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  1. TopTop #1
    O.W.'s Avatar
    O.W.
     

    City worker destroys beloved swallow colony

    This is the second time for this guy.....appalling!


    City worker destroys beloved swallow colony

    By Laura Hagar Rush, Sonoma West Editor, [email protected]
    Updated
    Name:  5cdc57d341b5d.image_.jpg
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    These swallow flew from Argentina to nest here. 200 nests with baby chicks were destroyed.
    A city employee decided to do this on his own…..
    This photo taken a week and a half prior to destruction of active nests.

    On Thursday, May 2, a city employee of the Sebastopol Public Works Department, doing what he thought was “routine maintenance” destroyed a barn swallow colony of over 200 nests on the side of the Community Center Teen Annex.

    A few days later, this employee had the bad luck to run into Veronica Bowers of Native Songbird Care & Conservation in Sebastopol, who had been tipped off to the destruction by several phone calls.She was on site documenting the remains — a few broken nest parts and broken egg shells — because she was developing evidence to turn over to Fish and Game.Destroying the nests of songbirds during the active breeding season is against both state and federal law.

    When she noticed a truck from Public Works in the parking lot, she asked the employee if he knew what had happed, and he admitted he had removed the nests. He hadn’t done it under orders, he said, just on his own accord.

    “I explained that these birds are protected by state and federal law,” she said. “You can’t harm the adults, the chicks or the eggs, and as soon as you observe confirmed activity, you are required to stop immediately. That goes for tree-trimmers, builders, anyone who is interfacing with federally protected birds, you must cease work and get away … As soon as he saw the first egg fall, he should have stopped.”

    Alas, he didn’t. The entire colony was wiped out.

    The complication is that the Public Works employee had destroyed nests on this same building just a few months before — with no consequences. According to Bowers, that’s because it’s OK to remove swallow nests in winter, when there are no birds in residence. (It’s actually a service since it keeps them from being colonized by house sparrows the following spring.)

    Destroying active nests in spring is another thing altogether, Bowers said.

    “Those cliff swallows flew all the way from Argentina to come here and nest in Sonoma County and raise their young and then they will fly all the way back to Argentina at the end of August,” she said. “So they exerted a lot of energy to get here and to make those nests. Each one of those nests has about 1,500 little pellets of mud — so that’s 1,500 trips back and forth from the dairy next door to gather the mud and build their nests.”

    At the very least, Bowers said, it was a failure of training at the Public Works Department.
    “I feel like the city has failed these swallows miserably and the community who loves them,” she said.
    She also feels the employee should have known better.

    “Cliff swallows are not quiet when someone is interfering with their colony. There were over 200 nests that are in that colony, so you have almost 500 adult birds who at that point would have been swarming and making a lot of alarm calls. That alone should have tipped him off that something was wrong. But it didn’t. He’s watching all this death happening before his eyes, and he continued to do the work.”

    According to Public Works Director Dante Del Prete, “This individual is very remorseful now that he understands the situation.”

    Continues here
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  3. TopTop #2
    Shepherd's Avatar
    Shepherd
    Supporting Member

    Re: City worker destroys beloved swallow colony

    He should immediately be fired and sent to prison for this crime. He knew what he was doing. "Remorse" is not enough of a response. Swallows have feelings and should be protected.

    Quote O.W. wrote: View Post
    This is the second time for this guy.....appalling!

    City worker destroys beloved swallow colony

    Continues here
    Last edited by Barry; 05-23-2019 at 04:21 PM.
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  5. TopTop #3
    Fortunecookie
     

    Re: City worker destroys beloved swallow colony



    It's hearbreaking to know this Cliff Swallow colony - with the birds flying all the way from Argentina to set up their nests and raise their young, has been destroyed. Its also heartbreaking that another human being has done this, and a City employee who they have not named in article. The City of Sebastopol needs to be held accountable for this terrible tragedy. The whole community should be in mourning over this. It is so sad - the entire colony lost for nesting season. Why hasn't the City of Sebastopol Public Works followed its own procedures and policies? Which human is responsible ?? A public apology on the website for Sebastopol is informative, but it cannot bring back the mature eggs that were in nests ready to hatch or hatchlings that were very likely in many of the nests. I don't know anyone who believes the employee who claims he removed the entire 200 nests and there weren't hatchlings or eggs that were definitely right on the verge of hatching.

