27 May 2015

Warbler Abuse at First National Bank

A blatant act of bird abuse occurred at the downtown office building of the First National Bank early in the morning on May 27th. While bicycling about on the usual bird window strike survey, my route passed along the north side of the bank tower, by the atrium. A quick glance indicated there were no disabled or dead birds, so my travel continued. Upon looking back when a bit further along, there seemed to be a bird present near the east doorway of the atrium. A return to the location occurred just when an employee of the bank was present. He was seen using a broom to violently sweep the bird away from the doorway. The bird was moved 5-10 feet into the courtyard. Upon a close-up look, it was a female Common Yellowthroat. It had been disabled upon striking the glass of the atrium, and was trying to recover enough to leave the site, but was abused by the bank worker.

It is quite pathetic that an injured bird had to be treated as though it was some piece of unwanted trash.

The warbler was moved to a safer spot nearby, where it could recover without any further threats by pedestrians or anyone else.

This atrium is a known hazard to migratory birds due to its glass facade and the obvious presence of interior vegetation adjacent to the glass wall. There have been numerous bird window strikes here, and which bank officials are aware of. Yet they do nothing as birds continue to die. And their employee is an abuser of birds!.

26 May 2015

MECA Staff Possess and Dispose of Wildbirds

During recent weeks of surveys to determine the extent of birds hitting glass facades in downtown Omaha, there seemed to be a dearth of bird carcasses associated with the CenturyLink Center Omaha. Typically there are one or more carcasses or disabled birds found on a regular basis.

The reason there were have been no carcasses was finally determined, and was — as expected — because of staff working for the Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority. Morning's when they do their rounds to clean up trash, they also include bird carcasses. The dead birds are picked up and placed in a bucket on their cart as they continue along their route.

The morning of May 26th, upon approaching the north portion of the west facade of the center, one of two MECA workers was seen using "trash tongs" to pickup two bird carcasses and then place them into the bucket on their cart. Coming up to the cart, the worker was asked: "What kind of birds are those?" The response: "Yellow ones," confirms that the worker knew he was handling birds. Being nearly adjacent to the cart, a quick stop was made and the two carcasses were removed from the plastic bucket. They were two female Common Yellowthroats. Both carcasses were then suitably disposed of in a manner of respect for their natural origin, rather than being dealt with like a discarded styrofoam cup or errant piece of trash. The manner in which the MECA workers dealt with the birds killed at their facility is a crass manner of suitably dealing with the deadly tragedies, and shows a complete lack of respect for formerly vibrant wildbirds.

It is not known how the MECA staff deal with temporarily disabled birds which strike the western, glass facade of the facility. Are the staff workers aware enough or do they take the time to determine if a bird is alive but stunned, or is it treated as if dead. Disabled birds are often in a position similar to a carcass, as they try to recover to an extent where they can fly away. Grasping a bird with trash tongs may also be enough to kill it.

Numerous bird window strikes continue at the CenturyLink Center Omaha, despite the many decals placed upon the upper portion of the glass has not been efficiently effective in reducing the number of bird strikes, based upon findings last year.

There were four violations of the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act by MECA in association with the situation observed Tuesday morning, about 6:30 a.m. Each death of two warblers was a taking action. By picking up the carcasses and carrying them around in a plastic bucket, the workers had "possession" of the birds. It is illegal to possess birds without a permit.

This is just one instance of this sort of activity, as the MECA workers certainly have undertaken similar activity on multiple other days this spring, and during past times.

This situation was referred to law enforcement staff of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by other agency personnel.

There was apparently nothing done about this ongoing disposal of dead birds by MECA employees. Just as expected based upon the lack of action by the F.W.S.

24 May 2015

Omaha Companies Work to Reduce Bird Window Strikes

An article in the May 22nd Omaha World-Herald discusses steps taken by three companies to reduce the number of bird window-strikes associated with their buildings. Companies such as the Omaha Public Power District, Union Pacific Railroad and the Nebraska certainly deserve the recognition for taking active steps to help migratory wild birds. A special thanks to the reporter for her interest and effort to get this information into the newspaper, so others can read about it!

I would like to thank Shari and John for these kind words as posted on NEbirds...

