As part of its ongoing efforts to protect nesting birds, Toledo Edison, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp., has teamed with Metroparks Toledo to donate and install a 55-foot wooden pole with a nesting platform at the Manhattan Marsh Preserve Metropark in North Toledo. This proactive work will provide a safe nesting location for the growing osprey population and promote osprey conservation efforts in the area.
“With the significant spike in the osprey population over recent years, we have been fortunate to experience minimal nesting activity on our utility poles and equipment in the Toledo area,” said Amy Ruszala, an environmental scientist and avian expert at FirstEnergy. “Partnering with Metroparks Toledo allows us to continue to proactively complete work to further discourage birds from nesting on or near our electrical equipment so that it doesn’t become an issue in our area.”
The 79-acre Manhattan Marsh Preserve Metropark is home to frogs, toads and turtles, but is best known for birds. Positioned within one of North America’s most significant migratory bird flyways, the marsh is an urban oasis that provides critical stopover habitat. More than 100 species of birds, including ospreys, use the marsh to nest, rest or re-fuel. Because ospreys prefer to nest near large bodies of water, the 5-square-foot wooden nesting platform was installed on top of a new wooden pole along the water. Toledo Edison donated the wooden pole and labor needed to complete the installation.
“We are proud to partner with Toledo Edison to have a nest structure in place before the ospreys return to the area in full force later this month and take up nesting this spring,” said Dave Zenk, executive director of Metroparks Toledo. “Our partnership is a win for everybody because it helps keep the nesting birds safe, benefits the electric company and allows park visitors to observe ospreys in their natural habitat.”
Birds of prey, like ospreys, often seek out tall structures including electric transmission towers and poles to build their nests, which can measure up to three feet in width. These nesting habits often place the birds near energized electrical equipment – jeopardizing their well-being and potentially causing power outages. The newly installed platform will help discourage the birds from nesting on poles with energized equipment.
The work builds upon Toledo Edison’s efforts in recent years to protect nesting birds. Last spring, the company donated a nesting platform to the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge Complex and installed it along the lakeshore to provide a safe nesting site for ospreys.
Toledo Edison has also worked closely with FirstEnergy’s environmentalists and state wildlife officials to install nesting deterrents on utility poles and electrical equipment in the region. Large, bright line markers also have been installed on power lines to provide visual warnings of energized equipment to birds and low-flying aircraft.
In addition, FirstEnergy deployed an app last spring that allows utility personnel to report avian issues in real time, streamlining the process to protect nesting birds and enhance electric service reliability. The app arms field workers with the ability to submit photos and answer key questions using a drop-down menu to report the locations of bird nests or other bird-related issues along the company’s power lines, all from their mobile devices.