    ---

    Let's see if Dept. of Fish and Wildlife pursues this- few believe they will, but they have been asked. If there were more prosecutions , people might think twice beforehand. It is so sick!
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  7. TopTop #4
    O.W.'s Avatar
    O.W.
     

    Re: City worker destroys beloved swallow colony

    Two things struck me, species on our planet are going extinct fast so we need to protect better. Second, I think I reacted strongly to this as I have read for years the connection of cruelty to animals to cruelty of people as the next step. This action (twice) is NOT our values. This guy needs help, totally unconscious. There is a link and the FBI has documented it as well as many psychologists: The Link: Cruelty to Animals and Violence Towards People ...

    Last edited by Barry; 05-23-2019 at 05:37 PM.
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  9. TopTop #5
    jesswolfe's Avatar
    jesswolfe
     

    Re: City worker destroys beloved swallow colony

    I had the same thought. If someone is able to kill a whole colony of birds, including babies, there’s something wrong. I have to wonder if this person is ok. How can you not react to the idea of killing animals? Until someone says what you did was illegal?
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  11. TopTop #6
    O.W.'s Avatar
    O.W.
     

    Re: City worker destroys beloved swallow colony

    Yes, it was an illegal act. Ms. Bowers (bird rescue) pointed that out and said she would not file charges in lieu of training. Why didn't the supervisor do something as this same person had done the same thing earlier with no consequences. The supervisor is asleep at the switch.

    Quote jesswolfe wrote: View Post
    I had the same thought. If someone is able to kill a whole colony of birds, including babies, there’s something wrong. I have to wonder if this person is ok. How can you not react to the idea of killing animals? Until someone says what you did was illegal?
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  13. TopTop #7
    sealwatcher's Avatar
    sealwatcher
     

    Re: City worker destroys beloved swallow colony

    I believe Bowers said that the nests could be removed in winter once the birds had gone. So the first removal was not illegal. The second, however, was not only illegal but inexplicable with the birds flying about shouting and the shells falling with the nests. I remain puzzled and saddened.
    Last edited by Barry; 05-26-2019 at 11:41 AM.
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  15. TopTop #8

    Re: City worker destroys beloved swallow colony

    Let's crucify him. Tomorrow, after the farmer's market in the town square.
    Last edited by Barry; 05-26-2019 at 11:41 AM.
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  17. TopTop #9
    Thad's Avatar
    Thad
     

    Re: City worker destroys beloved swallow colony

    I think there must be a statistical number for the percentage of humans that do stupid things and waiting around for them to do it would be so tedious. So, I say take that number and off with their heads just like that. I'm sure we'd get a few. Its not that there's a dearth of people anyway there's no rarity there.
    I vote for burning at the stake. Then we can watch the torture instead of hiding it behind prison walls.

    Quote Dorothy Friberg wrote: View Post
    Let's crucify him. Tomorrow, after the farmer's market in the town square.
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  18. TopTop #10
    rossmen
     

    Re: City worker destroys beloved swallow colony

    Fake news, we have our impostrous president to thank for evolving our pigeon lingo. Btw, there are a few dozen nests back, with chicks and eggs, cliff swallows are resilient, we can learn from them. I don't understand why the community center gets a pass on this beneficial wildlife destruction. While the city owns the buildings and property, the community center leases and manages them. The swallows have been excluded and harassed for years with tenant knowledge/request? This story is a tragedy and the context is bureaucratic passing the buck. The city takes the fall, with a promise to follow existing rules, the employee will be retained.
    Last edited by Barry; 05-26-2019 at 11:43 AM.
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  20. TopTop #11
    Icssoma's Avatar
    Icssoma
     

    Re: City worker destroys beloved swallow colony

    the incident is uncomfortable for me as well. i'd like to offer a different perspective. some people see birds nesting in buildings/eves in the same category of wasps and gophers. (it took us several years to move swallows from the eves of our house, after nesting. they are still make seasonal homes on our property, just in other areas further from our house.)
    this situation may just require civil discussions and education. many people may have seen bees in the "undesirable category" as well--education about the importance of bees has changed that for many.
    we need conversation, open discussion and exchange of ideas (along with rules and regulations). for perspectives to change, we need a sense of a neighbors, neighborhoods and towns.
    i am deeply concerned about the "us/them" society we are creating in a growing number of areas. with 45 in office the divisions are deeper and more dangerous. (i am guilty of this as well, as i try to sort out appropriate responses to the influx of money to the bay area, and specifically the northward migration of money in our county). more than ever we need to have inclusive places to gather and learn.

