Before they catch fire, FirstEnergy using drones to remove protected birds from power poles

FirstEnergy is first utility in the country to use the technology to scout and save nests

Before they catch fire, FirstEnergy using drones to remove protected birds from power poles
Osprey like to build nests on power polls which are a danger to themselves and your power.

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - FirstEnergy has thousands of power poles and distribution towers all over Ohio. Pennsylvania and the Northeast and the osprey loves to build its nest on top of them.

Before they catch fire, FirstEnergy using drones to remove protected birds from power poles

An osprey can build a full-blown nest of branches, leaves and dried grass in 2 days and start laying eggs according to FirstEnergy Environmental Scientist Amy Ruszala.

That nest creates a danger for the birds, their eggs and your power.

This osprey built a nest on a FirstEnergy power poll that put its eggs in danger of catching fire.
This osprey built a nest on a FirstEnergy power poll that put its eggs in danger of catching fire. (Source: FirstEnergy)

“When spring storms come in they will actually get wet and that wet wood will conduct electricity and that will catch the pole on fire," Ruszala said.

That fire can consume the nest, eggs or young osprey that can’t fly, and knock out power to the area.

The challenge when inspecting towers and poles, that can be as high as 120 feet, is determining if a nest is active or abandoned.

Licensed drone operators, along with Ruszala, can now take a peek from a distance.

FirstEnergy licensed drone users check an osprey nest to see if there are eggs that need to be relocated.
FirstEnergy licensed drone users check an osprey nest to see if there are eggs that need to be relocated. (Source: FirstEnergy)

“So the drone can stay 330 feet away, and the camera can still zoom in enough that I can tell details of how many eggs are in that nest,” Ruszala said from FirstEnergy headquarters in Akron. “Where as previously we were using bucket trucks and it would scare the birds off. It was just more disturbance.”

From the air a drone found this osprey nest was active.
From the air a drone found this osprey nest was active. (Source: FirstEnergy)
The FirstEnergy drone was able to spot three eggs from this osprey nest that needed to be moved.
The FirstEnergy drone was able to spot three eggs from this osprey nest that needed to be moved.

If a nest needs to be relocated FirstEnergy works with conservationists to use an incubator to house the eggs, build a new nest box near-by, and replace the eggs.

Ruszala estimates throughout the energy company’s lines they have had to protect an estimated 40 osprey nests.

For all the nature lovers out there, this is a pretty cool program from FirstEnergy. Those nests can catch fire, and that's not good for the eggs or babies.

Posted by Dan DeRoos Cleveland 19 on Wednesday, November 14, 2018

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