04 September 2013

Nesting Bird Survey August 24 - Saddle Creek Project

Provided to Omaha Public Works; August 11, 2013. Presented here for archival and informational purposes. Surveys had to continue this late in the season due to conditions included with a permit received from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Pending tree removal by a contractor at the east Westlawn Cemetery site in association with the Saddle Creek CSO! project required that a survey be done in regards to any nesting birds, according to provisions of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

The following details are provided to the Public Works Department in accordance with an agreement to evaluate the indicated project site and determine if there were any bird nests present, or if there were other associated breeding bird concerns.

It should be noted that several previous bird surveys have been done around this area, which are helpful in understanding the conditions relative to the survey area features, and helpful in a recognition of species present.

Survey Methods

A survey for bird nests and/or young was conducted early on the morning of August 24th at the area indicated by the provided plan sheet and as marked on an aerial photograph.

Images provided by Omaha Public Works.

During the survey four methods were used to evaluate bird activity while the area was slowly traversed: 1) looking closely at both tree and understory vegetation within the immediate area; 2) watching and recording all birds present and evaluating their behavior; 3) listened for any bird vocalizations within the area and general vicinity; and 4) watched for bird activity that would indicate an active nest or adult birds feeding pre-flight young. Several stops were made at suitable vantage points to look and listen for bird activity. The majority of the survey was done before work activity associated with dirt hauling had started and which created noise that would make it more difficult to hear subtle bird sounds.

Survey Results

There were no nests or pre-flight young observed within the area of the indicated survey site.

General bird activity noted in the area did include:

  • American Robin: primarily adult birds, with a couple still retaining juvenile plumage.
  • Black-capped Chickadee: group of three foraging, with no begging behavior heard or seen that would indicate the presence of dependent young.
  • Blue Jay: foraging.
  • Eastern Wood-Pewee: only one bird, which sang for a few minutes but then was quiet; since this bird has only been seen along the creek on this and the last season, it is a bird which did not successfully nest, and so became transitory and arrived at suitable habitat at this site.
  • Great Horned Owl: flushed from a tree, with this birds nesting season done back in spring.
  • Mourning Dove: transitory, foraging in open areas, or flying over.
  • Northern Flicker: a single bird using snag trees.
  • Olive-sided Flycatcher: a migratory transient, perched atop a snag tree; the first time this species has been seen at this locale.
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker: a single bird using snag trees.
  • White-breasted Nuthatch: one foraging through the area.

There was more underbrush among this survey area, but no birds were seen or heard in these areas. Nothing at all was flushed.

Other species observed in the general vicinity also did not convey any nesting activities.

Birdly Notes

Additional cavity trees will be lost due to this tree-clearing; these trees have provided foraging, roosting and potential breeding activity. At one particular snag, with four or five prominent cavities, woodpeckers were at the dead tree. There was no use of the cavity observed, and no flurry of activity that would indicates adults feeding young, nor any noise to indicate young were present in the holes.

To provide a refugium for native flora and fauna, which can recolonize the project area once work is completed, any disturbance to the east branch of the creek should be minimized to the extent possible.

These pictures were not included in the report provided to Omaha Public Works. They indicate a snaggy cottonwood to be removed, as well as a "bum camp" and associated graffiti.