25 November 2014

Lincoln Birders Study Waterthrush at Platte Park

Nesting season activities of several waterthrushes were well studied at Platte River State Park by Shari Schwartz and John Carlini, Lincoln birders.

“Curiosity about the mysterious lives of several Louisiana Waterthrushes resident at Platte River State Park inspired a fun project during the 2014 breeding season that consisted of near weekly surveys along Stone Creek to see what would (and wouldn't) be revealed,” the birders said.

Surveys started April 15 and lasted through September 13 when the last bird was observed," the birders said. Their search was focused solely on Stone Creek where they observed four territories, two nests, and one or more fledglings on each of the four territories. Two of the territorial boundary lines were determined by locations where males had repeated disputes, both by aerial battles and sing-offs (like a version of dueling banjos but featuring waterthrushes instead.) The third boundary line was speculative because no disputes were observed so location was based on singing males, foraging adults, and foraging juveniles who were easily identified by different hatch months.

The two birders were familiar with waterthrushes at the park, having observed them in previous years. "Louisiana Waterthrushes in our region have a preference for clear moving water in deep shade where they nest in stream bank cavities, which explains why Stone Creek is such a unique and desirable nesting site.

“A few memorable encounters included epic battles between the first and second territory males earlier in the season, always in the same location,” birders Schwartz and Carlini said. “They would chase each other across a big bend, chittering and dramatically attacking in flight. Sometimes the Louies were conspicuous but other times they were as invisible as little ninjas. They were active in the morning but late afternoon and early evening were also a good time to detect the birds calling and foraging.”

“A surprising twist to this year's breeding season was the late timing of the juvenile sightings, about a month later than last year,” they said, adding that a “major highlight of the surveys was observing and becoming familiar with several juveniles. A lone juvenile on first territory consistently used a small side stream as its nursery. Two siblings on fourth territory who were always accompanied by one adult, appeared to have their favorite spots as well. A very late nest with parents feeding nestlings was photographed July 8 on third territory and surely had to be a renest.”

“Louies can be one of the first eastern warblers to depart after breeding, leaving as early as July, but this year's entire crew stayed on Stone Creek through most of August.”

“They're such fantastic birds to watch, they don't give you warbler neck, they choose scenic locations for nesting, and their compulsive u-shaped tail bobbing is so endearing. Sometimes the juveniles almost lose their balance when perching because they just can't stop bobbing! It was a challenge to get photographs in shady low light conditions,” the birders said, “but we were able to get shots of a fourth territory juvenile on different dates and then compare the plumage development, most noticeably the streaking on the flanks which is absent when they're younger."

“Hopefully the limited habitat will endure at the park,” the birders said in an email. “We try to impress upon park management how special this species is, but what is ultimately needed is a system of keeping information permanently and easily available that would describe special and unique bird species at each individual Nebraska Game and Parks Commission unit where unique species occur. The description could include habitat needs and be available at a glance to park managers, park naturalists, and the general public. When new park superintendents take over management responsibilities, they currently have no way of knowing that information about their unit, especially if they're not a birder.”

A map of nests found to date and 2014 territories has been attached to an ebird checklist and can be viewed at this link along with additional photographs.

Future Unknown for Preeminent Omaha Chimney

A realty sign stating the availability for purchase of an midtown property portends an uncertain future for a preeminent Chimney Swift chimney within interurban Omaha.

The sign is placed on the Cuming Street side of the CenturyLink maintenance staff facility, located between there and northward to Izard Street, along 43rd Avenue.

Signage is only indicative of a change of ownership, but any change in the situations associated with the place can have massive ramifications for current uses. Previous values are often unknown by new owners, as they glibly buy a place and make significant renovations amidst their ignorance bliss for improvements to make them money. It might include demolition. It might include a change in the duct works. And it might, most sadly include something that will result in the demise of the chimney as an autumnal roost for Chimney Swifts.

The building was constructed in 1921, and so has been available for swifts to use for decades.

The key feature is the chimney of the structure. Numerous evenings have been spent denoting the number of Chimney Swifts which roost here in the autumn. This place has had more Chimney Swifts roost within the chimney on one evening than any other place at Omaha, based upon hundreds of counts. The peak count known occurred here, with more than 1500 present one evening during the 2014 autumn.

Certainly ... this feature ... this unique aspect and facet of Omaha's bird community, has only received any consideration from one swift watcher's perspective and continual consideration in recent years.

The building's owners have not discerned or learned any particulars associated with the chimney, from what is apparent and not presented anywhere on the company website. The same company has the name rights for the CenturyLink Center Omaha, and any Omaha birder recognizes that place as the most hazardous structure for migratory birds in Omaha.

The most obvious situation is that of ignorance.

What a mistake, as there are so many details to present that convey the multiple thousands of Chimney Swifts which have appreciated a night's haven within this distinctive brick chimney. To lose this place within the city-scape would be a blow to generations of swifts. Destruction of the sizable brick structure would lessen the ability of these birds to find a safe haven during autumn along the Missouri River migration route.

Consider these points, if you might...

It would continue to convey an indifference of Omaha developers and officials about the value of wild birds in the city environs. It would represent a situation where known bird facts are being ignored by city, county and state officials. It would indicate the complete lack of knowledge or support by local conservation groups. It would blithely convey that the annual gathering of swifts may no longer be appreciated by neighborhood residents.

And most importantly, it would not be a place where Chimney Swifts gather as they have for so many of their generations. The adults and young of the year gather and learn. They convey safe places where there might be a haven for some nights. The birds share their knowledge and learn.

It is simply something that would be so wrong in regards to something so important.

Markets Featuring Game in 1892 Omaha

Wild game, including various sorts of wildbirds, prominent among which was the prairie chicken and wild ducks, were a regular commodity at food markets of the early 1890s at eastern Omaha. As the regulatory seasons allowed, items brought from the country-side and from western portions of the state of Nebraska, arrived. Various brokers made their purchase and the edible fowl went onward to a market or store where consumers decided to purchase something for a meal.

When the particular report about the local business places of interest was issued, these businesses were all basically in the downtown district, east of 24th Street.

Game was mentioned as a product to be purchased, with most of the reports having a similar comment regarding that game was available in season. No particulars were indicated in regard to quantity or price, according to the source book, issued at Chicago.

These are the establishments featuring game for purchase.

C.F. Bressert.

This meat market was first opened in 1890 at 1921 Leavenworth Street. Fish, game and poultry were available during the season.

"... Mr. Bressert is prepared to supply in quantities to suit hotels, restaurants, private families and consumers generally, a special feature being made of family trade."

Orders were delivered free of charge.

Denton & Vogt.

A market operated by L.W. Denton and Otto Vogt at the northwest corner of 13th and Chicago Streets, in downtown. Their specialty was the "freshest and choicest of meats," with fish and game available in season.

This business had been originally established in 1882, and in 1892 the 22x44 feet store was "elegantly filled up with ash fixtures and marble-topped counters," where attentive clerks offered for purchase fresh beef, pork, veal, mutton, sausage, and, in fact, "all kinds of fresh and salt meats," according to the sketch account of the era.

Samuel Dreifuss.

This business as established in the late 1870s, originally had an address at 1517 Dodge Street. It then moved to 2010 Farnam Street. The pen-sketch indicated the business was one of "finest assortment" to be found on the West End. Product specialties were poultry and game.

"His prices are low and popular and his market affords a constant scene of activity during market hours."

Grand Central Market.

Messrs. R.E. and J.U. Welch, having arrived at the city from Boston seven years previous, operated this business at 2204 - 2206 Farnam Street, telephone 1511. The business front represented the both a meat market and grocery store.