    Quote jesswolfe wrote: View Post
    I had the same thought. If someone is able to kill a whole colony of birds, including babies, there’s something wrong. I have to wonder if this person is ok. How can you not react to the idea of killing animals? Until someone says what you did was illegal?
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  21. TopTop #12
    jesswolfe's Avatar
    jesswolfe
     

    Re: City worker destroys beloved swallow colony

    I appreciate the different perspective. I’m not at all suggesting an us/them attitude. I’m more concerned about the emotional toll taken by folks who don’t react to the killing of other beings. Because there is a correlation between animal abuse and abuse of other humans. This person IS us. I do, however, recognize that viewing other beings as pests gives in affect permission to continue harming others, animals or humans. I agree that our current White House resident is making it hard to unite our communities for the greater good. But in reality the attitude was here long before he was. He gives permission to be out in the open with it.

    Quote Icssoma wrote: View Post
    i'd like to offer a different perspective. some people see birds nesting in buildings/eves in the same category of wasps and gophers.
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  23. TopTop #13
    oldbaldman's Avatar
    oldbaldman
     

    Re: City worker destroys beloved swallow colony

    This is sad. We had cliff swallows nesting on our house, under the eaves, until a few years ago when their numbers began to drop until last year when they didn't show up at all. We would look forward to their return each March as a harbinger of spring and a sign of the health of the colony. It was a delight to watch them build their nests, thirty five on our house at the peak, and perform their wonderful aerial displays. We would put slabs of straw below the nests and collect the nitrogen rich droppings to use in our garden. And of course we welcomed them knowing the enormous number of bugs, up to 1000 per bird per day, that they consumed, performing an important service in the bargain.

    The nests were easily rinsed off with a hose after they left. There was really no downside. We used netting to exclude them from above our deck and they seemed happy to occupy the remaining areas. During the winter we'd wonder where in South America they were hanging out and felt a sort of telepathic connection with them.

    We have felt a little gloomy wondering if whatever led to their decline and eventual absence is a sign of environmental degradation somewhere along their route or at their destination in the southern hemisphere. So we are delighted to see healthy, lively colonies on other buildings, bridges, even cliffs and would welcome their return to our site.

    This offense sounds like the work of someone confused and deluded about our relationship with the natural world and I hope Ms. Bowers can provide the kind of education this person would clearly benefit from. Welcome birds, folks, provide habitat, keep your cats indoors, visit and donate to Veronica Bowers' Native Songbird Care and Conservation facility to get informed about feeding and providing habitat for wild birds.
    Last edited by Barry; 05-27-2019 at 07:56 PM.
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  24. TopTop #14
    Weiser's Avatar
    Weiser
    Supporting Member

    Re: City worker destroys beloved swallow colony

    First it was rogue city emplyees who allowed an electrical contractor onto city property without proper permits to dig a trench that not only damaged the roots of nearby trees but also damaged the reputation of KOWS radio in the process. Now This!

    Who is riding herd on these people. Does anyone get fired? Are there serious consequences!
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  26. TopTop #15
    doghairnancy
     

    Re: City worker destroys beloved swallow colony

    I agree. Please, if you can, go to the city council meeting on June 4th. I think the president of Madrone Audubon will be there and probably Veronica Bowers from Native Bird Care and Conservation. It's frustrating to see government get passes for making serious mistakes. If we constituents make mistakes that violate laws, government makes sure we are fined and with the program.