"Subject: Hero for the birds
"Date: Fri May 22 2015 23:37 pm
"From: NEBirds AT yahoogroups.com
"Hello birders,

"Great news in today's Omaha World Herald! Union Pacific and OPPD have both agreed to mitigate migrating bird strikes on their huge office buildings thanks to the efforts of Jim Ducey. His dedication to saving the lives of the birds we love to watch is a difficult job that includes documenting dead and dying birds at dawn before building employees arrive to clean up the victims. The article encourages other businesses to consider turning lights off at night and minimizing the attraction of windows for birds. Maybe one of those Connecticut Warblers will survive the treacherous bi-annual journey long enough for us to see it! Huge thanks to Jim Ducey for giving us something to really celebrate for International Migratory Bird Month.

"Shari Schwartz & John Carlini, Lincoln"

22 May 2015

Migrating Golden Eagles to be Slaughtered in Ontario

Press release provided by Save the Eagles International, May 22, 2015.

In October/November each year, as snow covers their hunting grounds, golden eagles from Canada fly south to warmer climates in the United States. Those migrating from Northern Ontario and the western half of Quebec (all the way up to the Ungava Peninsula) must deal with a major obstacle: the Great Lakes.

Unlike sea gulls, large raptors won’t travel long distances over water if they can avoid it. They prefer to follow the shore till they find a convenient crossing point, such as Holiday Beach at the western tip of Lake Erie, where 93 golden eagles were counted over a migration period, and thousands of other raptors (1). Prince Edward County (PEC), a headland protruding southwards into Lake Ontario where it meets a string of islands leading to the US shore, is another concentration area: 60 golden eagles (GEs), 25 bald eagles, and 1,100 raptors were counted there on a single day, October 29th 2009 (1). The Species at Risk study, commissioned for the White Pines’ wind project on PEC, reports the sighting of four migrating GEs per day on average, which would come to 120 a month. “This is clearly the main flyway for this species”, comments the South Shore Conservancy (2). Indeed, the entire GE population of Ontario and Western Quebec is estimated to number no more than 250 birds. Equally alarming is this observation reported in the study: “most were flying at blade level” (2).

​Map showing the Prince Edward headland, the string of islands used by migrating birds to cross the lake, and the wind projects that will butcher them. Available at Ontario Wind Turbines

According to Parks Canada: the island chain is a migration corridor for birds. Over 12 million birds pass through this area each year (3). Before crossing the lake, large numbers of birds often congregate on the south shore of PEC, which is a designated Important Bird Area (4). Yet, two wind projects may soon be built within that “protected” area - Whites Pines and Ostander Point - and a third one is in waiting: Loyalist. If this is not a premeditated crime against migrating birds, what is? These are indeed "protected" under Canada's Migratory Birds Convention Act and the international Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

The Ontario government state on their webpage (5) that the conservation status of the Golden Eagle in Ontario is “endangered”: “the species lives in the wild in Ontario but is facing imminent extinction or extirpation”. They also acknowledge that “during migration they (GEs) … are most frequently seen migrating west along the shores of Lake Ontario and Erie in November”. “In the fall of 2008, several stations on Lake Ontario and Erie reported more than 50 (GEs) in one day”. Finally, the risk of collision is acknowledged, if grudgingly: “collisions with wind turbines have been documented at some sites”.

The “some sites” they refer to are those rare wind farms where monitoring of bird mortality has been performed. At most wind plants, where no monitoring is done, no carcasses are found, or at least reported, except on rare occasions. Windfarm employees are not keen on reporting what will hurt their employers, and their own jobs. Besides, eagle feathers, talons and beaks are worth money on the black market. But in spite of this cover up on eagle mortality, it has been documented that thousands of GEs have been killed by wind turbines (6). They are in fact attracted to them, as are ospreys and other raptors (7). This is why so many are getting struck by turbine blades, something that financial and political interests have been trying to hide, while proposing ineffective measures of mitigation or compensation (8).

Common sense demands that migration routes, bottlenecks and staging areas be spared by wind developers. The Ontario government agrees to this in its Golden Eagle Recovery Strategy: “It is recommended that provisions should be made to incorporate any future information gathered on migration corridors and stop-over sites (habitat used for resting, roosting and foraging during migration) for inclusion within a habitat regulation” (9).