"The whole is elegantly fitted up with ash fixtures, marble top counters, cashier's desk, electric lights, etc., and is by far the most attractive establishment of the kind in the city."

Fish and game were available in season.

Paul Henni.

Located at 730 24th Street in South Omaha, since 1891, after having moved from elsewhere in the metro area.

"Neatness and cleanliness are characteristics of this market, and a well selected stock of choice fresh beef, mutton, lamb, pork, veal, lard, sausage, hams, shoulders and in fact, of all kinds of fresh and salt meats, as well as of poultry, game, fish, fresh vegetables, etc., is carried. Swift's choice meats are always on hand."

This is another example of an Omaha market being run by a German immigrant.

Icken & Wohlers.

Messrs. G.W. Icken and Ed. J.H. Wohlers were copartners in a 20x70 foot establishment located at 1205 Howard Street, having been in business for years.

"... Everything in the way of country produce is handled by the firm: Butter, cheese, eggs, poultry, game, fresh vegetables, hides, pelts, etc."

Their pen sketch also indicated an extensive business in shipping products to eastern markets.

The People's Cash Market.

Geo. W. Kurz was the proprietor, having been situated for seven years at 1714 Nicholas Street. The

The source where these vignettes were published was "handsomely illustrated", but, alas, there were no images included for the places of particular interest.

Game Markets Gone

Not one of these businesses are extant in the modern era, at the same locality!

22 November 2014

Interstate Commerce of Nebraska Prairie Chickens

Interstate Commerce in Game.

Theodore Sherman Palmer. Interstate commerce in game. Federal game protection - a five years' prospect. Reprint from the yearbook of the Department of Agriculture for 1905. Electronic document found at books.google.com.
The following paragraph is important because of the key element it indicates in regards to the harvest of prairie chickens within Nebraska. There is no other known source which conveys such an immense taking and what had to be the resultant game trade.

[Paragraph not included.]

"Until recently Chicago and St. Louis were the largest game markets in the West. The conditions in these cities illustrate clearly the difficulties encountered in protecting game, and at the same time show the progress recently made in game-law enforcement. In 1900, nonexport laws were on the statute books of all the States of the Northwest except Nebraska and Montana. In Missouri the local law did not affect shipment or sale of game from other states States, while in Illinois, imported game could be sold without restriction as late as February 1. Under these conditions, the game trade in Chicago and St. Louis flourished in spite of State laws, and enormous quantities of deer, grouse, prairie chickens, quail, and ducks were handled each season. Quail and grouse were received by the barrel and ducks and venison in larger quantities. A single consignment of game from Nebraska received at Chicago in 1900 contained no less than 87 barrels of prairie chickens, and a rough estimate of the number of these birds killed in Nebraska that year placed it at about 5 millions, of which 1 million were killed for local consumption and 4 millions for shipment beyond the State."

[Article continues.]

Prairie Chicken Trade of Iowa in Early 1860s

D.B. Beemer. March 1892. The Game trade. The prairie chicken trade of Iowa thirty years ago - how it was handled - a dealer's experience with grouse - one of the first freezers in New York City. Ice and Refrigeration Illustrated 2(3): 188-189. Continued in April, 2(4): 271-272.

Thirty years ago the game trade was restricted to shipments by express to the large markets from comparatively near-by hunting ground, during the spring and fall migrations of the birds; Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington depending upon the gunners of the coast inlets and bays, from Cape Cod to Chesapeake bay — the latter, then, as now, furnishing that unapproachable grade of celery-fed canvas back, red head and other ducks. About that time, however, a new feature of the trade developed. Railroads were pushing their way westward across Iowa from the Mississippi river, and towns and villages were springing up at intervals along these lines, while farm settlements were developing in clumps along them to a distance of ten miles on either side. Iowa, at that time, was the banner "Prairie Chicken" state. The birds were so plentiful that they occasioned serious loss to the farmers by their marauding inroads upon the crops of small grain in the early part of the season, while later, they stripped the corn from the ear, as it stood uncut in the "hill" in the fields, as it often did, all winter.

To these corn fields in the winter time, the grouse resorted in great numbers to feed, and when alarmed would rise in such immense "packs" that the noise of their wings in their labored rising would sound like distant thunder.

But a farmer of an inventive turn of mind contrived a box trap into which the birds could readily get while reaching for feed, but from which they could not find their way out. It proved so effective in stocking the farmer's larder with fresh meat, that it soon came into general use. The "catch," however, became so large that the farmers were unable to use all the birds; and in casting about for a way to get rid of them, it naturally occurred to them to take them to town, like poultry, and trade them off for groceries, etc. Some speculative shipper, seeing a surplus of these hard-frozen game birds lying about, was led to ship them by freight to Chicago, and the profits resulting proving large, others took hold of the trade; and buyers and shippers were to be found in all the larger towns having tributary farms to furnish the stock. Thus encouraged by a home market and cash for the birds, the farmers went into the business of trapping grouse as a business by putting out large numbers of traps, which they attended much as a fisherman attends his hooks set through holes in the ice in winter time. These traps were made of lath; were about four feet square and a foot deep; and when full would hold from two to three dozen birds. The traps being open at the bottom, where they rested on the ground, it sometimes happened that when the grouse in a trap saw a man coming toward them, they would get into such a fluttering panic that they would raise the trap bodily from the ground sufficiently for the bulk of them to escape before he could reach them.

With enlarged offerings shippers were forced to enlarge their operations. By packing the hard frozen grouse into tight barrels, they were able to reach the Boston and New York markets with them; and these markets in turn, accumulating surplus stock, reshipped quantities of them to the Liverpool English market. In the course of two or three seasons, this trade had grown to proportions which the present generation of shippers will scarcely deem possible. Cedar Rapids, on the Chicago & North-Western R.R., and Independence, on the then Dubuque & Sioux City, R.R., were the largest shipping points, and often shipped grouse in car load lots, the latter sometimes making special shipments of three and four car loads of grouse at a time. Small fortunes were made — and lost, sometimes, in the trade through the risks incurred and the loss resulting from the thawing out and spoiling of grouse while in transit, and the glutting of eastern markets by them and consequent low prices.

As an example, I will relate the experience of a man at Independence, Iowa, in 1863. He was a banker, and at the same time did a shipping produce trade, while in common with others he was buying and shipping prairie chickens. Incidentally, one day he offered a speculative curbstone operator $1.50 per dozen for what "chickens" he could bring him, intending that the offer should cover such casual lots of grouse as the other man would be able to pick up off the street. But the latter had enlarged views upon the subject; and after obtaining the contract in writing, he drove around the country, visiting farmers and trappers and contracting with them, in turn, to pay them cash for all the grouse they could bring him, at any price he could secure below his own contract price. Then he went back and waited for his birds to come in, which they soon did — by sled loads, the sleds often being supplemented by hay racks on them, piled high with frozen grouse! He coolly piloted these sleighs around to the place of business of the other man and dumped the birds upon him on his contract.

This naturally surprised him, but he contented himself for a time with receiving the birds and shipping steadily out of them, day by day, to eastern markets. His shipping room was 20 x 60 feet, and he kept three men at work on them, who kept stacking the surplus receipts behind them at the rear end of the store from the floor to the ceiling. Gradually this surplus crowded them toward the front door, till finally the store was full and they had no room to work in. They then adjourned to a warehouse he had down on the railroad track, and continued operations there!

