city."

There were 500 bird strikes in 14 months. And the tally continues to climb ... as there were three more dead birds found on June 14th, and others will certainly occur with needless regularity.

Dead American Robin and House Finch on the south side of the Harper Center, Creighton University. June 14, 2009. When going past the west side of this building, another finch was heard hitting the glass but it appeared to be a glancing blow, as the bird was seen to fly away.