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AltaLink helps some local feathered friends with a safe place to nest 

March 3, 2022

AltaLink employees had a busy week last week protecting our feathered friends in southern Alberta with not one, but two nest installations.

On Tuesday, AltaLink and the Alberta Conservation Association (ACA) were in the Granum area to install a new 15-foot artificial nesting platform for a pair of ferruginous hawks.

A ferruginous hawk nest near a local landowner’s house had blown down and resulted in the loss of eggs that were already in the nest. Fledglings had also been hit by vehicles in previous years. Concerned, the landowner reached out to the ACA to see if there was anything that could be done.

AltaLink is a proud supporter of the ACA and was brought in to see if there was a solution. Once the ACA and AltaLink found a location that would work for the birds, it was a race against time to get the work done before the hawks return in March.

"AltaLink is a leader in bird protection, and it is always a great feeling when you can help protect Alberta’s ferruginous hawks by providing them with a safe place to nest," said Aaron Anderson, environmental advisor, AltaLink. "This work is part of our commitment to the environment, wildlife and the communities we serve, and we are proud to be able to donate this particular artificial nesting platform."

The hope is the new nesting platform and starter nest will persuade the hawks to nest at the new site when they return home.

"This new nest will be a more secure nesting site as it is away from the road and in a much better location to raise their young," said Brad Downey, Alberta Conservation Association. "The ferruginous hawk is listed as Endangered, so the work that AltaLink is doing will help provide a secure nesting site for this pair and will help with the recovery of the species."

Ongoing training leads to nest discovery

The next day, the AltaLink crew was off to one of their substations, located north of Lethbridge, to relocate a ferruginous hawk nest to a safer location.

This particular ferruginous hawk nest was identified during a routine sweep of the substation. Thanks to AltaLink’s Avian Protection Plan, employees and contractors know what to do if and when they see birds and a nest at an AltaLink facility.

AltaLink was the first Canadian utility to develop such a plan that is designed to reduce the impact that transmission facilities can have on birds. The plan includes set standards and processes that allow its environment and field teams to work quickly and mitigate bird nest concerns on or near its transmission lines or sites.

"We want to reduce the impact that our facilities can have on birds", said Anderson. "By relocating the nest, we provide the ferruginous hawks a safer place to nest, and AltaLink can continue to provide Albertans with reliable electricity."

Once the environment team determined a safe space to relocate the nest, AltaLink got to work on cleaning up the nest and moving it to the new location.

The new nest is now ready to welcome the hawks when they return in the spring.

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