13 October 2012

Continual Deaths of Wildbirds Among Omaha Buildings

Misery and death for hundreds of birds continues unabated among the buildings in downtown Omaha, along the Missouri River in Nebraska.

On October 12, 2012 it was expressed once again on the 400th instance of personally documenting birds striking building windows. It was another chilly morning, when in the pre-dawn dark, a bicycle was ridden eastward up and down the hills, while avoiding incessant traffic to go around to sites where birds suffer or have met their untimely demise.

This particular Friday morning, four strike instances were found along the route of discovery:

1: a disabled Lincoln's Sparrow at the north-facing entry towards the south end of the west side of the Qwest/CenturyLink Center Omaha; it was during the time before 7 a.m., but it had already recovered enough to fly away before it could be photographed;
2: a disabled Hermit Thrush, sitting below an expanse of windows on the west of the Gottschalk Freedom Center, a building of the Omaha World-Herald newspaper; it was not bobbing its tail while recovering from being knocked senseless at the glass, and was stationary enough that pictures were easily taken;
3: a bit further along at the same buildings' wall of glass was a dead Grasshopper Sparrow at its southern end; this bit of bird-life was going south but its fate was as a carcass in the River City environs; and
4: a dead Orange-crowned Sparrow, mostly flattened by the entryway on the east side of the empty Law Building; someone had stepped upon the carcass, already dead upon the sidewalk.

Window strikes occur on a regular, recurring basis in Omaha. Since May 1, 2008, on a day of a slightly significant instance for another purpose, whence upon a bicycle ride about, there were dead birds on the downtown sidewalks. The result was and has been an exodus of investigation.

Following the results of the most recent outing of these times, there are 1376 records available which document window-strikes associated with 99 different species, for 178 different dates at 84 different buildings. And these are just the known instances.

The words of one sentence are quite insignificant in regards to the actuality of what has happened, again and again. Oh, and again.

The Common Yellowthroat and Lincoln's Sparrow are, sadly, represented in the tally more than any other species, since as of mid-October, for each species, there have been 150 known window-strike instances for the two species. Following in significance on the depictive list are the Purple Martin, Nashville Warbler and Common Grackle.

Every window-strike, especially when the result is a bird death, is a significant tragedy, mostly unknown. In the past five years, it has been an endeavor of discovery, which has been presented with a burden and has meant a focus of documenting the window strikes. So these instances have not been forgotten.

This commentary is based upon findings of 1456 particular records of window-strikes in Douglas County and Lancaster County (Lincoln) in Nebraska, where the initial realization of this sordid fate for unsuspecting wildbirds, started one morning at the latter place.

Every impact has been a tragedy of significance. Any sense of significance seems to depend upon an individual's perspective. Some building owners continue to resort to subterfuge and indifference to hid what is happening. At a couple of buildings, efforts have been taken to reduce any strike occurrence. Many others simply are not aware the features of their building are hazardous.

Mid-week, there had been an expectation for strike instances on the morning of the 10th day of October, but none were found. The situation was similar on the 11th, along the typical route. Thankfully there are days when no disabled or dead birds are found. These mornings of nothing convey that surveys have been done on many more than four hundred days.

Conditions in downtown Omaha cause an extensive and ongoing extent of window-strikes. And there are certainly other records, undocumented due to particular efforts to remove strike occurrences, especially now at the Holland Performing Arts Center, and formerly at the Qwest/CenturyLink Center Omaha.

It is an ongoing tragedy of the commons. It has been my privilege to recognize the misery, respond in favor of the birds, and to advocate for changes which might mean fewer tragedies at the glass.

There have been no other efforts to investigate the urban-scape to determine the extent of window strikes by birds.

The situation at Omaha is an ongoing tragedy of bird misery, and it being ignored is the second tragedy, as there are options, which need to be considered in a focused manner where there can be results for the birds, because though they have their own voice and expression, it seems to be mostly ignored by people that might make a difference.