It was around 5:30 p.m. when we were driving through Garden City headed eastbound on Chinden. We were coming up on Powderhuas Brewing. Apart from wishing we had time for a beer, everything was as it should have been. That's when we saw a large bird of prey swoop down and land on top of a power pole. Electrocuted on the spot, the beautiful raptor died and fell to the ground. It was terribly sad!
As traffic stood still, we couldn't help but notice what looked like two Ospreys perched on another power pole, only there was a platform atop this one. Given what we had witnessed minutes before, we wondered: were these feathery friends moments away from suffering the same fate as the raptor? If not, how?
Idaho Power's Aviation Protection Program
Chicken is delicious, but no one's ordering rotisserie a la Osprey tonight. To safeguard the Gem State's native birds of prey, Idaho Power developed the Aviation Protect Program. After reading up on it, now we know that protecting raptors from electrocution is no small feat!
When large birds land and take off from power poles, or use them for nesting and perching, their outspread wings may connect high-voltage components, creating a pathway for electricity to flow through the bird, which can lead to electrocution of the bird and power outages that impact our customers.
Ospreys are among the most frequently seen birds of prey in Idaho Power’s service area. We work continually to protect them, and to provide power to our customers safely and reliably. -Idaho Power
Conservation requires the conglomerate to remain proactive and think outside the box. The robust initiative to eliminate and reduce electrocutions spans hundreds of thousands of power poles. Because of the time and the resources involved, Idaho Power zeroes in on regions where birds of prey will benefit most. Ongoing measures include:
- raptor-safe designs for all new & rebuilt poles;
- implementing adaptations to widen the distance between electrical conductors;
- covering conductors, jumper wires, & other hazards to create perch-friendly sites.
- & building perch platforms to help birds land more safely on electric poles.
Addressing Overhead Issues
Birds that collide with power lines are in just as much danger as those that land on power poles. Collision factors include: poor vision, birds’ height of flight, night flights, inclement weather, etc. Installing marking devices at problematic sites and high-frequency areas makes them more visible and reduces collisions. Once again, that's no small feat! Hats off to Idaho Power for going to such great lengths to protect the Gem State's birds of prey.
If you have photos of raptors or nests in your neighborhood (or anywhere in the Gem State), we'd love to share them with the Treasure Valley!
Email your photos to firstname.lastname@example.org along with the name of the town/city you spotted the nest/bird.