    Quote Icssoma wrote: View Post
    the incident is uncomfortable for me as well....
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  28. TopTop #16
    MMRog
     

    Re: City worker destroys beloved swallow colony

    While not making any excuse for this tragedy, this discussion should be aware that the removal of the empty nests behind the Annex before nesting season is a routine practice that is endorsed by local bird activists. They tried leaving the nests there once during the drought, after a year when the new nests were not sticking well to the wall due to lack of good mud. It did not go well. Predatory birds took over the nests and many birds and eggs were destroyed by competition for the nests and such. It was then decided by local bird experts that the nests needed to be removed around January in order to prevent that from happening again. So the first removal of the nests was a good thing. The second was very unfortunate.
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  30. TopTop #17
    Barry's Avatar
    Barry
    Founder & Moderator

    Re: City worker destroys beloved swallow colony


    Backlash over destruction of cliff swallow colony in Sebastopol elicits city apology
    MARY CALLAHAN
    THE PRESS DEMOCRAT May 29, 2019, 6:31AM

    Excerpts:
    ...
    “This has been a nightmare beyond nightmare,” the employee, Assistant Public Works Superintendent Nathan Sutton, said earlier this month. “This has caused me lack of sleep every night. It’s a blunder, for sure, and I just hope that I can recover from it. I’m deeply regretful and sorry for the grief that I’ve caused my community and that colony.”

    But Sutton said he saw no evidence of baby birds among the detritus of the nests, and only a few egg fragments and bits of yolk lay on the ground when he was done cleaning under the building eaves.
    ...

    This year, Sutton was tasked in January with removing the nests for the first time, officials said. He said it seemed like just a short time later that he noticed nests back in the same area and thought “they shouldn’t be there.” It was his own decision to take them down, he said.

    He said he did not see birds around and was not thinking about nesting season, but just was trying to take care of business when he got a long-handled scraping tool and set to work over about a half-hour removing the mud nests. Afterward, he saw the pieces of maybe three or four eggs among the bits of broken nest and fine dirt he pried off.

    Bowers said screeching adult birds should have alerted Sutton that the nests were active. But Sutton said he witnessed no such activity as he went about his work, wearing earplugs and facing the wall.

    “After it (the colony) was on the ground there were birds up in the air, naturally, I guess,” he said.
    ...

    Del Prete described Sutton as “visibly, physically upset when he finally understood the ramifications of his actions.”
    ...

    Full article here





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  32. TopTop #18

    Re: City worker destroys beloved swallow colony

    Yeah, he should be upset. And I'm glad he realizes what a mistake he made.

    The good news is that when I was at the Love Choir there in the Annex on Wed. night I went out on the deck to watch the sparrows as I do when they're around and saw several of them flying in around sunset as they do this time of year. Looked like they'd rebuilt their nests and hopefully were feeding some young as they usually do, too. No where near their usual number but busy busy as they usually are in late spring.

    So--where there's life there's hope, right?

    Lilith

    PS. See everyone at Peacetown soon.
    Last edited by Barry; 05-31-2019 at 12:41 PM.
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  34. TopTop #19
    Shandi's Avatar
    Shandi
     

    Re: City worker destroys beloved swallow colony

    What I notice is that if you've got the money (ie power), you get the "pass". A perfect example is the leader? of our country. If the "Controller" or "Dominator" can get away with anything, so can anyone connected in the chain of command, all the way down to the lowest denominator of county/city power. I don't look for justice from anyone but myself. My trust has disintegrated drastically, even with doctors and veterinarians.

    Education is helpful, if people are willing to hear it. If only it could be infused in the water or wine~ so the masses could become enlightened....if only.......

    Quote doghairnancy wrote: View Post
    I agree. Please, if you can, go to the city council meeting on June 4th. I think the president of Madrone Audubon will be there and probably Veronica Bowers from Native Bird Care and Conservation. It's frustrating to see government get passes for making serious mistakes. If we constituents make mistakes that violate laws, government makes sure we are fined and with the program.
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  36. TopTop #20
    rossmen
     

    Re: City worker destroys beloved swallow colony

    Something real would be the nets taken down. I'll do it with permission. I'll do a really good job too, even sign a liability waver before I go up the ladder. It so frustrating for me trying to volunteer with public agencies. Because they don't know what they are doing. Tied by liability, tethered to paid advice, human centric thinking, so the world dies.
    Last edited by Barry; 06-02-2019 at 01:41 PM.
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