21 October 2009

Bird Strikes of One Day in Mid-October at Omaha Buildings

When the pre-dawn morning of October 20th arrived, the clock indicated it was 1.5 hours past the typical time to get up and get going, based on forays on recent days. The latter start was intentional as the birdly focus had changed somewhat in order to determine if Chimney Swifts were still present. More than 50 were seen on the evening of the 19th in the Memorial Park and Dundee area, and as it was late in the season for their ongoing residence in the river city, the intent was to be downtown during the early morning, so if any swifts were about, they could be seen and noted.

The mornings' outing was underway about 6:30 a.m., after doing regular duties around the house, including placing the recyclables bin on the curb, and putting out a very small bag of trash out front for the weekly removal. The yard waste container had been dealt with the evening before.

The survey route followed the typical route. Hard pedaling up the Cuming Street hill to 39th Street, then over to Burt Street and a relatively easy downhill ride to 30th Street and onward.

At the Harper Center on the Creighton University campus, there was a subtle indication of what was pending for this particular day. Calls of numerous birds were heard and some were readily seen.

Upon reaching the site of numerous previous bird-strikes at the southwest entry for the building, a bird was seen careening off the glass, but it continued onward.

Upon looking closely, there were no obvious carcasses, but it seemed appropriate to look closer. The result: a bug-eaten warbler of some sort on the south side of the building, at the windows just east of the entry.

The first picture of the day documented this bird strike occurrence.

There was another dead bird at the southeast corner of the same building. It was fresh and had probably happened very recently, perhaps just minutes earlier. Another picture was taken, including one of the carcass and the scene.

The morning's ride continued on the self-propelled bicycle.

At the Qwest Center Omaha, there was the normal uncertainty about the day's situation.

This morning, there were a bunch of sparrows on the north side at the north entry, with about five birds congregating against the glass at the northern entrance. Upon an approach, they all flew away. More of these birds were along the sidewalk just to the north, and they were chased about while looking at the situation, though they did not depart, instead they scattered but returned to the same place.

My route went southward along the west facade of this ugly place. There was a carcass noted, so my travels were stopped to document this, just seconds before the security man was there. His job was to throw away the dead bird, but I was there so he kept walking, apparently in communication with whomever he is supposed to report to.

Further south along the west facade of the deadliest building for birds in Omaha, there was another species of the same ilk. It was not dead, but disabled and just could not seem to find a means to get away. Assistance was rendered.

It seems that the dead bird patrol during the dawn hours at the Qwest Center Omaha will not deal with live birds, as they seem to remain. Perhaps the security guys have been instructed to leave them alone. At least this gives them an opportunity to recover and hopefully fly away and continue their migration.

It is the obvious intent of the management personnel associated with the Qwest Center Omaha to get rid of the dead birds in an attempt to make sure no one knows about the many bird strikes which occur at this building.

The morning's route went onward amongst the buildings of downtown Omaha.

There was a dead Lincoln's Sparrow at the Holland Center for Performing Arts. The day before there had been a lively discussion with a representative of the management group for this facility, but the bird that died certainly did not care about that rhetorical discussion.

One interesting comment: "We don't want to be like them," was said in reference to what was occurring at the Qwest Center Omaha, in regards to security men throwing birds into the trash.

The next spot of prominence for this day was the Union Pacific Center, at its north side. There were two disabled birds on the sidewalk and another appreciating shelter beside some bits of sidewalk landscaping.

Species noted here were a Nashville Warbler, a subtly-colored Orange-Crowned Warbler and a big American Coot that did its best to avoid having anything to do with the pedestrians on the sidewalk, though it was forced to move and make its own way.

The morning continued, thankfully without any harassment from any security force, which is prevalent in downtown at certain buildings.

On the west side of the Zorinsky Federal Building was a dead Lincoln's Sparrow, photographed while certainly being watched on the surveillance cameras mounted at each corner of the place. This documentary interlude was short enough so there was no confrontation. Though when an inquiry was made to get a name and phone number for the building manager, one guardian would not provide any details. Outside, another security man at least provided a name.

At the Omaha-Douglas Civic Center, another dead Lincoln's Sparrow was photographed, while two smoking females workers watched with some interest or another.

Onward to the east, at the Nebraska State Office Building and once again on the north side, were two more dead warblers. During the too-long interlude to take pictures, Bill, who formerly lived in Alaska explained the inane means of providing light and power to Bering Sea settlements, so some time lingering occurred.

Pictures were taken and a departure soon followed. One interesting tidbit was that the State of Nebraska leases the building which is owned by Kiewit, so they are responsible for the situation.

Across the street, there was a disabled Orange-crowned Warbler on the north side of the 1200 Landmark Center. A picture of the situation was taken for documentary purposes. Then, on the south side of the same place, was a dead Lincoln's Sparrow.

The morning was deadly, and it was obvious that a whole bunch of birds were moving southward in their autumnal migration. It was a condition that indicated that perhaps some places should be looked at again.

Onward the route went and the premonition was correct.

At the north side of the Union Pacific Center, there were two more disabled birds. One was a forlorn and suffering Ruby-Crowned Kinglet. The other was a species first unknown, but it soon became apparent that it was a Yellow-rumped Warbler that was clinging to the building's wall outside of where there was interior landscaping.

These two birds were not here for very long. It was interesting to be able to observe how strikes occurred at different times in the early morning. The prognosis is that the American Coot hit first. Then the warblers suffered a similar fate. And just a short time later, the Yellow-rumped Warbler and kinglet also struck the building because of the interior landscaping at this building.

The route of the day went westward a far ways, and there was another apparent carcass. It was a dead Lincoln's Sparrow on the campus of the University of Nebraska at Omaha campus at a site which had appeared to be a hazard. The situation was confirmed by the dead bird lying in the Tritsch Garden. This was the first known bird strike on the campus of the college.

With the numerous bird strike instances in the morning, it somehow seemed appropriate to check further into what was happening on this October day. It was a suitable decision to check out the situation later in the day, during the afternoon.

The first site visited resulted in seeing another dead Lincoln's Sparrow, at the southwest entrance for the Harper Center on the campus of Creighton University. This site is a regular hazard.

Just a short jaunt to the east, there was a carcass of an Orange-crowned Warbler and another of the Field Sparrow at the Qwest Center Omaha.

The day's activities ended as an ambassador to inform a public official about the multitude of bird strikes and the prominent hazards at the Omaha-Douglas Civic Center. He was informed of the several recent bird strikes and how the Migratory Bird Treaty Act pertains to the situation.

An email to the Fish and Wildlife was sent asking that they provide the building administrator with further information.

There were 20 known bird strikes, during what was obviously a bad day for migratory birds in the river city! Disabled and dead birds cannot speak for what they sorrowfully deal with. This account conveys what happened on one October day, and indicates the extent of hazardous conditions for migratory song birds along the Missouri River in east-central Nebraska.

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