Field Biology

Protect the Egg

The city of Henderson is in the process of building a park around a catch basin, where rain water collects and forms a year-round pond. This is a sweet place for migratory birds to stop off and and lay an egg or two, and under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act the city has to have a biologist (me!) keep the birdies safe.

BG info:

Las Vegas was settled in a valley. In the basin and range situation of Southern Nevada (So Nev), we are the basin. Our basin funnels into Lake Mead, making it a desirable place to land for travel-weary rain drops. The cities of Vegas & Henderson have engineered a mostly-effective system of water diversion, draining the water off the streets & into catch basins. When the catch basins fill, the water flows down to Las Vegas Wash & into Lake Mead.

Some of the catch basins hold water all year round. People dump fish into them, an occasional turtle. Reeds grow on the sides and they develop their own little ecosystem. These ponds make excellent rest stops for migratory birds as the make their worldly rounds, and can often be a great place to see fancy kinds of birds and to watch a coyote take one out.

The city of Henderson chose their very best catch basin (I just made that up) and they are going to reshape it a little bit and make it a nice place to hang out. Oh wait, reshaping the basin, you say? That sounds like it may harm the migratory birds, something we agreed to not do with the signing of The Migratory Bird Treaty Act in 1918. An environmental law that must be adhered to…quick, call Kri$ti!

At the start of the project, our biologists hopped in a dinghy and rowed around the pond, pushing through reeds and styrofoam cups to document bird species and look for nests or eggs. A variety of migratory birds were found in the area but only one lonely egg was located. Seeing as it was the very last day of the egg-laying season, this was more than was expected. The area with the egg was flagged and was to remain undisturbed for 30 days, giving the egg time to hatch if there is a baby inside. Every few days, we check on the egg and paddle around the pond to say what’s up to our other feathered friends.

The egg

We don’t know what kind of bird it is yet. A mallard came out of the next when the egg was first discovered, but that is a BIG baby duck! The next few times the egg was checked, it was alone. Last week, a clue was left for us:

A clue?

In my professional opinion, that feather is BLUE. Do we have a baby Great Blue Heron?

Maybe. But more than likely, we have ourselves a breakfast egg. The lack of parental supervision and the solo status of the egg suggest that it’s a dud. It gets 30 days to prove it’s alive, and then that shizz get bulldozed. Your days are numbered, egg, so if you’re in there you better get crackin’. That’s what I told it.

I sure hope it’s fertile because how awkward cute would a baby GBH be??

oh wow.

Here’s more science that I did:

a flock of American Coots

American Coot.

Looking out over the pond, Frenchman Mountain in the distance

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