By that time the banker became alarmed, and tried to get the contractor to let him off, but the contractor, Shylock-like, insisted upon the conditions of his "bond" (contract). The bank then had some hundreds of barrels of grouse on the way from Boston to Liverpool, reshipped to that port on his order by the Boston consignee, because all eastern markets were flooded with grouse and demoralized, while he had yet hundreds of barrels there and on the road to those cities, beside large quantities in his warehouse and store room at home. The banker "threw up his hands" and refused to receive any more birds on the contract. Arbitration was mutually agreed upon between them, and the arbitrators ruled that though the letter of the contract allowed the delivery of an unlimited number of birds at the price named, yet it was evident, from the nature of the case, that it was not intended to cover such extensive operations, and that there was neither justice nor equity in enforcing it farther, in short, they declared the contract "off" and released the banker from that dilemma.

But it was too late to save him. His eastern shipments sold at a big loss, and the eastern markets being glutted for a long time, he was forced to hold a big stock at home while waiting for the markets to clean up and recover prices. While doing this spring opened and his birds thawed out, so that he was forced ultimately to ship by express at high rates. This was slow work, and eventually a large part of these holdings spoiled on his hands. He lost $10,000 in the "round up," and his banking capital went to fill the hole. this happened before the days of cold storage. If such storage had been available at that time, it would have saved this man, and many others, such disastrous losses.

I operated in frozen grouse at Independence the following season. The previous winter had been one of deep snow, forcing the birds to the cornfields for food, and hunger had driven them into the traps in such multitudes that they glutted and demoralized he markets as described. The "catch" had been so large that the crop of trapped birds the following season was of diminished proportions, which led in turn to sharp competition among buyers.

We finally compromised by pooling our interests. In this way we kept down prices on the street, and at night divided the birds and the cost between us. I accumulated a large lot of frozen birds and got from Chicago a lot of new lard tierces to pack them in, my idea being that frozen birds, packed in such an air tight package, with its thick staves, would keep frozen a long time in ordinary winter weather without thawing out. While I was doing this, I became aware that the "close season" had overtaken me — and the birds. During it, the railroads were prohibited from carrying shipments of grouse, under heavy penalties. I got over this difficulty by billing my tierces out as mess beef, and it being no part of the railroad company's business to open hard tierces in search of grouse, they got safely out of the state. I considered that I was justified in practicing this deception, since I had bought the birds when it was lawful to do so, and should then have been allowed necessary time to pack and ship them to market.

I sent them to Boston by freight, and returned myself to Wisconsin, directing my consignees to hold the stock on arrival and wait my instructions to sell; for Boston had its periodical glut on, as usual, and stock was being "slaughtered," to the loss of shippers, particularly of those who had shipped by express and had their stock thawed out on the road.

My lard tierces proved to be good refrigerators, and justified my confidence in them. In packing, I had wrapped each bird separately in paper, packed them as tightly as possible by hand pressure, and filling the tierce rounding full, then settled the head of the tierce home by screw-press power, carrying the grouse down together in a compact mass. I held them many weeks on the Boston market after their arrival, against the advice of the consignees, who feared that they would spoil on their hands. The market finally recovered and the price went pack to $1 per pair, when I wired them to sell. The grouse came out perfectly sound and sold at outside prices; so my improvised refrigerators saved me not only from loss, but made me a profit.

The next winter I went over to Iowa and bought grouse from station to station, along the C. & N.W. R.R., from Cedar Rapids to Jefferson, freighting them to Chicago, where I had them held till I returned at the opening of the "close" season, when I again packed the birds in lard tierces, and went with a car load of them down to Baltimore. Leaving the car there, I went down to Washington and sold by sample, forwarding the stock upon my return to Baltimore. After working the Baltimore market also, I went with the car to Philadelphia, and sold freely there; then went on to New York with the balance of the birds. When I got there I found but little stock offering, and felt very "bullish" on mine. I sold some at $1.50 per pair; and Mr. Robins, of Fulton market, bid me $1.25 per pair for the whole lot, which I refused. Next day, however, I learned of free arrival of grouse, and concluded that I would close with Mr. Robins' offer. So I went around to his place of business and skirmished to trap him into repeating it. But Mr. Robins always kept his "weather eye open," and was not to be caught "napping" in that way. He casually made an offer of $1.12½ per pair, which I also refused believing that I could get $1.25 per pair by the single tierce. But I found I was mistaken in this, as grouse were becoming more plenty every day. I again dropped around to chat with Mr. Robins and feel his pulse in connection with his $1.12½ per pair offer made the previous day. But he had lost his appetite for grouse — could not see any money in them at anything over $1 per pair — thought they would go lower than that; still, as my birds were well handled, etc., he would give $1 per pair that day. I lost no time in taking him at his word. I sold them to him, and when he sent a "truck" for them I went with them, suspecting that he would store them in his "freezing room," of which I had heard some rather wonderful accounts, so that I might work a plan to get in and see it.

Mr. Robins had, at that time, the only "freezer" in New York, and guarded it jealously from all inspection, since it enabled him to buy poultry and game off of glutted markets at his own prices, and then hold for the "rise" that always came after a glut and subsequent "clean up."

We arrived at the store where the "freezer" was situated, and the man in charge opened the outside shuttered door to see what was wanted. I bustled off the load with note book and pencil in hand and told him the tierces wanted to go right into the freezer quick, and made a show of checking off the figures on the tierces, as I rolled them inside the door; and when this outer door was closed I was inside and continued to urge the man to hurry them into the freezer at once, as it was of great importance that it should be done quickly. He stared at me, evidently trying to "size" me and my authority up, but I kept rushing him with the air of a man sent by Robins to boss the job, and he walked across the reception room and opened a door set into a thick wall from which the cold air rushed, turning to fog as it came into contact with the warmer air of the outside room.

We took in a lighted candle and rolled the tierces in as quickly as possible, and then he hustled me out with himself and slammed the door shut, thinking, no doubt, that it was but little that I could have seen or learned of the construction of the plant by the faint light of the candle, while passing the tierces inside the door; but he was "away off" if he entertained such ideas. When I went out of that room I had the whole interior of it impressed upon my mind and memory by a series of instantaneous views!

I first noticed the walls glistening with frost. That meant a freezing temperature, sure enough; and I looked for the cause. I saw "V"-shaped galvanized iron tanks hanging suspended from the ceiling, to which they were apparently bolted, and through which they must have been fed with ice and salt to coat them with frost and ice, as they were, from condensing the moisture from and out of the room. I also saw broad, shallow pans of galvanized iron suspended from the ceiling of the room, upon which were piled heaps of ice in a dry, frosty condition, while from all these tanks pipes led down to the floor and the sewer openings to take off the drainage.

Barrels and boxes of apparently frozen game and poultry were standing about on the floor, showing that although the apparatus was of a rude and experimental nature, the required power was there. It was, in fact, a freezer in embryo — that power which, since improved and elaborated, has revolutionized the trade in perishable goods, and yearly saves millions of money on products which formerly went to waste, but which are now not only utilized, but also serve to cheapen them for the masses.

Look at the myriad thousands of cattle now gathered from the great plains of South America and carried in the cold embrace of the ship's "freezer" across the great waste of waters, through the heat of the torrid zone, and landed in frosty freshness of condition upon the distant markets of England, when formerly they were slaughtered for their hides alone! Contemplate the spectacle of the flocks and herds of Australia marching to the sea and their cold sepulchure in frozen ranks, in the holds of ocean racers, to be resurrected at last, after months of time and thousands of miles of ocean travel also, on the far distant shores of England! See the shoals of fish, taken from the waters of the great lakes and estuaries of the sea in warm weather, locked in congealed masses and stored like brick in the great "freezers" of the fish dealers and carried therein till seasons of scarcity! Behold the cattle from our own far west ranges and feed yards, leaving their comparatively waste material at the packing houses and journeying across the country in refrigerator cars to the far eastern markets in condensed form, ready for the butcher's block! And the tropical fruits of far-away California and our great south country alike join in the wheeled procession of "refrigerator," bearing them to markets formerly inaccessible to them, in company with eggs and butter, poultry and game.


