They’re a bit like the guests who overstay their welcome in your home, leaving their sheets rumpled in the bed, eating your food, and inviting more family members to join them.
Something like this has been happening to National Grid on one of their power poles across Route 28 from the Chain Lakes Road in the hamlet of Indian Lake. Osprey built a nest a year and a half ago in this desirable location near Lake Abanakee. Osprey like to build their “stick nests” on channel markers, dead trees, and poles like the ones National Grid uses for their power lines across New York State.
So last fall National Grid, working with the Department of Environmental Conservation, removed the Lake Abanakee nest. And this spring, the birds returned to the pole and rebuilt.
Turns out, this is nothing new for National Grid. The company has been removing nests and, depending on the circumstances, building wooden platforms or even, in cases where they have property rights, erecting new poles for birds that return season after season. The company even has a newly developed fiber nesting platform that is easier to install because of its light weight.
As the osprey population has returned (after the pesticide DDT was banned), the company has been busy.
“Within the last five years, we’ve noticed a significant population increase,” said Tracy Miller, a scientist for National Grid.
And with that, more nests have popped up on National Grid property.
“In the North Country, we see it quite often,” Miller said, with the heaviest populations in the Ticonderoga and Lake George areas. “We’ve installed quite a few platforms and poles.”
National Grid can remove nests only from September 1 to March 31, Miller said, because it is assumed nests are unoccupied during that period. The timeframe can differ regionally. The company notifies and works closely with DEC for each case.
In the North Country, National Grid is not allowed to remove a nest between April 1 and August 31 unless it is an emergency or the nest has caused an outage. In this case, the company talks with DEC, takes aerial photos of the nest to see if it contains eggs, and occasionally transfers the nest to a different pole.
The purpose, of course, is to protect both the species and the National Grid property, said Stephen Haller, another National Grid scientist for the central New York region. Pieces of the nest can fall and affect power conductors, which can cause outages. Likewise, birds can be killed if they touch the conductor with their wings.
As for the Indian Lake nest, Miller said they will evaluate whether a platform or pole is warranted.
Photo: Indian Lake osprey by Tracy Ormsbee.