Carthage, TN. The Ospreys are back in the Upper Cumberland and while these protected raptors are a majestic and pleasing sight for birdwatchers, their dried-wood nests can mean chaos for UCEMC power line maintenance crews in the area.
Ospreys, also known as fish hawks or river hawks, prefer to build their nests high above their ideal fishing spot – primarily on power poles near the water – on Cordell Hull Lake, the Caney Fork and Cumberland Rivers. The Osprey is one of the largest birds of prey in North America with a wingspan of more than five feet.
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“These huge nests are not made out of little twigs, but of hefty sticks and tree limbs that could start a fire, knock out power to thousands of customers, or when damp and in contact with the line, possibly electrocute the Osprey,” explains Chris Saling, UCEMC’s District Manager in Gainesboro.
In the spring, Saling and his crew walk a fine line to co-exist with the Osprey while preventing the power outages caused by the massive nests. “Just in the last couple of weeks, nests have caused two outages; one near Granville and another near the Zinc mine. We have twelve active nests on our poles already with more expected each week.”
Adult Ospreys mate for life and return to the familiar area where they were hatched to raise their young.
In an effort to outwit the Osprey – and protect it from electrocution – UCEMC crews are installing anti-perching devices on poles where nests are underway. The plastic sleeves bounce when the bird lands on the device, causing an unsteady surface on the power lines.
Empty, old, or partially built nests can be safely relocated nearby. A nest containing the eggs of this protected bird cannot be moved by orders of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
“The key to this battle every year is to find the nest when the first stick is dropped and before the eggs are laid,” Saling adds. “We work with the TWRA and keep out a watchful eye to stay ahead of the game. A male and female Osprey can complete their construction and be sitting on eggs in three days.” On Friday, April 5th, the Osprey featured in the DTC live Osprey camera, proudly showed-off her first egg to viewers.