Thursday, May 26, 2016

Eagle banding was a brand new experience

Crews from our Weyauwega service center assisted in the wildlife banding of two eagle chicks in Shiocton last week.

Several employees were on hand to assist in gathering the eagles from their nest atop a white pine tree. Andy Gross, line mechanic, rose to the occasion in a 65-foot bucket truck to bring the young birds to the ground for their wildlife bands.

“That nest is huge up there. It’s got to be six to eight feet across,” said Gross.

The chicks were about 5 weeks old and weighed in at 9.5 and 6.75 pounds. The Feather Wildlife Rehab/Education Center, based out of New London, banded the birds.

Bald eagles are listed as a species of special concern in Wisconsin and are federally protected. The birds prefer to nest in large trees near water.

Eagles and ospreys sometimes build their nests on high structures such as tall trees near water, but a decline of such trees is making another location attractive for the birds – power poles. The problem is that sticks can fall from the large nests, causing service interruptions, and the birds could be electrocuted.

Over the years, we have been constructing nest structures near our poles and transferring nests to much higher and safer structures. In Wisconsin, more than 80 percent of the osprey population nests are on artificial structures and platforms, most of which are built by energy companies.

Line crew leader Mike Haak has assisted in a handful of osprey bandings in the past, but an eagle banding was a brand new experience for him.

“I’m just so grateful to our management for continuing to allow the resources for us to participate in this effort,” said Haak.

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