01 May 2013

Five-year Evaluation of Bird Window-Strikes at Omaha

The morning of April 30th, 2013 was significant as it was the finale for a five-year period of investigating birds and window-strikes in Omaha, Nebraska.

It was another morning of the typical routine riding forth upon a well-worn but sturdy bicycle about sunrise time, going eastward up the long hill and then continuing beyond to North Downtown and then about the usual built places among the city, known to be hazards for migratory birds.

During the last six days, casualties were found on three mornings, those being Friday, Sunday and Tuesday when four instances were documented, represented by the House Finch, Brown Thrasher, Clay-colored Sparrow and White-throated Sparrow.

It was more experience associated with the sad deaths or injuries to unsuspecting migratory birds of the realm within the Missouri River valley.

Since this endeavor was started on May 1, 2008 during a pivotal, but relatively short time, about the sidewalks of downtown Omaha, more than 1425 records have been denoted. That morning of dead birds, when five instances were recorded, was the sordid basis for this investigation. The dead birds of that first day looking around the city streets were an American Robin, a Rose-breasted Grosbeak, a Yellow-rumped Warbler and two White-throated Sparrow.

So much has happened since that initial spring day. And yet, it is obvious how little has really been done to reduce the number of window strikes. My focus has been to look, record and consider appropriate details. This has included giving attention to other reports. Though they are small in number, they are still significant in their indication.

Most of the records kept have become an entry in a database. Each one is an eulogy for various species of so many sorts. More than 100 species are known to have been involved with window-strikes at various places within the confines of Omaha. There might be some further reports on the details ...

During this five years, there were 432 dates with pertinent records, with many more visits made when no victims were documented.

Dark-eyed Junco.

Brown Thrasher.

Each instance of finding a bird, either dead or disabled, as personally experienced, has been a singular, tragic event, so hard upon the spirit associated with wild birds, free and hearty in their environment.

The tally indicates window strikes occurred at more than 85 different buildings, with more than 100 species impacted.

The Qwest/CenturyLink Center continues to be the most hazardous building in the city, where birds die on a regular basis throughout the seasons of every year, and where there are 445 documented instances. Others at the top of the list and the number of records are:

  • 1200 Landmark Center: 110
  • Kiewit-Clarkson Skywalk:97
  • Holland Performing Arts Center: 96 though there are certainly more because they actively try to "hide" window strikes at this glass-walled structure
  • Union Pacific Center: 85
  • Central Park Plaza: 70

During the morning on the 30th, there were two bird deaths noted during the first of the morning bicycle survey.

A dead bird was found — not unexpectedly at the CenturyLink Center — to be the carcass of a Clay-colored Sparrow moribund on the concrete at the this building's west side, and a relatively short distance from its north corner.

During the remainder of this end of April outing, while being attentive to objects on the sidewalk at various places, the last fatality was at the Law Building. Here, a disabled bird was found on the sidewalk on the east side of this empty place. It was a White-throated Sparrow, which died within a few minutes. The last moments of its life were visually captured.

Clay-colored Sparrow.

White-throated Sparrow. This is a picture of the window which the bird struck.

There were no instances found on the morning of May 1st. If that would have been the situation six years ago, this endeavor would not have ever happened...

Any real value associated with this five-year investigation are still being pondered. What have the multitude of hours meant? The whole ordeal has been a panorama of tragedy of so many bird lives gone. Etc.

Results are none-the-less indicative, and that is sufficient to indicate that birds are always being killed by building owners in Omaha, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, continues to ignore an enforcement action associated with the regulations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which supposedly protects the species which die daily due to window strikes throughout North American.