February 26, 2006

The Mysterious Radio Tracking Trucks of Omaha / Pesky Starlings

Filed under: Words — Scott Redd @ 9:05 pm

Beginning in the fall of 2005 I began to notice two strange trucks driving around slowly in downtown Omaha (please see pictures below). These trucks have giant dual yagi antennae mounted on a pole running through the cab of the truck. The driver of the each truck would drive around the downtown area rotating the antenna back and forth by manipulating the shaft that ran through the cab of the truck.

Then one day I noticed a man wearing large headphones and walking around the fire station waving a hanldheld dual yagi antenna as if searching for a signal or listening for something.

So, of course, I begin thinking thoughts like:

  • spies
  • mind control operatives
  • terrorists
  • people trying an alternative to Omaha’s sometimes poor radio scene

Then, as coincidence would have it, within a couple of days I came across a news article about a plan by the USDA to control bird population and another truck with radio antennae on the top with a giant wood and wire bird cage on the back.

It wasn’t hard to then put it all together. I presume that these trucks with their antennae arrays and the operators of the trucks are listening for specially tagged starlings bearing radio transmitters. The truck with the giant cage on the back must have been one where they would transport trapped starlings for later release.

I’m doubtful that the systems of detering starlings from the downtown Omaha area will work in the long run. Birds are just like people. Adaptable, resourceful, and persistent.

The systems used so far, along are:

The best course of action is to design structures that deny access to birds. Compare the First National Bank building with the Union Pacific Center. Both are new buildings built at approximately the same time. However, birds simply avoid the Union Pacific Center because there are no roosting or perching spots.

The focus of this blog is to capture and share sounds. Perhaps someday I’ll take my microphone downtown and capture the sounds of the flares and foghorns.

Below are the pictures of the radio tracking trucks:

Radio Truck 1

Radio Truck 2

Radio Truck 3

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