The Migratory Bird Crew was established with the goal of removing mine claim markers from the Nevada landscape. Before 1993, mine claims could be marked with hollow plastic PVC pipes. Cavity nesting birds, especially mountain bluebirds, have been entering and becoming trapped in these markers. Starting on Novemeber 1, 2011, the law changed to allow for the removal of these markers.
The first hitch for our crew started with the Corps Members arriving in Los Angeles only to be whisked away to Angeles National Forest where they spent 2.5 days earning Wilderness First Aid certifications. The WFA class was followed by a 6 hour drive to Red Rocks National Conservation Area, where the crew spent a windy night under the stars.
The crew received more training from our Bureau of Land Management contact Amelia Savage to pull mine markers and collect data. The first field day after training, the team found 8 mine markers, and 57 bird skulls. Most members took this first field day to reflect on how many birds are killed in mine claim markers. It was disturbing to pull up some markers and not find any dead birds only to pull up markers that contain 19 or more bird skulls. The crew has been learning to adjust to their new life in the hot and dry climate of the desert, and everyone is looking forward to learning to identify the bird skulls they find from BLM staff on the next hitch.