Although the article by Beemer conveys a lively market for prairie chickens at this locality in Iowa, there are few actual records available from the local newspaper. An evaluation of the Cedar Valley Times, done by using appropriate search terms and browsing issues of particular interest, few records associated with the game market were found.

There were no results for prairie chickens for 1859.

During January and early February in 1860, prairie chickens could be bought for $1 to $1.50 per dozen at the market. By March 1, there were no prairie chickens available for purchase, which was a similar condition on April 12th, as determined by browsing the paper issues during this period of time.

There were also no records located by perusing issues from August 1860 through February 1863.

In November, 1863, among the items listed for the local market were prairie chicken and quail. The cost was $2.00 for the former and 75 cents for the latter.

Additional price indications followed.

Prairie chickens had a valuation of $1.75 to $2.00, until the end of January, 1864, when a dozen could be purchased for 50 cents.

As for quails, the market price was 75 cents per dozen, with the end of January price at 40 cents per dozen.

A variety of searches associated with Beemer, the author of the game bird perspective, did not return any results.

Selling Fowl at the Chicago Market

The number of different sorts of birds sold at the Chicago game market are indicated by details available primarily from 1865 to 1873. During this period, the market report in the Chicago Daily Commercial Report and Market Review indicated the price and number sold especially for the early 1870s, and the Chicago Commercial Express and Western Produce Reporter gave similar information for the 1860s.

There are six species which were reported in a most numerous manner on the pages of the market report.

Greater Prairie Chicken: 170 different dates during the year, based upon an evaluation of 578 records. The peak numbers known to sold were more than 6200 as reported on January 17, 1872 when the entry read:

"150 dozen prairie chickens at $2.75; 101 dozen at $2.85; 197 dozen at $3.00; 75 dozen in poor order at $2.50"

There were 6000 offered for purchase, according to the publication report for December 29, 1866. Numbers exceeding 4000 were reported for January 4th, both in 1872 and 1873. The primary dates when these birds were available for purchase was for the first forty days of the year, and after mid-August, when the season opened in the states from which the birds were harvested. Larger numbers were sold during December and January.

Mallard: 138 dates as derived from 331 records. Most of the peak numbers sold are from the early 1870s, with only one report of more than one thousand (October 25, 1873); the next lesser value as indicated by the evaluated records, is 900 in March of 1872, with a few more dates at the same time indicating an influx of birds transported to the market.

Northern Bobwhite (quail): 115 dates during the year, based upon 364 records. There were thousands and thousands of quail sold at the Chicago market. On January 2, 1873, the indicated tally was 7680. Peak counts were primarily in January and December.

Passenger Pigeon (wild pigeons): 114 dates, as derived from 219 records. The largest tally indicated for a day was more than 9100 for May 24, 1867, when the entry read:

"400 dozen pigeons at 25 c, 6 dozen 40 c, 219 dozen 60 c @ 65, 30 dozen picked at 75 c, 60 dozen 80 c, 50 dozen live at 90 c; large supply, very dull.

Perhaps some of the dead bird carcasses reported for the were from May 22, when the reportorial account indicated a number of 6300. Other peak counts occurred primarily during April and May.

Ruffed Grouse (partridges): 33 dates during the years from 1865 to 1873, and with the exception of three January dates, the remainder were in the autumn. An amazing 1200, that would be 100 dozen were available for $4.50, as reported for December 17, 1872.. Any other indications for this species are less than 350, as indicated by the 46 records considered.

Canvasback: 18 dates represented by 22 records. There were never more than 120 birds as indicated for sale, and these dates were for March 24, 1869 and April 5, 1873. All of the subsequent counts were less than 85.

This an example of the dates of sale and prices for this epicure's delight, as sportsmen loved to feast upon the flesh of the superb canvasback. The purchase price indicated was the minimum for the day, since birds in a better condition were sold for a better price. The values given were the cost to purchase a dozen carcasses, with the lowest value indicated.

Market Date Julian Date 1867 1869 1871 1872 1873
67 - - - - - - 12 - -
75 - - 78 - - - - - -
78 - - - - - - - - 24
79 - - - - - - 12 - -
81 - - 30 - - - - - -
83 - - 120 - - - - - -
86 - - 60 - - - - 84
87 - - - - - - - - 36
89 - - 12 - - - - - -
90 - - 60 - - - - - -
91 - - 60 - - - - - -
93 - - 36 - - - - - -
95 - - - - - - - - 120
97 - - 18 - - - - - -
98 - - 12 12 - - - -
100 12 48 - - - - - -
103 - - 12 - - 24 - -
308 - - - - - - - - 24

Market Date Julian Date 1867 1869 1871 1872 1873
67 - - - - - - $5.00 - -
75 - - $4.50 - - - - - -
78 - - - - - - - - $4.50
79 - - - - - - $4.50 - -
81 - - $4.00 - - - - - -
83 - - $4.00 - - - - - -
86 - - $4.50 - - - - $4.50
87 - - - - - - - - $5.00
89 - - $4.50 - - - - - -
90 - - $4.50 - - - - - -
91 - - $4.00 - - - - - -
93 - - $4.00 - - - - - -
95 - - - - - - - - $4.00
97 - - $5.00 - - - - - -
98 - - $4.50 $4.00 - - - -
100 $4.50$3.00 - - - - - -
103 - - $5.00 - - $4.50 - -
308 - - - - - - - - $4.00

Similar details are available for each of the species mentioned in this summary. Facts of this sort are also available for the other primary game markets, especially at New York City and Washington, D.C. Available particulars are just too extensive to present in a verbal format, since they can be best appreciated as a digital summary.

19 November 2014

Appreciating the Warmest Bicycle Shop in Omaha

Winter has descended upon the river city, but the cold temperatures and sometimes brutal wind chills have not brought an end to getting around via bicycle.

Tracks in the snow show where warmly clad men make their way along their usual routes through Omaha. During this time of the year, most of the bikes have fat tires, since the skinny tire guys can not ride amongst the snow since their tires have no traction. Their vivid garb of color is however not seen as often these days.

However. My own decades old bicycle was not working properly for the past seven days. A lubrication attempt led to the discovery of a broken cable.

On the morning of November 18th, a phone call was made to get an appointment at the best bicycle shop in the neighborhood. A short time later, work was underway by men at Olympia Cycle, 40th and Hamilton Streets, deep in the midst of eastern, urban Omaha.

Having been a long-time patron, and well, having given my name when calling, a personal greeting was given upon my arrival within the bicycle shop.

As the men with tools worked upon the mechanical issues needing fixing, my spot of focus was elsewhere, primarily to get out of the way. the result was a pleasant interlude with the "patriarch of the shop" beside the warm stove. Pieces of wood from out back of the shop were brought in to nourish the flame of heat.

A solid wooden bench, as readily available just a foot or two to the west of a warmly glowing wood stove, was a just about perfect for a chilly morning. It was mighty toasty to sit there! The bike guys were attentive to keeping its condition fresh.

During my repose, there was some good conversation with the of roads formerly traveled via some sort of vehicle out in the central sandhills. Halsey and the forest lands were a common theme.

A sorrowful theme was that the proprietors of the store have had to deal with thefts from their woodpile.

Time was also spent perusing the store, awaiting the end of the fixing.

The cost was right, and though there was no tip jar, a tip was left on the counter. Upon leaving, going west down Hamilton Street, the first one or two pulls upon the brakes were so tight right in comparison to earlier in the day that the handlebars got too close for comfort.

