RICHMOND, Va. – An osprey couple living blissfully on a nesting platform installed by Dominion Energy may not realize it, but they are part of an experiment to help keep them safe and keep the lights on for customers.
Once near extinction, osprey have rebounded to the point where they are so numerous they can cause safety issues and power outages when their nests are located on electric transmission towers.
And the large “fish hawks” do have a propensity for building their “pick-up-stick” nests on transmission towers. That can lead to the birds getting electrocuted or outages caused by large limbs from the nests falling on the power lines.
In late February, before the osprey pair returned for the mating season, Dominion Energy’s Transmission group had to move a nest located on a tower bordering Buggs Island Lake. “While we loved to see the birds thrive and return each year, their nest caused numerous outages,” said Carter Clevinger, Electric Transmission & Distribution-project manager.
Ensuring all applicable regulations were followed, Dominion Energy’s environmental biologists supported the safe removal of the nest from the transmission tower. At the same time, the Transmission team placed a new experimental aluminum nesting platform on a nearby wooden pole used as a support for the tower. For the first time, the platform is made of aluminum so it will last longer and be sturdier than wooden models used in the past.
As a final touch, they added a few sticks from the old nest to entice the birds to take up residence.
“We were not certain the birds would make the move,” Clevinger said.
To keep an eye on the platform, Clevinger’s team installed a time-lapse camera that takes a picture every 10 minutes. They used the camera to keep an eye out for possible nesting activity.
For several weeks the birds stayed away. “Then, they made the jump. It went from nothing to a condo,” Clevinger said.
Today, the osprey have one young chick that should be ready to leave the nest in late June.
The experiment seems to be a success. The osprey have a safer nest and there has not been a single outage.
About Dominion Energy
Dominion Energy (NYSE:D) is one of the nation's largest producers and transporters of energy, with a portfolio of approximately 26,200 megawatts of generation, 15,000 miles of natural gas transmission, gathering and storage pipeline, and 6,600 miles of electric transmission lines. Dominion Energy operates one of the nation's largest natural gas storage systems with 1 trillion cubic feet of storage capacity and serves more than 6 million utility and retail energy customers. For more information about Dominion Energy, visit the company's website at www.DominionEnergy.com.