14 May 2015

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...