This hasn’t been done, yet it has been known for years that PEC is a vital stop-over site for GEs and 12 million birds each year (3), and possibly for millions of bats as well. The Ontario government knows it, ornithologists know it, and so do bird watchers. There will be carnage, but the decision makers behave as if the developers' impact assessments were unbiased. In fact, this attitude is fairly common all over the world: conflicts of interest, i.e. corruption, pave the way for the destruction of our environment (10).

Once the wind projects are built (White Pines and Ostander Point, and later perhaps Loyalist, Amherst, Trillium Power Wind 1, Wolfe Island Shoals), "habitat regulation" will become meaningless. It will be too late. The massacre will begin.

We respectfully request the Ontario government to stop these projects.

Mark Duchamp, President


1) – golden-eagles-would-funnel-through-a-turbine-killing-zone-in-prince-edward-county
Of particular interest, the mention of a letter from the Ministry of the Environment which states: “An observation credited to Phil Taylor of 1100 raptors at Prince Edward Point Oct 29 2009, including 60 Golden Eagles and 25 Bald Eagles (BR Sec. 3.7, p. 3.9, para 6). These numbers are confirmed by David Okine, director of Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory.” Note: this is a one-day count.
2) - species at risk
3) - effects of wind turbines
wind turbines
4) - important bird area
Important Bird Area ”During fall migration, large numbers of raptors, both diurnal and nocturnal, move over the Point. Up to 2,000 hawks a day can regularly be observed including large numbers of Sharp-shinned, Red-shouldered, and Red-tailed Hawks.” And: “In total, some 298 species of birds have been recorded at Prince Edward Point with about 220 species being recorded during the average year. Most of these species are recorded during migration, although at least 74 species nest within the area. The number and diversity of landbirds that concentrate in this small area during spring and fall migration is outstanding.”
5) - golden eagle
golden eagle
6) - eagle mortality statistics
Note: these eagle mortality statistics were gathered by chance, and represent the tip of the iceberg. Besides, they haven’t been updated since 2006.
Some of the ospreys killed by wind turbines (tip of the iceberg)
Effects on red kites: (pages 96, 97).
7) - raptors attracted to windfarms
8) - covering up the massacre
9) - golden eagle
10) - Tax Agency uncovers alleged wind farm payoff scheme in Castilla y León

19 May 2015

Further Swift Chimney Losses in Omaha

Additional chimneys have been lost as habitat for the Chimney Swift in east Omaha. Both are along south 31st Street, between Dewey Park and St. Mary's Avenue.

Ekard Court was demolished during the past winter, and a new building is currently being built.

Records of swift use of either of the two chimneys once at 617 or 625 north 31st include:

  • 17 on 18 August 2003
  • 250 on 10 September 2005
  • 65 on 20 August 2013

The loss of both of these chimneys is a dramatic loss to the swifts which occur in this area of 31st and St. Mary's Avenue, especially with the loss of multiple chimneys at the Canterbury apartments.

Eradication of swift habitat is ongoing and pervasive.

To the north, the big chimney at the Monticello Apartment building has been recently capped, probably within the last year or so, since a 2013 aerial photograph shows an open chimney. This and the Mt. Vernon, adjacent to the south, were both built in 1922. The Mt. Vernon is more essential, but as apartment renovation in the area continues, it is very possible that new HVAC work will result in this chimney also getting capped.

The Mount Vernon (in the foreground) and Monticello (in the background) apartment buildings on south 31st Street. Photograph taken August 2003.

18 May 2015

Joys of the Carthage Wrens

A colorful bird house placed for decorative purposes has hung from a great oak tree for many months. It is hanging from a tree branch, near the big window at the back of the house so it can be enjoyed by an elderly mother. The wooden construct provided by a sister.

During the winter any potential residents was far away. As May weather of spring arrived, the song of the House Wren burst forth in a wonderful expression amidst an urban neighborhood. Wrens soon found the house. One kept singing virtues for the pending breeding season. The bubbly song can't be ignored by any sort of a bird aficionado, as its song is readily heard each of these spring days, closely or in another yard among the blocks.

