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Operation Birds of Prey: I&M Line Mechanics Save Osprey Nest

May 24, 2021

“See Something, Say Something, Do Something.”

That's one of Indiana Michigan Power's (I&M) safety motto and it was at the forefront of line mechanics, based in Three Rivers, minds recently as they saved an Osprey nest. Line mechanics discovered a pair of Osprey, often referred to as fish or river hawks, building a nest atop a set of double cross arms. 

Line mechanics working to relocate Osprey nest on power pole in Three Rivers, Michigan.

“The nest was actually above a 600 amp switch, which separates two vital circuits serving customers in the Three Rivers area and along the highly traveled U.S. Route 131” said Steve Groendyk, Distribution System Supervisor. “We felt we should do something for the safety of our crews, our customers and for the ospreys.”

Groendyk reached out to Megan Innis, Regional Environmental Coordinator Senior, for guidance. She explained there were a few options laid out in the Avian Protection Plan. The plan manages avian interactions with utility structures, equipment, and wires.  Basically, if the nest is active, with eggs or young, most of the time I&M is not permitted to relocate it.  I&M is permitted to relocate nests if they are still under construction or inactive.

The group of line mechanics didn’t like the idea of destroying the large nest. After confirming, there were no eggs or chicks, they decided the birds needed a new place to call home.

“Since the line mechanics identified the nest while it was still under construction, our crews were given the green light to relocate the nest away from the high voltage lines,” said Innis. “This is the perfect example of AEP employees using their training to adhere to the Avian Protection Plan. By doing this, we were able to protect the birds, their future young, our customers and our commitment to avian protection.”

The best solution for the raptors was to create a platform and relocate the nest. The Three Rivers crew recently conducted the operation to save these birds of prey and safely moved the nest about four feet above its original location, away from the electrical equipment.

“I’m proud of the work, dedication and care the line mechanics took, not only for our customers, but for the livelihoods of the osprey as well,” said Wesley Lee, Manager of Distribution Services for the Michigan district. “They didn’t hesitate to say something when they saw a potential hazard. They also used the power of the team to create a positive solution.”

About 30 minutes after relocating the nest, the line mechanics observed the osprey couple near their new home. The line is set to be rebuilt in the future, but for now, the birds can safely raise their family.

“Judging from the size of the nest, it wouldn’t have lasted long if we left it alone. It could have caught fire or burned the electrical line,” said Groendyk. “This was truly the best solution so we can serve our customers with reliable and safe service while preserving wildlife at the same time. We essentially upgraded the nest from a townhouse to a penthouse.”

Information about Ospreys:

According to the National Wildlife Federation, ospreys are smaller than the bald eagle and have an average wingspan of five feet. They are known as fish or river hawks. Ospreys are raptors well adapted for fishing. They are also known to make nests in the top of trees or on power poles, near a body of water.

 

 

 

 

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