“Freedom” means different things to different members of society. For some, it means the opportunity to enjoy basic aspects of life – like a home, constructive ways to use your energy and the ability to raise children in a safe environment – without fear.
But when bald eagles, those magnificent symbols of America, build nests on Tampa Electric’s poles, they risk losing their lives and temporarily depriving portions of the community of electrical power.
We’re afraid we simply can’t let that happen.
This July 4th, as we think about our national holiday and what it means, it might be worthwhile to think about how we protect our national symbol as well as other large birds that call this part of Florida home.
“Eagles and birds of that size love our power poles because they want a high perch for their nest,” said Jerry Adams, environmental coordinator with Tampa Electric. “They think they’re safe and like having a good view of prey below. What they don’t realize is how nests and power poles are an unworkable combination.”
Moving an eagle’s nest is a delicate – and involved – process. When we learn about a nest on a pole (usually from TECO team members as they conduct routine inspections for reliability), we initiate an extensive permitting process with local, state and federal entities. Once we have approval to move the nest, TECO builds a nearby pole with a platform atop it and no connection to electrical power. Then we carefully, painstakingly move the nest, which can weigh more than 400 pounds, to the new platform.
But the story’s not over at that point.
“For six months after the nest is relocated, our people go out to document, for an hour at a time, activity in the nest,” Adams said. “It’s our duty to see things through and to make sure that the birds are nesting safely.”
One such bald eagle nest relocation effort near Lakeland is currently in the permitting stage. Throughout our service area, you’re likely to see tall posts with nest platforms on top near our power lines. If you see what appears to be a nest on our electrical infrastructure, let us know (and remember that you should never get close to our electrical equipment). Often, the birds we relocate are ospreys, because you shouldn’t have to be America’s symbol to earn the respect we give to everyone in the community – feathered or otherwise. Here, you can sometimes see an osprey in a nest we relocated not long ago.
In the end, it comes down to a commitment to environmental stewardship – and to simply doing what’s right. And for all the power and majesty you’ll find in images of the eagle soaring in flight, the quiet moments in the nest matter just as much…those moments where the future first peeks out and takes its first look around at the community we’re proud to share with you.
From everyone at TECO, have a happy and safe Fourth of July.