October 29, 2018

Avian Relocation Specialist Team Swoops into Action

Home is where you make it, but sometimes you need help with location. That’s the lesson some osprey learned when they returned to their nest near an American Electric Power substation in Michawaka, IN this past spring. AEP crews moved the nest to a safer location in a recent project.

The nest, located on a lattice transmission tower, was unoccupied for the winter, but swift action was required before the birds’ returned. Anticipated summer construction at the Twin Branch substation could have disturbed the osprey and discouraged them from reproducing.

Osprey are migratory birds of prey found on the Indiana endangered species list and must be protected. Regulations prohibit construction within 660 feet of an active nest. The nest, which was located 450 feet from the substation, would require additional permits, agency coordination and possibly delay construction if occupied by the birds. Simply dismantling the existing nest would be a temporary solution, as the osprey would likely rebuild in the same location.

An Avian Relocation Specialist Team (ARST) was quickly formed to build an osprey nest-safe platform and transfer the nest from the lattice tower. The concept developed by ARST attached a two-by-four-foot platform on top of a 70-foot steel pole. Then, the existing nest was carefully moved to the new platform for the ospreys’ return. To prevent the raptors from rebuilding on the lattice tower again, a protective round cap was placed on top of the structure. The ospreys’ new home is visible from the original nesting location, but meets the required distance from the substation per state of Indiana regulations.

“The ARST team demonstrated the key AEP values of integrity and stewardship. Developed in a short period of time, the knowledge, assistance and enthusiasm the team displayed was remarkable,” Rod Ginter, an AEP environmental specialist, said. “The ospreys will have a safer spot to nest that is closer to their summer feeding grounds along the river. The location is free from any climbing nest predators such as raccoons and we can now proceed with our substation upgrades without fear of disrupting their nesting or their nestlings. This project is a true win-win for our substation project and the ospreys – a valuable learning experience for our AEP team.”

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