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Birds Cost BART Millions; Photos of the Culprits

| December 7, 2012
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Nesting birds are adding nearly $5 million to the price of building the BART extension south of Fremont. BART’s board approved paying the extra cost on Thursday.

It’s illegal to damage the nests of migratory birds, and the Bay Area is a stop on the bird superhighway known as the Pacific Flyway. BART knew to budget some money for planning around birds, but BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said the agency underestimated.

“It proved to be much more expensive than we thought it would,” Trost said. “And proved to be a lot more birds than we thought it would be.”

Workers did everything they could to scare the birds off.

“Sprinklers, reflective streamers, air dancers — they’re at car stations, it’s those big billowy type dancing creatures,” Trost said.

When that didn’t work, they had to wait for the eggs to hatch and the birds to leave their nests, which they had built right in the construction site.

BART initially budgeted $90,000 to try to keep nesting birds at bay. Deterrence efforts and the extra work that went into continuing construction without disturbing the nests drove the cost up to just under $5 million.

But Trost says if construction had been delayed, the costs would have been much higher.

“The best news is that, obviously, we protected the eggs. But the project is still on time, and it’s on budget.”

BART had the extra money in its contingency fund.

Below are photos of the birds-versus-BART saga, courtesy BART, not the birds.

 Mourning dove and brood nesting in subway segment 91.

Eggs in strut.

Killdeer on nest inside buffer.

American avocet nest with egg.

Environmental monitor dismantling nest.

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Category: Animals and Wildlife, Transportation

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About the Author ()

Molly Samuel joined KQED as an intern in 2007, and since then has worked here as a reporter, producer, director and blogger. Before becoming KQED Science’s Multimedia Producer, she was a producer for Climate Watch. Molly has also reported for NPR, KALW and High Country News, and has produced audio stories for The Encyclopedia of Life and the Oakland Museum of California. She was a fellow with the Middlebury Fellowships in Environmental Journalism and a journalist-in-residence at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center. Molly has a degree in Ancient Greek from Oberlin College and is a co-founder of the record label True Panther Sounds. Reach Molly Samuel at msamuel@kqed.org.

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