Burrow Bites

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Saving Burrowing Owls Solar Project

Saving Desert Birds from Large-Scale Solar Projects

From Arizona to Nevada to California, Urban Bird Foundation’s Scott Artis has been injected into largescale desert solar projects to safeguard burrowing owls from construction activities. Although these projects had already been approved, it was early enough in the process to ensure measures to protect rare and sensitive species were implemented onsite.

Because burrowing owls live and nest underground by using the burrows of squirrels, skunks, badgers and other fossorial mammals, these unique raptors can easily be overlooked during construction activities. In addition to ensuring biological monitors remain onsite for the protection of all wildlife, it was imperative that construction personnel receive proper training on identification and protection of endangered, threatened and sensitive species like burrowing owls.

Since 2010, Artis has trained thousands of construction and solar company workers through multilingual educational, training and documentary videos. More than 8 movies have been produced in English and Spanish, tailored to desert habitats including the Mojave Desert, Imperial Valley as well as working with Native Americans on the Moapa River tribal lands of the Southern Paiute people in Nevada. These movies are part of a mandatory training regimen for personnel working on these solar construction sites.

When a project is approved and slated for development having exhausted measures to protect habitat, Urban Bird Foundation shifts focus to ensuring the preservation of as many birds and other wildlife as possible.

2 Responses

  1. Karen Dorfman

    Fantastic! Question: Is there anything solar PVC installations can do to prevent flocks of water birds from mistaking the expansive black for ponds and crash landing on them? I recall reading about thousands of birds being killed this way. Also they mistake winding black asphalt roads for a winding creek.

  2. Biologists and activists are sounding the alarm about the fauna, flora, and natural landscape, especially in deserts. Because we are all aware that we have to deal with many negative issues about the environment and climate change. New transmission lines also increase the risk of collisions, and burning birds. Installing a solar system exacerbates threats to bird life in the area. But fortunately, we still have some successful defenses and you are among them. I am very grateful for that and I want to thank you for bringing such a meaningful program.

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