The gears shifted mighty fine and nicely right. With the bicycle fixed, and based upon a fine time at Olympia Cycle, there are going to be more days of cycling through Omaha to appreciate. The highlight of the streets this day was ringing the bell, at least one thousand times along the streets. The sound was quite nice. And he secondary peak of the day was the bicycle things in the store. Ignoring the obvious number of cycles,

If you would like personal, attentive service, go to this establishment.

The Chicago Game Trade

Where the Game is Obtained - How Much is Consumed - How it is Preserved.

December 12, 1868. Memphis Daily Appeal 29(99): 1.

A lengthy article in a Chicago paper gives some account of the game trade in that city. While it is not so extensive as we might suppose, nevertheless a number of interesting facts are given. We learn that there are in Chicago about a dozen wholesale firms, by whom hunters are kept in regular employment to furnish them game of every sort, from the buffalo or the "bar" down to the squirrel or the snipe, and by whom some hundreds of dealers all over the city are supplied. In addition to these there are quite an army of commission merchants, to whom game is consigned from the country, and who also furnish supplies both to wholesale and retail dealers, the former resorting to them principally when they have on an emergency to fill up orders from the East. A large body of men are thus enabled to follow hunting as an occupation in the Western States, whither the game is being gradually driven by the steady advance of civilization. Many farmers, also, engage in the lucrative sport, taking a circuit within reach of their homes at night, and often bagging a sufficient quantity of birds to make their day's shooting a profitable occupation. The hunter's calling is of course most remunerative in the winter months, when a heavy fall of snow renders them more easy to be trapped. There is also at this season less risk of loss on game exported eastward than in mild weather, when even with extreme care it is liable to spoil on the way.

The region from which our game-dealers obtain the bulk of their supplies comprehends the States of Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana. The two first named States abound in prairie chickens, wild ducks and quails, and those constitute, at this time of the year, the staple commodity to our markets under the head of game, exclusive of venison. The shooting season begins in the middle of August, but not too much is done commercially until the cold weather sets in, when the birds are more acceptable and the wholesale traders here can venture on shipping large consignments to the Eastern markets. The abundance in which these birds are found, and the enormous quantities in which they are shot and sent in to supply the luxurious tables of Chicago citizens, may almost be inferred from the fact that two skillful and fortunate "boys" from Indiana, between the 9th of September and the 13th of November, this year, pursuing their avocation along the line of the Illinois Central Railroad, supplied to one wholesale firm in this city 1172 quails, which they themselves had shot. Wisconsin and Michigan are the principal sources of supply for venison; Missouri sends us prairie chickens, quails and wild turkeys; and Indiana likewise furnishes ducks and quails in considerable abundance. Such luxuries as bear and opossum meat must be looked for farther west.

Amount of Game Sent to Market.

The probable supplies of prairie chickens to the Chicago market since the commencement of shooting will have been not less that from 25,000 to 30,000; of quails, about an equal number; and of wild ducks between 2000 and 3000. Large as these figures appear, they are in all likelihood under rather than over the actual quantity received and disposed of in the Chicago market. For a period of barely two months this is tolerably extensive trade, and yet the general report is that the supplies this season are considerably short of the demand for home consumption alone, and few of our wholesale merchants are doing anything at present in the way of exportation. As compared with former years, there is a much greater scarcity of all kinds of game in the market. After the cold weather fairly sets in, however, it is anticipated that large quantities of game will find their way to Chicago, and probably the supply and consumption this year will not fall below, if they do not surpass, those of former years. When the Pacific Railroad is opened, an immense further expansion of the game trade of Chicago may be looked for. Already, parties in Cheyenne are making arrangements with some of the Chicago dealers for the consignment of regular supplies from that locality.

Preservation of Game.

Apart from the risks of competition, there has always been a difficulty in the way of extensive exportation to the East, in the liability to loss by a sudden change of weather spoiling the game on the way. This difficulty is now likely to be entirely removed by the general introduction of a new kind of refrigerator car on the principal railroad lines, patented by Mr. C.F. Pike, of Providence, R.I. Already there is in operation, at the establishment of Messrs. Francis & Webber, corner of State and Madison streets, one of Mr. Pike's ice-boxes, in which they are enabled to preserve fruit and game for a length of time even in the hottest weather. In the top of the box is fixed a range of galvanized iron receivers, from which tubes of the same metal run down the entire depth of the box. These receivers are filled with ice and salt, to the proportion of twenty pounds of salt to one hundred pounds of ice, and when fully charged they are capable of reducing the temperature to a frost as severe as any experienced here in the months of January. In September last, 100 baskets of peaches were kept in good condition for thirty days, with a temperature of 39 degrees, and in the hottest term it is possible to keep poultry in a frozen state in this refrigerator. Mr. Pike contemplates introducing cars constructed on the same principle on the principal railroad lines, and by their means it will be possible to export game to the Eastern States. He took a car load of peaches from Chicago to Worcester, Mass., last season, and astounded the people there by bringing them into market in splendid condition. The advantage of Mr. Pike's patent over the old style of refrigerator is obvious. The latter consists of zinc-lined boxes, into which lumps of ice are put, and they can never be kept for a great length of time continuously at an even temperature. In the new patent the temperature is completely under control, and can be regulated at will, according to the quality of the ice with which the receivers are charged. All the companies run cars on the old refrigerator principle, but in these it is impossible to get a temperature lower than 60 degrees in warm weather, while peaches should have a temperature not higher than 34 degrees or 40 degrees, and for game and poultry the thermometer should be still lower. A company has been organized in Providence, which has bought the patent and the transportation right for the whole United States, and intend to run cars on this principle, on all the lines of railroad. If successful, this enterprise will give a great stimulus to the shipment of perishable articles all the year round. It will remove the principal obstacles to the shipment of game from Chicago to the markets of the East; and hence, by the increase of railroad facilities bringing in large supplies on the one hand, and the increase of facilities for transportation on the other, the game market of Chicago is destined to grow in importance from year to year, its prosperity being only limited by the quality of game to be found, and the capacity of birds and beasts to propagate their species, and repair the ravages made in their tribe by the unerring rifles of our Western huntsmen.

More than 20 species of birds were sold in the Chicago Market from 1857 to 1885. Quail, prairie chickens, wild ducks (i.e., mallard et al.), canvasback and passenger pigeon were among the most prominent. Especially important during the early years, were the number of offered for sale. This value was typically indicated by the dozens, with variable prices indicated by the market report in the newspaper.

17 November 2014

Fowl Prices for the Thanksgiving Holiday in 1864

A families menu for Thanksgiving meal in 1864 might have included several sorts of wild birds. To get some wild meat for the holiday meal, it was simply a matter of walking down the street in two of the biggest cities of the U.S.A.

Details for market prices from New York City and Washington D.C. indicate particular prices for this holiday, 150 years ago. These local newspapers gave the cost of goods at the market, so the actual purchase cost is readily known, along with other items that could have been bought.

These are the details for New York City, where an epicure or home cook had a wide variety of game bird species from which to pick and choose for their holiday meal. These prices were reported in the New York Daily Tribune issue of November 19th.

  • ducks, wood, per pair, $1.00
  • ducks, mallard, per pair, $1.25 @ 1.50
  • ducks, canvas back, per pair, $4.50 @ 5.00
  • ducks, red-head, per pair, $2.00 @ 2.50
  • ducks, teal, per pair, 75 c @ 87
  • woodcock, per pair, $1.25
  • partridges, per pair, $1.25 @ 1.50
  • prairie chickens, per pair, $2.00
  • quail, per dozen, $4.25 @ 4.50
  • robins, per dozen, $1.00 @ 1.25
  • squab pigeons, each, 30 c @ 37

Quite a variety of edibles could be found among the aisles of this market! More than ten species are represented in these details.

