National Grid Helps With Quest For A Nest
Without warning all of Barrington went black on a Saturday night this spring.
The culprit behind the sudden power outage was a stubborn osprey, on a mission to impress its mate with a new home.
The large bird was trying to build a nest on the top of a utility pole right along the water’s edge at Police Park Cove.
“They have quite a work ethic, they don’t stop,” said Jorge Claudino of the osprey’s quest for a nest. Claudino is a senior electric line supervisor with National Grid.
“We cleared sticks out of the pole, the nest wasn’t established,” Claudino said of the ramshackle structure. “There were just branches up there and a few days later we had to clear it out again.”
Utility poles are a popular pick for ospreys according to Bill Howard, an environmental scientist with National Grid. “The make of our utility poles are similar to dead trees that ospreys would nest in,” Howard said. “They also choose locations that are the tallest tree in the general area, because other raptors seek to prey on newborn ospreys, so they seek the highest location for their nest.”
The other draw for the birds to flock to that area in Barrington is the proximity to water. Ospreys diet consists primarily of fish, so they like to locate their nests in trees near bodies of water, Howard said.
Claudino was concerned that more power outages would occur if the osprey continued to build its nest on top of the utility pole.
Plans were quickly made to create a new home for the pair of ospreys. A permit from Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council was needed because the pole is near the water. Approval was also needed from the Town of Barrington to place the pole. Jacques Afonso, National Grid’s Community and Customer Manager for Barrington, contacted the town and facilitated the proper permitting.
When National Grid received the go-ahead, the new home for the ospreys was put up in just a few hours. The installation of a brand-new 55-foot pole with a built-in nesting platform, is just a short flight away from the old structure. The crew took the sticks from the previous home and placed them on top of the towering new nest.
Constructing the new nesting platform consisted of digging a hole eight feet deep and filling it with stones. After the old nest was dismantled, a worker put up an animal deterrent on the utility pole.
However, even with the animal deterrent, the osprey was seen circling its old home, clutching one of the sticks in its claws, unable to land. According to Howard, each year more juvenile adult ospreys return from the wintering grounds in South America and the Caribbean, searching for a nest site. They must either find a new nest site or take over a site from pairs that didn’t return from years past. “Environmental and operations work together to create safe nesting sites,” Howard said.
National Grid will go to great lengths to create a new habitat for animals. Sometimes the crews will place a nest platform near the pole, they can also place the platform on top of the pole if there is not a suitable location for a pole, like on a busy road.
“We were able to protect the area from outages from the osprey and created a safe nesting spot for a new pair of mating Osprey,” Howard said.