Toledo Edison, Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge team up to protect birds of prey

55-foot-tall post/platform erected for nesting ospreys
Published: Apr. 15, 2021 at 6:51 PM EDT
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JERUSALEM TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WTVG) - The Lake Erie shoreline provides a natural safe haven for thousands of birds, but sometimes they need a little manmade help. A wooden pole some 55 feet tall may seem out of place for Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, but it’s irresistible to some of its residents.

Toledo Edison partnered up with the refuge to install the custom-made pole recently at Cedar Point NWR (managed by Ottawa NWR), complete with a nesting platform. The idea is to prevent birds of prey from nesting atop actual power poles -- local osprey, in particular, whose nests can last for up to 70 years if left untouched.

“Birds of prey like osprey often seek out tall structures like our utility poles to nest, and these nests can often measure up to 3 feet in width,” explains Toledo Edison spokeswoman Lauren Siburkis. “With a significant spike in the osprey population over recent years, we’ve been very fortunate to experience minimal nesting activity on our utility poles and equipment in the Toledo Edison area.”

The company’s preventative measures may be to credit for that -- not only on the poles, but the power lines themselves. “We’ve also installed a lot of those large, bright line markers you see on our power lines,” Siburkis says, “to really provide a visual warning to birds and low-flying aircraft.”

The reasoning is simple enough: stop the birds from nesting, and you’ll save them plus time and money down the line. “These nesting habits often put the birds near energized equipment,” Siburkis explains, “which not only jeopardizes the birds and their eggs, but also can cause power outages for our customers.”

Toledo Edison’s counterpart in western Pennsylvania found that measures like these are much easier than removing or relocating the nests. Penn Power built this platform just as they had several times already: “Over the past three years, Toledo Edison’s sister utility has installed more than a dozen of these nesting platforms, and every single one is occupied by the birds this year.”

It’s not the first such local partnership, nor do they plan on it being the last. “First Energy is always working with state wildlife and local agencies to install any type of equipment that would help protect our wildlife,” says Siburkis. “Getting this project done was really a team effort here.”

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