These details are for the Center (a.k.a. Centre) Market, in the nation's capitol, as given in the Washington D.C. Evening Star issue of November 26th on page three. Among the commodities were:

Small birds, per bunch, 50c. Wild pigeons, per pair, 37 ½c. Blue wing ducks, per pair $1. Widgeons, per pair, $1. Wild turkeys, $2.50. Partridges, doz., $2.50 @ $3.

There were also generic geese and turkeys available.

This historic place dominated the intersection of Seventh Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, for many decades. Items in the newspaper convey the reported price for many species of birds from at least 1856 to 1885. Fowl of many sorts were a key feature at many city markets during this era, with a vibrant trade underway, as the birds were harvested in the country and then shipped, usually via railway to the bigger cities, and then actively sold. For local markets, acquisition requirements were a gun, ammunition and a wagon, and a purchaser with cash and a newspaper advertisement.

Some Game Bird Prices at Rock Island

History of market prices as especially presented on the pages of the Rock Island Argus, convey some interesting details for wild birds ready to be bought.

Market prices were indicated by the newspaper starting at least in 1870. There were no found mentions of wild birds being sold, though domestic chickens, turkeys and geese were available for purchase.

There are several dates when the prices associated with the Rock Island Market are presented upon a newspaper page, under the banner: Rock Island Market, starting in the early 1870s. The subtitle was Poultry, with three items of interest indicated. They were Prairie Chickens, Snipe and Quail.

Valuations were given, as considered for January 1877 through May 1878, as discovered by searching the pages of this newspaper, as available at the Chronicling America website.

Records considered are from January 21, 1877. Those, of final consideration are from May in 1878. During this period, the prices in the market for prairie chickens, snipe and quail never changed.

Prairie Chickens: 25 @ 30 c each
Snipe: 1.00 @ 1.25 per dozen
Quail: 1.00 @ 1.25 per dozen

The valuation did not change for the dates.

Thus, the historic importance is lesser, since, there are only a few dates available and no indicated variety in pricing. Other locales associated with the prices of game in local markets are much more expressive, and thus more important to any consideration of historic ornithology.

A page-by-page evaluation of each issue will certainly indicate more details for the game market at Rock Island, and contribute further to historic ornithology, especially for the upper Mississippi River region.

Original Poetry. Spring.

How pleasant 'tis in early spring,
To hear the pretty robin sing;
To hear the cooing of the dove,
Which fills our hearts with warmest love.
To see the pretty grass so green,
Oh, what a soul refreshing scene!
The sight of birds and insect's gay,
The lovely warble of the jay.
The red bird with his mellow sound,
While tripping lightly o'er the ground,
Creating joy where'er he goes,
Just like the fragrance of the rose.
The lark which rises up so high,
His song the sweetest when most high;
The goose which takes its northward coarse,
With wing so strong and croak so hoarse.
The pigeon with unwearied wing,
Gives token of an early spring;
The cat-bid with its changing tone;
The bull-frog with his mighty moan.
The ant begins its summer toils,
The lazy serpent then recoils;
The daffo with its yellow hue,
Peeps forth to greet the earliest dew.
The Easter flowers next appears,
To note the passing of the years;
And all is joy, and all is love,
Reflected from our home above.


April 5, 1860. Belmont Chronicle 4(15): 1.

10 November 2014

Sunday Outing at Levi Carter Park

Sunday, November 9th was a fine morning so much of the hours were spent bicycling about Levi Carter Park and local environs, looking around and doing a bird survey as well.

Geese Awaiting Transfer

The flock of seven Toulouse geese that hang around Kiwanis Park are waiting for their seasonal transport to warmer winter settings. They are to be moved to winter quarters at N.P. Dodge Park, according to Brook Bench, director of Omaha Parks and Recreation. The birds are expected to be moved by Thanksgiving.

Hybrid Goose

An unusual hyrid goose was noticed among a flock of Canada geese and a single Toulouse Goose foraging on the grass next to the lake at the southeast portion of the park. Its parentage is not known.

Tire Disposal

The usual thrown away tire present at the park was much greater than usual at the north parking lot, near the boat dock. The number in this pile will be added to the 501 already that have been hauled away by park staff, since January 1, 2014.

Dirtwork at Public Works Facility

These are several views of the dirtwork being done along Carter Lake Boulevard by the Omaha Public Works Facility, at their debris holding facility.

The Corps of Engineers is requiring Omaha Public Works to mitigate for previously placing fill in wetlands, yet this very recent dirtwork appears to be doing more of the same. The cattails are an obvious indication of a wetland.

Trash Removal

The final task of the morning, and the visit, was to remove some trash from the northwest pond, natural wildlife area. Most of it was along the railroad tracks, and either newspaper or plastic.

Bloviating Political Candidates

These political candidate signs indicate how politicians are so full of hot air. A city of Omaha ordinance requires timely removal of this sort of trash real soon after the elections, but that obviously is not being done. This group is eastward of 45th and Hamilton Street, adjacent to the playground of Walnut Hill School, while bicycling past, and also while removing aluminum trash from the city streets. Signs go up quick, but can be removed so slow, and sometimes it takes a local resident to finally do the job!

07 November 2014

State Game Agency and R-Project Review

This email was received 4 November from the Nebraska Game and Parks in response to an inquiry on the r-project.

"Thank you for your email inquiry below dated Monday, October 27, 2014. Each year, we review over 1,000 different projects following a similar review process for each one. We are considering conducting a public webinar in order to give citizens a better understanding of how we conduct environmental reviews. However, we do not plan on using a hearing on any particular issue to explain this process. Individuals are welcome to contact us regarding our involvement in a given project, and we are certainly willing to explain what our role has been.

"For the R-Project, staff of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC) have been involved in more than 15 meetings, conference calls and site visits with the Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and other project specialists to discuss the project’s potential impacts on endangered and threatened species and other species of concern. NPPD presented the “Project Area” to NGPC and USFWS staff for the first time on December 12, 2012 and requested input. At this initial meeting, an inquiry was made regarding the location of the transmission line through the Sandhills, and we asked if they could consider a completely different “Project Area” that wouldn’t go through the Sandhills. We pointed out some different ideas and suggestions on a map. NPPD’s response was that they were following the directive from the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) to build a line that generally went from the Gerald Gentleman Station (GGS), to a substation near or in Cherry County, and then east to tie into Western Area Power Association’s Ft. Thompson to Grand Island line in the general Holt/Antelope/Wheeler County area. We do not have an opportunity to partake in the SPP’s decision-making process regarding the general location of transmission lines designed to meet regional needs, such as the R-Project.

"After the initial meeting, NGPC and USFWS staff had an opportunity to review the “Project Area” in more detail, and determined there were specific areas of concern pertaining to wildlife. This information was provided to NPPD during two separate meetings in 2013. NPPD took this information into consideration, along with all their other routing criteria, as they narrowed the “Project Area” down to “Project Corridors.” As we recommended, the “Project Corridors” were sited away from some of the densest populations of American burying beetles, and away from some of the larger wetland clusters. We also advised that areas of highest bird use around Birdwood Creek be avoided, but this was not entirely possible. Given the general location of the project and the other criteria NPPD must consider, all sensitive wildlife areas and natural habitats cannot be avoided. Additional meetings were held prior to NPPD’s selection of the preferred and alternative routes.

"As previously mentioned, NGPC staff expressed concern regarding this project’s placement through the Sandhills. However, we do not have regulatory authority when it comes to protecting the Sandhills. Consequently, there is not a mechanism for us to prevent the project from going through this landscape. As we do with all projects, we recommend constructing along existing corridors or in areas with existing disturbance. We have worked with NPPD to develop measures to avoid and minimize impacts to listed species to the extent possible. Mitigation for all unavoidable impacts on endangered and threatened species will be required and will result in a net benefit for the affected species.

