08 August 2015

Urban Skunk Eats Dead Martins at Midtown Roost

It was a complete surprise to see a vividly marked Striped Skunk hurry across 44th Street just south of Farnam Street as dusk was happening on Friday evening, July 7th. It was obviously in a hurry because to do otherwise, it would nothing more than a splotch on the street, after getting run over by some vehicle, perhaps some Omaha emergency responder rig with all of their lights and colorful paint.

The critter knew that beneath the trees of the roost, there might be something edible. Anything edible is a meal as the species is an "opportunistic omnivore and eats both plant and animal foods."

On Friday, there were at least three tasty carcasses to gnaw on.

This is the progression as experienced on a saucy Friday evening. While watching the gathering starlings, grackles and martins, the skunk was drastically apparent in black-and-white as it ran west to east across 44th Street. Its route could be easily seen as it moved about looking for an evening meal beneath the trees of the birds roosts. Birds always die and gravity dictates that there might be a carcass for a meal on the grounds beneath the limbs.

The skulking skunk in its distinct manner, needed to be given some special attention. Not only for its beautiful coloration but for its unique occurrence. Wandering in my own way to its space among the landscaping or habitat if that word is more preferential, at least one picture was suitable for presentation.

During my foray, moving along, beneath the skywalk between the Clarkson Tower and Kiewit Tower (or hall, whatever it is as the vicinity signs do not convey the same thing), there were three Purple Martin carcasses. The fine for dead Purple Martins is $500 each, payable to a conservation group working to conserve the species. Within 15 days, the Nebraska Medical Center will be late in their payment, so a late fee of 10% every 15 days also may need to be assessed so they realize that they are responsible to what they have wrought.

The carcasses were forlorn, lying in the grass as dead bits of what was once lovely featheration. The fatalities were not known until my arrival, but henceforth are will not be forgotten. Pictures were taken for documentary purposes.

Who makes the decisions on creating structures where birds die, again and again? Most architects are oblivious and only interested in facades for their glory, rather than creating an environmentally safe building. What is the responsibility for those whose task is to conserve wild birds protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act? Apparently some government officials think it is just easier to do nothing. Consider especially the the Federal Worthless Service and the state agency responsible for nongame bird management. These are ponderings of the day.

More importantly, the skunk was walking about in the shadows of the evening, near the building of an uncertain name.

At bit further in the short distances associate with urban place, nothing was done where these birds died. There were a couple on the skywalk a a few steps to the north.

Rather than have the carcasses be dealt with as trash by medical center employees, they were each carefully picked up, by their feet, considered as a fatality due to thoughtless building design, and taken away to a nearby place. That skunk was still looking for food and it received something to eat, very easily, rather than having to search. Within a minute or two after sharing the dead purple martins by tossing them near the place where the skunk sulked as it made its own way trying to be safe, the result was obvious.

In the cycle of nature, the skunk grabbed a carcass and had a days' hearty meal perhaps, something to help it carry on. It would hopefully find the other two birds to feed on, just afterwards, as they were closely nearby.

It might be an utter travesty to post this account, because once the "rulers of landscape" at the Nebraska Medical Center they have resident skunks, they will descend with all of their might with a purpose to eradicate. The animals just wants to survive. Many other people want to destroy, and they will certainly convey that anything done is in the interest of safety.

It is simply sad! Skunks and other urban critters struggles to live. Officials with big houses, large cars and hefty paychecks work to lessen the values of urban nature in Omaha through their intent to eradicate.

There were two skunks individually seen on Saturday night on the 8th, searching for suitable food. As noticed, a rabbit dead on the lawn on the west side of 44th Street, was moved to the east side and amidst some bushes, so the two black-and-white skunks could have something to eat as they strive to survive. Tom and Tammy enjoyed see the animals, too, as we discussed the situation.

The probable prognosis: any animals of black-and-white will likely be eradicated!

Hospital workers saw the mammals, pointing and gesticulating as they were smoking on a campus where smoking is not allowed.

My time was spent enjoying the company of Tom and Tammy, two dedicated martin watchers and the only ones to ever bring a tasty, fresh pie to share in the first years of the roost.

The two skunks were given a dead rabbit for their evening's feast. It was across the street in an exposed place, so moved elsewhere so they could get something to eat without any obvious disturbance. The rabbit was dead anyway, so it was just another example of continuing the cycle of life through sharing.

Hopefully the skunks were satisfied with the meal and felt some comfort for at least this night of theirs.