Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali

Start watching
SoCal Update

SoCal Update

Start watching
a large damn with graffiti of a woman with a hammer on it, mountains in the background

Earth Focus Presents

Start watching
Southland Sessions

Southland Sessions

Start watching
Professor T

Professor T (Belgium)

Start watching
Artbound

Artbound

Start watching
Emma

Emma

Start watching
Guilt

Guilt

Start watching
Line of Separation Key Art.

Line of Separation

Start watching
Us

Us

Start watching
The Latino Experience

The Latino Experience

Start watching
Key Art of "Summer of Rockets" featuring Keeley Hawes and Toby Stephens.

Summer of Rockets

Start watching
Death in Paradise Series 10

Death in Paradise

Start watching
millionaire still

KCET Must See Movies

Start watching
Independent Lens

Independent Lens

Start watching
MJ250sC-show-poster2x3-Bflky7i.png

Tending Nature

Start watching
Earth Focus

Earth Focus

Start watching
City Rising

City Rising

Start watching
Lost LA

Lost LA

Start watching
Member
Your donation supports our high-quality, inspiring and commercial-free programming.
Support Icon
Learn about the many ways to support KCET.
Support Icon
Contact our Leadership, Advancement, Membership and Special Events teams.

Caltrans Agrees to Stop Using Bird-Killing Nets

Support Provided By
cliff-swallow-1-16-14-thumb-600x381-67072
Cliff swallow looks out of its nest in Palo Alto | Photo: Ingrid Taylar/Flickr/Creative Commons License

California's transportation agency has agreed to stop using bird netting at its construction sites that ended up killing what may be hundreds of protected cliff swallows at a bridge construction project site in Sonoma County, and the agreement will influence how it conducts its projects elsewhere in the state.

According to an announcement released Thursday, Caltrans will remove netting that was intended to keep swallows from nesting on the Petaluma River Bridge and Lakeville Highway Overpass as the two adjacent Route 101 viaducts are being upgraded.

According to the group Native Songbird Care and Conservation, one of five groups that filed a federal lawsuit in May 2013 to make Caltrans get rid of the netting, more than a hundred cliff swallows had become fatally entangled in the netting by the previous month. With Thursday's settlement, the agency is agreeing to use safer measures to keep nesting birds away from its projects, including scheduling those projects to avoid nesting season.

Cliff swallows are small, gregarious birds that prefer to build their mud-plastered nests on vertical surfaces. Restricted to rock faces before the advent of large construction projects, the birds now frequently attach their nests to bridge abutments and similar structures, especially if -- as is the case with the Petaluma River crossing -- there's a nearby source of water to attract their insect prey.

Best known for their adoption of the mission at San Juan Capistrano as a nesting colony site, the swallows are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

As Maggie Sergio reported last year at Huffington Post, netting attached to the two Petaluma viaducts by Caltrans contractor C.C. Myers ended up entangling more than a dozen cliff swallows, barn swallows, and other birds every day during April 2013. As Sergio wrote, C.C. Myers' crews would remove and discard the dead birds every day and then reattach the netting, which would then -- as shown in this photo by George Eade -- kill yet more birds. Given that the intent of attaching the netting in the first place was apparently to protect swallows by keeping them from building nests in a construction site, the agency's seeming intransigence over making changes to the netting setup angered many conservationists.

Native Songbird Care and Conservation was joined in its May 2013 lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity and the Golden Gate, Madrone, and Marin Audubon Societies. According to a Center for Biological Diversity press release, the Federal Highway Administration, which is funding the Petaluma River and Lakeville Road bridge projects, is also expected to sign the agreement.

As part of the settlement, Caltrans has agreed to use other means to exclude nesting birds from its construction and demolition projects in Petaluma and elsewhere, including using rigid barriers that don't pose a risk of entanglement. The agency may also hire biologists to remove started nests from project sites before eggs have been laid, or reschedule projects to avoid nesting season entirely.

"We're pleased that Caltrans is removing the ineffective and deadly netting from these important swallow nesting locations, and will use safer measures to keep swallows from nesting in construction zones," said Veronica Bowers of Native Songbird Care and Conservation. "It's important that Caltrans continue to meet with wildlife agencies, conservation groups and our swallow expert before each nesting season during the project to assess the effectiveness of bird exclusion measures at the bridges."

Support Provided By
Read More
Members of Immigration With Disabilities gathered at the Los Angeles State Historic Park in late July.

No Papers, No Care: Disabled Migrants Seek Help Through Lawsuit, Activism

A class action lawsuit seeks better care for immigrants with physical disabilities or mental illness who were detained after trying to enter the country. Other disabled immigrants without legal status are also finding it difficult to get care.
African American firefighters in LA

L.A.’s Black Firefighters Battle Flames and Racism Throughout History

From Jim Crow to today, L.A.'s Black firefighters have stood against discrimination while risking their lives fighting metropolitan fires.
Photographic portrait of Mrs. Arcadia de Baker; previously Mrs. Abel Stearns, Arcadia Bandini, ca.1885. She can be seen from the waist up turned slightly to the left in an oval cutout. Her long dark hair is parted up the middle and pulled back to her neck. She is wearing a frilly shawl over a frilly dress with a low neckline.

The Powerful Mexican Woman Who Helped Shape Early Santa Monica

Arcadia Bandini Stearns de Baker was rich, beautiful and connected. This savvy businesswoman would be an important player in early California and helped shape Santa Monica and the west side of Los Angeles.