"As required by statute, the Nebraska Power Review Board consulted with us on this project pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat §37-807(3) of the Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Act. An environmental review letter was issued on September 11, 2014, and a minor correction to the letter was issued on September 22, 2014.

04 November 2014

Weed Removal from Happy Hollow Trail Barriers

A viny and rank growth of weeds on barriers along the Happy Hollow recreational trail on the east side of Memorial Park, was somewhat removed by staff of the Omaha Parks and Recreation Department at the end of October.

There were a some places where the crawly vines had completely covered the metal barriers, so city workers arrived to address the situation, following the end of the growing season. Much of the street-side vegetation was removed by the city of Omaha workers, with at least a primary portion of the metal barriers newly visible from the adjacent boulevard.

In some places the work was, however, done in quite a shabby manner. Numerous barren vines remained, sticking through the barriers in several places. Elsewhere, vines were not entirely removed as they could have been. After the city work, the creek side of the barriers still had numerous weedy growth still clinging to them. Some of the tree and shrub plantings put in places associated with creek channel changes, had many threads of vines threatening the free-growth of the foliage, which was paid for by Omaha residents.

Thankfully, some of the plants which sprouted and tried in their own manner along Happy Hollow Creek were not cleared. Especially the sunflowers, which are a nice bit of natural flora to enjoy, and which some birds also do appreciate.

Since the work done by paid employees was not complete, and thus not suitable, on Sunday afternoon, November 2nd, my volunteer effort for a part of the afternoon was to remove more of the weedy vines. Special attention was given to where the unwanted plants were threatening the preferred plantings. During the time at the scene, many people went past along the trail, and they were mostly clueless about what was going on. At least one neighborhood resident, with a unique awareness, did stop and chat for a minute or two, and expressed her appreciation and verbal thanks for what was being done.

Next time this sort of weed-pulling may occur, the gloves worn need to provide better coverage for the wrists, to avoid unnecessary skin damage from the abrasive plant stalks. The red lines and a bit of more expressive vivid wounds were because the weeds were pulled from among the late-season grass, from off the planted trees and shrubs, and away from the barricades structures. Sometimes the yanking was easy, other times there was assistance needed, and that was done with small clippers — as borrowed — and appropriately pulled from the pocket to snip one or many vines. There is no resultant pain but only time will heal the multiple abrasions.

My effort was to done improve the setting along Happy Hollow Creek, which very few people make an effort to do. There is no way that suitable attention and maintenance will be done by City of Omaha workers, despite many requests asking them to give the trail some attention, and in a timely manner.

A pile of removed debris was left by a sign along the trailway. What happens with it may be seen in coming days? There was no change in its extent on Monday, mid-morning, though it shrank a few inches in height due to plant drying.

The work needed along this trail is still no not done. More weeds need to be removed. More preferred plants need some attentive care. One obvious thing ... the work will certainly not be done by City of Omaha workers!

There is an obvious need for further volunteer efforts. For example, it would have been nice if the parks officials had coordinated with work with the Dundee - Memorial Park Neighborhood Association. Volunteers could have helped remove the unwanted vegetation, including some tree trimming/removal of trash trees along the creekway and perhaps some a park cleanup.

During this outing, some tree limbs here and there along the sidewalks of Underwood Avenue were also appropriately trimmed, to provide the legally required eight feet of clearance for someone traversing the pedestrian right-of-way, whether while walking or bicycling. The small pieces of branches were also languishing along the way on Monday, November 3rd.

Pile of weedy vines that were removed from a section of a barrier.

Supposed Rain Garden Asset a Mess in Dundee

Many hundreds of thousands of dollars were recently spent to improve the street-scape of the central Dundee business district. Streets and sidewalks were improved. Multiple large trees were torn down and new saplings planted. There are new benches to sit on. A huge rock adorns one public area, as if it is something important? It certainly does not indicate anything of significance!

A key feature of the project was a supposed rain-garden, at the northwest corner of 50th Street and Underwood Avenue.

It is a forlorn and though not forgotten, continues to be a spot amidst the Dundee business district to mess with, since its final condition has not yet been met, though there have been many different things done to achieve some a whole bunch of nothing.

Looking now at this itty-bitty space at the intersection, there is nothing more than a bunch of landscape chips, a pile of dirt, a piece or two of plywood covering a hole, and an orange barrier fence and cones with OPPD lettering indicating they are there for purposes of the Omaha Public Power District. On the adjacent sidewalk, there are marks for utilities. Work was done to provide a new power connection cabinet for the nearby traffic signals.

There are no plants growing, except for one weed. It is no sort of a green space. There is, alas, no way that this place is contributing in any sort to reducing storm-water runoff, as intended by a plan presented and accepted by residents.

It seems somewhat disingenuous that the City of Omaha paid some contractor to construct a feature that is not actually in the condition as indicated by published plans. There was supposed to be a variety of plants, including,

It is not certain if and when this will occur, and this feature will become an asset to the central Dundee business district.

View on November 1st.

01 November 2014

Chain Lake and Wetlands Threatened by Industrial Powerline

Chain Lake is a remote wetland in southern Holt county, eastern Sand Hills, which through a wonderful juxtaposition was visited many times to record the wildbirds present. Just to its south, and extending into Garfield county is another extensive wetland, with Rush lakebed adjacent to this place.

Each of these wetlands are habitat havens, as they have been for decades and changing centuries.

Now, an industrial powerline — The R-Project — is being proposed by the Nebraska Public Power District which would slice through the setting associated with these three wetland places.

NPPD has not indicated what legislation gives them permission to construct the so-called "r-project" and they have made no known attempt to convey what factors they have considered in determining the "preferred" corridor for this project which will impact so many miles of sandhill's terrain.

The company is dictating to the residents what will happen. The land-owners have not been given any option other than to accept the dictates of the company, which has made decisions based also upon perspectives made by bureaucrats associated with the Southwest Power Pool.

Chain Lake Bird Survey Dates

27 February: 1
4 March: 13
13 March: 2
17 March: 7
21 March: 15
25 March: 3
28 March: 1
30 March: 10
31 March: 1
4 April: 8
17 April: 14
22 April: 25
27 April: 7
3 May: 19
9 May: 17
11 May: 2
14 May: 1
15 May: 12
16 May: 7
22 May: 1
23 May: 42
31 May: 16
5 June: 1
13 June: 30
22 June: 24
25 June: 1
5 July: 30
14 July: 35
15 July: 3
25 July: 29
10 August: 25
18 August: 18
28 August: 1
6 September: 29
14 September: 19
19 September: 24
28 September: 18
5 October: 19
12 October: 1
14 October: 11
31 October: 11
12 November: 5

1991 with a focus primarily on shorebird occurrence
7 April: 2
14 April: 2
20 April: 1
21 April: 4
27 April: 9
5 May: 14
12 May: 7
22 May: 7
23 May: 1
29 May: 9
7 June: 3
12 June: 2
20 June: 3
4 July: 5
12 July: 6
20 July: 8
27 July: 5
15 August: 10
26 August: 6
1 September: 8
18 September: 5
30 September: 3

The values indicated are the number of species recorded for the given date. Not all species were denoted, since the intent was to record waterfowl and shorebird occurrence.

These surveys were done by Loren Blake, an avid birder that lived on a ranch west of Chambers, in southern Holt county. These records are part of his legacy for this area of the Sand Hills.