The little songster found the vacant house and so got busy getting it ready for a nest. Twigs were gathered and songs were sung from the branches and other prominent places nearby. Mr. and Mrs. Wren visited, according to an observer with a realized intent. There were additional times of appreciation. The times of songs were not always when the song of the little wren was bubbling forth within the yards of north 49th street, both a bit north and across the block to the east.

Twigs of various sorts, as found nearby, were carried into the place. Some too lengthy to fit through the "door" were dropped once the little mite realized there was a limitation on size, due to the diameter of the house entrance. The antics of effort were a joy to watch.

There were numerous days of abbreviated moments of observation, which were something. Wren sounds became an attraction of interest, whenever. This was the situation one day after another as the early days of spring arrived at Carthage. Activity by a little bit of feathered mite about the wonderfully decorated bird house became excitement to appreciate, once and again.

To facilitate the efforts of the active wren, one morning, notably the 12th, the first minutes of the morning were devoted to finding sticks. Those of a suitable size were broken into short pieces which could be of interest to a wren intent on furnishing its house. The twigs were closely placed on one corner the deck in the backyard, within just a few feet of the wren house locale.

With the birds interest, it seemed to be a time for urban renewal to promote the birdly residence. During an evening when the wrens were not about, the work was done. It involved a stepladder, tools and associated necessities. The bird house had to be placed sufficiently for the season. The evenings effort involved moving the house a few inches downward along the branch so it would have a better place of origin. The single wire used to attach the house to the branch was supplemented by a hefty string wrapped multiple times around the house attachment, then anchored to the mighty branch of the oak tree several times to make certain that the house would not fall in any sort of stormy breeze conditions.

The singing wren arrived soon thereafter, flitting into the place with its own intent. It always bounced about the oak branches just prior to darting through the hole of a place it prefers, once and again.

Many of the shortish twigs left upon the deck are gone. The mother of the house mentioned this, as she appreciates having wrens singing and active at a birdhouse of her origin. The wooden construct might have been placed further back in the yard, but the wrens accept the situation. It is all good for multiple residents at the place on North 49th Street.

Late in the evening of May 13, the singing wren arrived to enjoy its house, darting in and out of the place, once clinging upon the bark of the oak, until going once again into the painted house. The bird then took care of necessities and carried out its pellet of excrement for disposal.

The little bird was obviously appreciative again, though in an obtuse manner.

As May goes along, the singing wren continued to be busy in its gathering of material to make a suitable nest within the painted house at the oak tree.

Outside, the wren sings. It is wonderful as appreciated. Giving some attention to the birdly activity, it's obvious that one of them was looking for smaller twigs of a length that could be gotten into the house. Several times the itty-bitty twigs were moved in one manner or another so they could get within. Multiple moves by the wren were obvious. Eventually the force of the little mite turned its cargo in a direction that worked for another addition to the nest box.

While the active bird was doing its best to create a suitable nesting place, another wren was languishing on a nearby branch.

The results are not known but the endeavors are obvious, and certainly appreciated amidst one household.

It would seem that the little house in the yard is a secondary nest, as there is not enough activity to denote it as a primary nest place. Perhaps adding a ready source of food to the setting would help, though it is probably too late for a buffet to make a difference.

Maybe the nesting cardinals would also appreciate some bird food, close to their home in the nearby flowery bush.

Nebraska Migratory Bird Month Proclamation

May was officially designated as International Migratory Bird Month by Governor Pete Ricketts on May 13th. This is the text of the proclamation, and a courtesy photo provided by the governor's office.


Whereas, International Migratory Bird Day has been a celebration of birds across North American every May since 1993; and

Whereas, Nebraska plays a critical role on an international scale for migratory birds that have no boundaries or borders, and it is our responsibility as a part of the global community to make certain that birds have the habitats they require; and

Whereas, We recognize Nebraska's rich birding heritage and the need for the ongoing conservation of birds and their habitats so future generations may continue to enjoy the diversity of birds found across our great state; and

Whereas, We recognize the need to educate our children and adults about Nebraska's wildlife and importance of conservation and good land stewardship; and

Whereas, We recognize that Nebraska is host to over 450 bird species and has become a birding destination for national and international bird watchers; and

Whereas, We recognize the economic benefits birding tourism in Nebraska provides to our state's communities, private landowners, and to Nebraska's Department of Travel and Tourism, and

Wheras, We recognize the outdoor recreational benefits and values associated with bird watching across Nebraska.

