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PLTs’ compassion and creativity help save young hawk

Sep 8, 2016, 11:07 AM

Earlier this summer, two of our Power Line Technicians, Jon and Zach, were responding to a power outage in Taber when they discovered the cause: Ferruginous hawks had built a nest within a transformer bank and must have contacted energized components.

Upon arriving at the structure, the linemen were unsure of the extent of the damage, including the impact on the nest’s occupants.

“Mama hawk was flying around and we weren’t too fond of getting dive bombed while climbing the pole, so we came up with a safer alternative to see what had happened up in the nest,” says Zach.

He and Jon used some inventiveness to rig up a device to safely check out the nest: they taped a cell phone to a telepole, set the phone to video and started recording. They were able to extend the camera all the way to the nest and record a bird’s eye view of the activity. Playing the video back, they discovered that one of the adult hawks had sadly been electrocuted, leaving behind a seemingly healthy chick and an unhatched egg.

To ensure the safety of the chick, the service was not immediately reenergized and Alberta Fish and Wildlife was contacted. With their approval, FortisAlberta later removed the chick from the nest and transported it safely to the Alberta Birds of Prey Centre. This was done to increase the chances of survival for the young hawk and decrease the risk of electrocuting the remaining adult hawk.

“The hawk, a ferruginous, did survive and is recuperating,” says Colin Weir, Director, Alberta Birds of Prey Centre, “We hope it can be released later this fall or next summer.”

“We try to do everything possible to avoid bird contacts with our power system, especially the birds of prey,” adds Zach. “In this case, we were a little creative and took the time to make sure we were safe and didn’t have any further bird fatalities.”

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