A series of power outages earlier this summer in Yellowknife are being directly linked to a single osprey nest.
In response, the NWT Power Corporation has built the birds a new home.
The nesting platforms built by the power corporation are not cheap – they can cost more than $10,000 including labour and transportation of materials to remote locations.
As a result, the corporation doesn’t build too many of them. However, in the case of this osprey nest, spokesperson Doug Prendergast said it was “not just a ‘keep the lights on’ issue but a safety issue.”
“The birds interrupted the flow of electricity,” said Prendergast. “You need proper grounding, and something of that size [the nest] is going to cause a disruption in flow of electricity along the line.”
Prendergast said the birds were not only interrupting power by tripping transformers and other equipment, but those disruptions could have caused sparks and potentially started forest fires.
Famously, in 2014, a “flaming raven” caused a power outage in Yellowknife and started a forest fire at the same time.
While there is no suggestion a flaming osprey has occurred, a photo shared by the power corporation shows an osprey nest atop a burned pole which disrupted electricity along the Bluefish line.
After seeking permission from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, power corporation line crews removed the nest in June before any serious damage was done.
However, when they went to install a new nesting platform for the birds next to the tower earlier this summer, they found the ground was still frozen. As a result, the ospreys’ new modular home is instead being delivered this week.
“It’s not just sticking a pole in ground,” explained Prendergast. “There is an art to successfully creating a nesting platform.”
The actual nest, which was placed on the ground nearby after being removed, contained no eggs or nestlings according to the power corporation. Prendergast said the two ospreys that had been using the nest did not return to it.
Ospreys are known to return to the same nest year after year. The power corporation is waiting until the spring to see if the relocation has worked.
“By and large, we’ve been quite successful, the times we’ve done this work,” said Prendergast.