There have been 114 species recorded at this location, based upon more than 675 distinct records:

  • Greater White-fronted Goose: a total of 132 on three dates in April 1990
  • Canada Goose: 419 during April to May, then July to November, 1990
  • Gadwall: 114; March through October 1990 with a peak count of fifty on 13 June 1990
  • American Wigeon: 104; March through May 1990, and then early in October; peak count 75 on 30 March 1990
  • Mallard: 1314; several counts of more than 100, with 300 denoted on 12 November 1990
  • Blue-winged Teal: 135 on thirteen counts from mid-April to late-September
  • Northern Shoveler: 285 from seventeen dates of occurrence, with greatest numbers from 30-50
  • Northern Pintail: 760 for seventeen counts; mid-April was the when there were 120 present on two dates
  • Green-winged Teal: 133; primarily from mid-March to later in April, 1990
  • Redhead: 91 from nine dates of record; largest count 30 on 22 June 1990
  • Ring-necked Duck: 23, from three dates, two in March and one in October, both in 1990
  • Lesser Scaup: 237, from March 21 to May 9, 1990
  • Bufflehead: 17, denoted on two spring visits
  • Common Goldeneye: 21 in March 1990
  • Hooded Merganser: 2 on 31 March 1990
  • Common Merganser: 166, with 150 seen on 3 March 1990
  • Ruddy Duck: 37 associated with seven dates
  • Sharp-tailed Grouse: 1
  • Greater Prairie-Chicken: 17
  • Pied-billed Grebe: 2, with one seen on two days, one in March and the other in July, both during 1990
  • Horned Grebe: 10 on 21 March 1990
  • Eared Grebe: 2 on 31 May 1990
  • American White Pelican: 60 on seven date
  • Double-crested Cormorant: 55 on nine dates
  • Great Blue Heron: 1
  • Cattle Egret: 1 on 9 May 1990
  • Bald Eagle: 63, with counts of 20 (13 March 1990), 12 (17 and 21 March 1990) and 10 (mostly adults on 4 March 1990)
  • Northern Harrier: 3, with only one seen on three different dates
  • Swainson's Hawk: 2
  • Red-tailed Hawk: 4, with only one seen on four different dates
  • American Kestrel: 4, with only one seen on four different dates
  • Prairie Falcon: 2
  • American Coot: 142, associated with twelve dates, the peak number being 100 on 22 April 1990
  • Sandhill Crane: 12 on 31 October 1990
  • Black-bellied Plover: 1 on 16 May 1990
  • American Golden-Plover: 6 on 14 September 1990
  • Semipalmated Plover: 11 in 1990 and 22 in 1991, based upon ten records, with the largest number (15) seen on 27 April 1991
  • Piping Plover at Chain Lake: one on 20 April, one on 27 April and one on 5 May, all in 1991 for this threatened species in Nebraska
  • Killdeer: 28 in 1990 and 699 in 1991; a breeding season resident as indicated by at least 140 dates of occurrence; peak number 84 on 01 September 1991
  • American Avocet: 4 in 1990 and 22 in 1991 from eleven counts; there were eleven present on 1 September 1991, as seen by Loren Blake
  • Greater Yellowlegs: 1 in 1990 and 5 in 1991
  • Lesser Yellowlegs: 14 in 1990 and 88 in 1991
  • Willet: 1 in 1990 and 13 in 1991
  • Spotted Sandpiper: 10 in 1990 and 51 in 1991
  • Upland Sandpiper: 5 in 1990
  • Long-billed Curlew: 1 in 1990
  • Marbled Godwit; six in mid-April 1990
  • Sanderling: 56 in 1990 and 1 in 1991
  • Semipalmated Sandpiper: 13 in 1990 and 338 in 1991
  • Western Sandpiper: 11 in 1990 and 31 in 1991
  • Least Sandpiper: 14 in 1990 and 33 in 1991
  • White-rumped Sandpiper: 275 in 1991
  • Baird's Sandpiper: 45 in 1990 and 288 in 1991
  • Pectoral Sandpiper: 3 in 1990
  • Dunlin: 1 in 1991
  • Stilt Sandpiper: 7 in 1990 and 117 in 1991
  • Buff-breasted Sandpiper: 6 in 1990
  • Short-billed Dowitcher: 4 in 1990 and 9 in 1991
  • Long-billed Dowitcher: 38 in 1990 and 52 in 1991
  • Wilson's Phalarope; numerous records, with a count of 1000 on 27 April 1991 and other counts of 200 or more in May of the same year
  • Red-necked Phalarope: 20 in 1990 and 4 in 1991
  • Franklin's Gull: 4
  • Bonaparte's Gull; five in late May 1990
  • Ring-billed Gull: 67
  • Black Tern: 17
  • Mourning Dove: 15
  • Great Horned Owl: 7
  • Common Nighthawk: 2
  • Red-headed Woodpecker: 8
  • Downy Woodpecker: 3
  • Northern Flicker: 11
  • Least Flycatcher: 5
  • Western Kingbird: 8
  • Eastern Kingbird: 9
  • Loggerhead Shrike: 2
  • Warbling Vireo: 1
  • Blue Jay: 1
  • Black-billed Magpie: 1
  • American Crow: 4
  • Horned Lark: 9
  • Tree Swallow: 1
  • Northern Rough-winged Swallow: 16
  • Barn Swallow: 13
  • Black-capped Chickadee: 3
  • House Wren: 4
  • Eastern Bluebird: 50
  • Mountain Bluebird: 2
  • Swainson's Thrush: 2
  • American Robin: 13
  • Northern Mockingbird: 1
  • Brown Thrasher: 5
  • European Starling: 8
  • American Pipit: 102
  • Yellow Warbler: 2
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler: 2
  • American Tree Sparrow: 1
  • Chipping Sparrow: 6
  • Field Sparrow: 1
  • Vesper Sparrow: 3
  • Lark Sparrow: 8
  • Lark Bunting: 1
  • Savannah Sparrow: 3
  • Grasshopper Sparrow: 1
  • Lapland Longspur: 50
  • Dickcissel: 1
  • Red-winged Blackbird: 8
  • Eastern Meadowlark: 1
  • Western Meadowlark: 14
  • Common Grackle: 3
  • Brown-headed Cowbird: 4
  • Orchard Oriole: 1
  • Baltimore Oriole: 4
  • Red Crossbill: 8
  • American Goldfinch: 8

The bird diversity associated with Chain Lake extends to the south in association with other nearby wetlands.

To place an industrial powerline with it towers and hanging wire hazards across the different wetlands present south of Chain Lake indicates a lack of concern for wildbirds or some other sort of ignorance by NPPD officials.


Blake, L.E. 1988. Connecticut warbler. Nebraska Bird Review 56: 99. Blake, L.E. 1989a. Sprague's pipit. Nebraska Bird Review 57: 32. Blake, L.E. 1989b. Winter wren. Nebraska Bird Review 57: 96. Blake, L.E. 1989c. Black-headed grosbeak. Nebraska Bird Review 57: 96. Blake, L.E. 1990a. Nesting trumpeter swans. Nebraska Bird Review 58: 106. Blake, L.E. 1990b. Buff-breasted sandpipers. Nebraska Bird Review 58: 107. Blake, L.E. and J.E. Ducey. 1990. A comparison of historic and modern birdlife at an eastern Sand Hills lake in Nebraska. Nebraska Bird Review 58: 100-104. Loren B. Blake and Jim Ducey. 1991. Birds of the eastern Sand Hills in Holt County, Nebraska. Nebraska Bird Review 59: 103-132. Ducey, Jim and J. Schoenenberger. September, 1991. Some birds of the Pony Lake area of the eastern Sandhills, Nebraska. Nebraska Bird Review 59: 55-58.