Now, Therefore, I, Pete Ricketts, Governor of the State of Nebraska, Do Hereby Proclaim the month of May 2015, as

International Migratory Bird Month

In Nebraska, and I do hereby urge all citizens to take due note of the observance.

Shown in the photograph are Lindsay Rogers, outdoor education specialist with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Lt. Governor Mike Foley, and Dave Titterington of the Wild Bird Habitat Store.

14 May 2015

Bird-window Collisions During May at Downtown Omaha

This is a sampler of bird-window collisions in downtown Omaha during May, 2015.

dead Ovenbird at the north atrium entrance at 1200 Landmark Center

disabled Orange-crowned Warbler at the CenturyLink Center Omaha, near the north end of the west side

dead Baltimore Oriole at the west end of the north side of Omaha Public Power District energy plaza; note the black masking on the window to the right, put in place to reduce bird-window collisions

disabled Gray Catbird at the north entrance to the atrium at 1200 Landmark Center

dead White-throated Sparrow at the east side of the Gavilon building

disabled House Wren at the east entrance to Omaha Public Power District Energy Plaza

Ovenbird at the Elevate Company at 1018 Dodge Street

The following four are from the morning of May 15th.

dead Gray Catbird at the south box office entrance at the CenturyLink Center Omaha

dead male Indigo Bunting at the southeast corner of the south tower of Central Park Plaza

dead female Indigo Bunting at the Gavilon Building, near the entrance at the northwest corner

dead Ovenbird at the northeast corner of the Union Pacific Center

The following are from the morning of May 18th.

disabled Ovenbird on the west side of the CenturyLink Center Omaha

two dead Yellow Warblers on the north side, and just about the west end of 1200 Landmark Center; it's possible that the birds were placed together; there have previously been birds found in close proximity but never adjacent to one another like these two, and oriented in a similar manner

dead Mourning Dove at the entry doors at the northwest corner of the Gavilon building

The following are from the morning of May 22nd.

disabled Tennessee Warbler at TDAmeritrade ball park

dead female Common Yellowthroat at 1200 Landmark Center

dead female Common Yellowthroat at the north side atrium of the Firs National Bank tower

This is a minimal sample, as there have not been as many surveys done this spring as in past years, with some rainy mornings especially not conducive to bicycle transportation. Only birds were photos were taken are illustrated here.

Vegetation Removal at UNOmaha During Nesting Season

Vegetation removal was One of the first steps undertaking with work associated with a remodeling project at the plaza of the Henningson Memorial Campanile at the University of Nebraska at Omaha city campus.

During the morning of May 13th several trees and bushes were completely removed, with ground vegetation also stripped to the bare soil.

There were more than six and probably fewer than ten trees removed, which were perhaps 15-20 feet in height.

These trees may have been in use by nesting birds, most notably the American Robin. While noting the scene once the trees had been fallen, there was one and possibly two robins in the immediate vicinity, exhibiting behavior associated with being disturbed. It is an easy assumption that the birds may have been nesting among the trees which were large enough and with suitable branches for a robin's nest and to provide roosts for fledged young.

There have been fledgling robins seen elsewhere in midtown Omaha.

Upon asking the site supervisor if the trees had been checked for nests or young birds, his response indicated that they had not had a qualified person do this task. He was not even aware of the need for any sort of survey. Graham Construction did the removal as a contractor for the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Graham Construction has been involved with the Omaha CSO! project, where strict guidelines are in place - by Omaha Public Works - to ensure that no bird nests or eggs are harmed during the breeding season. Surveys done in this regard where for OPW, not the contractor.

In a similar fashion, University officials would also be responsible at the plaza site. They did nothing that could be determined, despite having professional biologists on campus, within two buildings at the Biology department.

The destruction of the nests and eggs of the vast majority of birds is a violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act as well as a similar State of Nebraska statute.

Views of the vegetation demolition site...

Barricade Maintenance Still Slovenly in Carthage

With water and gas line replacement continuing in Carthage, another evening was taken to evaluate the status of barrier lights in the area. The barriers are maintained by River City Barricade, as a contractor for the Metropolitan Utilities District. The following is the status at dusk on May 11th, after one review and then a look again by going back along the same route.

