13 August 2014

Omaha Civic Development Includes Bird Hazards

The development proposal selected by city of Omaha officials for the current Civic Auditorium site denotes several architectural features that are known hazards for many species of migratory birds.

This first image shows the Tetrad Property Group/NuStyle Development Corp. project as it would look from the east. There are obvious hazards as depicted in the architectural renderings.

  1. A 14-story tower of glass
  2. An extensive use of glass exteriors; this will probably be reflective glass that will convey a sense of a larger space
  3. A glass walkway connecting two different structures is obvious on the right side of the tower with a close association with landscaping; this appears it will be an especially dangerous facet of this place as it partially blocks a primary corridor
  4. Landscape trees interspersed along the periphery of the development site and spread throughout the site, in close proximity to glass exterior walls

Both images from documents provided by the City of Omaha

This second image illustrates the extent of hazards present throughout the entire 9-acre development. They include:

  1. An interior courtyard associated with the residential feature on the west side, near 19th street
  2. Numerous corridors within the buildings which have various shapes and configurations that will confuse and birds which get within the setting
  3. Extensive use of tree landscaping that will attract various migratory birds into a space where reflections of the vegetation lead to birds thinking there is another try to fly to, but instead it is just a reflection

The extensive use of glass mixed with landscaping and structure configurations and features match exactly those features which are known to lead to bird-window collisions and the deaths of hundreds of wild birds in downtown Omaha. It is the number of places that will present hazards within this site that is especially troubling about this project.

This project is expected to be completed in 2019.

Plans for this development convey it will have numerous places where bird death and injury could readily occur, and to an extent that will surpass any other building in the downtown area. Each occurrence of this sort will be a violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The MBTA "specifically addresses foreseeable and predictable threats to federally protected birds," according to expert Dr. Daniel Klem Jr., Muhlenberg College. "Based on four decades of detailed evidence in the form of objective scientific research addressing bird-window collisions, the planned structure and its surroundings qualify as an obvious foreseeable and predictable lethal hazard to birds, resident and migratory."

There are also hundreds of records which indicate that bird-window strikes are prevalent in Omaha.

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