American Transmission Co.

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Crews save family of kestrels by relocating nest to new electric transmission pole

Crews attached the section of the old pole containing the nest to the new pole.

A family of American kestrels is safely nesting in an American Transmission Co. pole thanks to the keen eye and ingenuity of a construction crew. The birds had settled into a pole partially hollowed out by a woodpecker in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. When it came time to replace the pole, the crew ensured that the kestrels’ home didn’t disappear.

ATC partnered with M.J. Electric to replace the wood structures supporting a 138,000-volt line in Richmond Township, Mich., in June. As the crew worked, they checked poles for wildlife. They initially did not notice baby birds nesting in a woodpecker cavity in one of the poles due to the depth of the hole. After the pole was removed, they noticed the birds and knew they needed to call in an expert. The crew consulted with ATC’s avian specialist, Michael Warwick, and came up with a plan. They carefully removed and saved the portion of the pole containing the woodpecker cavity, and they used a bucket truck and cables to attach the saved portion of the old pole to the new pole at roughly the same height.

Shortly after the cavity containing the baby birds was attached to the new pole, the crew noticed one of the adult kestrels entering the nest.

While it is rare for crews to find birds nesting in electric transmission poles, it does happen occasionally. Woodpeckers frequently bore into wood transmission poles to look for insects or make nests, and sometime kestrels or owls make nests in those cavities. Crews are trained to look for wildlife before beginning construction.

Since woodpecker holes can compromise the structural integrity of the poles, ATC recently developed a more efficient and economical way to analyze woodpecker damage and provide recommendations for handling damaged poles. Click here to learn more about that process.

ATC is committed to environmental leadership in all aspects of our business, and we commend our partner, M.J. Electric, for joining us in that commitment.