1011 North 49th Street
2 of 2 along the sidewalk not working
1012 North 49th Street
1 of 1 not working
49th and Nicholas streets intersection
2 of 2 okay
1101 North 49th Street
1 of 1 along sidewalk not working
1103 North 49th Street
2 of 2 along sidewalk not working
1104 North 49th Street
1 of 1 along sidewalk not working
1106 North 49th Street
1 of 1 working properly
1108 North 49th Street
1 of 1 not working
1110 North 49th Street
1 of 1 working
There was no sediment barrier properly placed adjacent to the pile of dirt at the east side of the intersection of 49th and Caldwell streets

Most of the barricades now along North 49th Street are associated with holes and areas of removed sidewalk.

4844 Hamilton Street parking lot
2 of 2 not working
4901 Hamilton Street parking lot
1 of 2 not working
4902 Hamilton Street parking lot
3 of 3 not working
4906 Hamilton Street
1 of 1 not working
49th Avenue and Hamilton streets
1 of 4 working with one fallen over and laying in the street
1310 North 49th Avenue
1 of one not working
1308 North 49th Avenue
1 of 1 okay
1304 North 49th Avenue
1 of 2 working properly
49th Avenue and Caldwell streets at west side of intersection
7 of the 9 lights on the smaller barricades were blinking, while only one of three on the larger barricades blinked during the visit
1120 North 49th Avenue
2 of 2 lights blinking in the dusk light
1114 North 49th Avenue
1 of 2 working
1106 North 49th Avenue
light on one barricade blinking
1102 North 49th Avenue
3 of 4 lights blinking

It is obvious that the primary contractor and secondary contractor are not giving sufficient attention to the status of the barricade lights, despite email comments that this would be done. Some lights blink brightly while a few others have a tepid extent of light, though they still weakly blink. The result is a slovenly condition unacceptable for the neighbor residents.

There were slightly more not working than were working properly. More were working along 49th Avenue than 49th Street, likely because they were placed here more recently. Fewer were working at sidewalks associated with a residence, than those within the street.

The following are some visual indications from the work underway at Carthage during May.

These images are from May 5th

Barrier along North 49th Street.

These images are from May 11th.

This broken barricade at 49th and Hamilton streets is really useful for the purposes for which it was intended!

Utility work site at the intersection of 49th and Caldwell streets.

This is a video of the work site at the 49th and Caldwell streets intersection.

13 May 2015

Creighton Destroys Chimney Swift Breeding Habitat

This a copy of an email sent to officials at the Nebraska field office of the Fish and Wildlife Service and a person in the facilities office of Creighton University on the morning of May 4th. An aerial photo of the buildings was included as an attachment. No response was received from either, so they were worthless in trying to protect the swift habitat. The site, which was a pile of rubble on May 13th, will be converted to a grass lot. It is quite disgusting that a building was torn down now to put in turf, when the demolition could have been delayed, until after the nesting season.

Demolition by a contractor is currently underway on buildings on the Creighton University campus. The removal is along the 2000 block of Cuming Street.

One building being removed is 2011 Cuming Street. The building has a chimney which is in good shape and 2.5 bricks by 2.5 bricks in size.

While looking over the site on the morning of May 3rd, chimney swift activity - a pair - was noted at the chimney site, as well as again on the morning of May 4th.

There are three reasons that nesting would be occurring in this chimney:

1) Repeated occurrence of birds during the nesting season
2) adequate size of the chimney
3) presence of multiple swifts in the immediate vicinity

Due to access limitations, there has been no opportunity to actually look down the chimney.

Creighton University is listed as the property owner, according to details at the Douglas County assessor's office. Since they are responsible for the removal, the University should be issued a citation for failure to evaluate the site for nesting activity (during the April 15 to July time period) and violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, i.e., destruction of a nest.

This matter needs to be suitably dealt with by the Fish and Wildlife Service.

The contractor should not be held responsible for a failure by the university to evaluate the site for nesting birds.

Creighton University should be fined $1000 for this violation. The money should be given to Heron Haven for construction of a swift tower.

(The aerial photo included shows the buildings being demolished, with the chimney mentioned in the center of the image, a bit below the blue splotch.)

