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Drones help protected birds nests relocate from power lines before they catch fire

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A powerlines company operating out of the US Northeast is using drones to scout the locations of birds nests on top of powerlines before safely removing them.

FirstEnergy has thousands of power lines throughout Pennsylvania. Ospreys, a fish-loving hawk (sometimes referred to as seahawks), love to build their nests on top of power lines. This poses a risk to the birds, their eggs and the public power supply.

There are about 460,000 ospreys worldwide and they protected in North America. Ospreys build their nests from branches and twigs and they are generally finished in fewer than 48 hours. Problem is – a big pile of sticks piled directly on top of power lines can easily cause fires. This is a particularly big problem during the rainy season when the wet branches from the osprey nests conduct electricity more than they normally would and are an especially big fire risk.

How drones are helping

In the first instances, some power companies have taken to building special platforms on top of the power lines so the birds have a safe spot to nest. Some birds take up the offer but others ignore the offer and still build their nests right next to the lines.

With it being impractical and expensive to build a platform atop every power pilon, FirstEnergy have taken to sending their drones to fly patrols over the many powerlines around the state.  From hundreds of feet in the air, the drone pilots can determine whether or not a nest is being used by an osprey. The operators keep the drones far from the nests to avoid disturbing the birds and potentially leading to a parent abandoning their nest.

In the instances where the nest does pose a risk to the public, the company cooperates with conservationists to remove the nest, incubate the eggs and relocate them to a safe location. According to Cleveland 19 News, the company has already saved 40 nests. Great stuff!

An aerial shot was taken from a FirstEnergy drone, leading to the nest’s eventual relocation.

To see other drones for good stories, check out:

How drones are helping to identify plastic on beaches 

How drones ‘sniff’ toxic gasses in disaster zones 

Drones can help locate missing people faster than human search teams

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