Usable chimney at 2011 Cuming Street, prior to its demolition by Creighton University

Capped, but potentially usable chimney at 2011 Cuming Street, prior to its demolition by Creighton University

Creighton is focused on demolition of the majority of buildings in this area which were formerly useful as habitat for swifts. Refer to these two previous articles indicating similar demolition by this university of higher destruction, not learning:

Ongoing Expansion Threatens Chimneys for Urban Swifts
Creighton University Continues Destruction of Swift Havens

04 May 2015

Omaha Falcons Prey on Shorebirds and Cuckoos

Evidence found at downtown Omaha indicates that the Peregrine Falcons living at the Woodmen Tower are taking shorebirds as prey.

The morning of May 2nd, a Pectoral Sandpiper was found dead in Dodge Street, just north of the First National Bank tower. It was originally thought that it may have struck the atrium windows and died, with the carcass then being kicked by a pedestrian into the street. A closer examination showed a bloody spots on white feathers, which tends to convey bleeding due to the claws of a raptor, notably the Peregrine Falcons which nest at an adjacent building.

Sunday morning, May 3rd, the fresh carcass of an Upland Sandpiper was found on the sidewalk at the corner of 16th and Dodge Street, within about 150 feet of where the Pectoral Sandpiper carcass was located. The bird's neck was partially mangled, indicating that something had violently torn at the body of the bird. There were feathers missing. The injuries to the bird and its location readily indicate it did not die due to striking glass of the bank tower.

In both instances, it appears that the hunting falcon, as it was returning to the nest, dropped its prey. The nest contents at the Woodmen Tower are currently being incubated, according to the falconcam.

Both carcasses were taken and disposed of in a suitable manner.

The Pectoral Sandpiper carcass; the wound is obvious in the lower part of the bird's body.

This is an image capture from the Woodmen of the World FalconCam of an adult falcon feeding its young, the morning of May 19th. The bird was large and provided food for each eyas and the adult. The identity of the bird could not be determined.

The morning of May 23rd, another prey item of the Peregrine Falcons was found on the sidewalk of downtown Omaha. The carcass of a yellow-billed cuckoo was laying at the southwest corner of 16th and Dodge Streets. The head of the bird had been torn from its body, so the features of the tail feathers were used to make the species identification. There is something about the First National Tower that results in the falcons dropping prey items before they reach the nest site on Woodmen Tower, just to the southwest. Each of the three carcass found thus far have been within a relative short distance of one another.

On the morning of May 29th, another yellow-billed cuckoo was found on the same 16th and Dodge Street corner. It was located within 20 feet of the carcass found on the 23rd. The following image shows the blood on the feathers caused by the falcon talons.

Birdtastic Event at Hummel Park

A "birdtastic" event focused on the family was held Saturday morning, May 2nd at Hummel Park nature center. Activities featured included an opportunity to create a nature journal, paint a bird feeder made of popsicle sticks, use crayons to color bird outlines or go on a scavenger hunt and enjoy the spring woods, including the blooming timber phlox.

The kids could also enjoy touching animal skins, deer horns, read children books with a nature theme, play with stuffed animals and enjoy other items in the nature center.

The birdtastic event was a "complement to other nature-based activities" at the center, said Christine Stehno, camp supervisor.

There was a small, enthusiastic attendance. One child, Isaac, found a turkey feature that was a treasure from his visit. He also took home a painted bird feeder, and some sunflower seeds to place in it once hung at home.

A new addition to the park is a flock of chickens. They - and newly hatched chicks - will be used for educational purposes, especially during the summer day camp, Stehno said. The birds are all white, but some colored varieties are expected to be added.

Birds noted about the nature center during the morning included the Chipping Sparrow, Carolina Wren, House Wren at a bird house, the favorite Northern Cardinal, American Robin, Northern Flicker, a Blue Jay carrying nest material, a Wild Turkey, Tufted titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Turkey Vulture soaring overhead, Black-capped Chickadee, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Mourning Dove, Downy Woodpecker and a vividly territorial Eastern Bluebird.

Although it was not specifically scheduled for Nebraska Bird Month, it was the first-bird related event in the Omaha area for International Migratory Bird Day.