BC Hydro: Fix your “killing poles”

26 July 2022

It is midnight on the Canadian Prairies, 25 July. There is thunder and lighting and the rain is coming down like the 1600 monsoon in Chennai in July — or like Karachi yesterday when that city got a year’s worth of rain in one day. Each of us wants to have a purpose in life, to make a difference. You can join with others today to do just that.

Margaret Mead said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Malala and Junior

That quote is worth remembering every time we want to accomplish something bigger than ourselves. Today, of course, I am talking about getting BC Hydro to ‘do the right thing’ and honour Junior’s death with positive action. BC Hydro needs to demonstrate that they are up to the challenge of making every hydro pole in the lower mainland of British Columbia safe for our feathered friends! Nothing short of a commitment to that goal is acceptable.

The story of Junior and Malala spread around the world in the same way that the story of Stepan Vokic’s rescue and care of Malena in 1993 did — and, of course, the love that Vokic had in caring for both Malena and her scrawny mate, Klepetan, and their 66 children. We cried and laughed and hoped as the little hawklet that came to the nest as prey became a loving part of the eagle family. Their story took us away from a world that is too full of despair to a place where we saw ‘hope’. Hope for each of us as well as that little hawklet.

The international community is stepping up and helping GROWLS with examples of other hydro companies who do not hesitate but, who rush to action when they hear of a bird in desperate need. The latest rescue of a juvenile Osprey caught on a hydro pole in Connecticut from one of my favourite wildlife rehab clinics in the US, A Place Called Hope (APCH) took place Sunday evening. Have a read! It is inspiring.

There is the young Osprey being rescued!

Those who had the ability to step into action and help this young Osprey did not hesitate. They did not stop taking phone calls after hours – they answered the phone and got the proper staff out immediately. This is what we expect from BC Hydro. No more excuses. No more relying on antiquated sections of their founding documents to hedge their responsibilities. No more closing their eyes to the situation. BC Hydro is more than aware of the eagles that are killed on its power poles. We want action.

https://bc.ctvnews.ca/quite-disturbing-5-bald-eagles-electrocuted-on-hydro-poles-1.3234031?fbclid=IwAR2Yq1nVVikg_aD0TNhSa6cmjXxgMxNM9ekx3e0EQTGXkDI22SUqz1yKsXw

BC Hydro does fund OWLS with an annual donation. They have even worked on some projects with OWLS. For those who do not know, OWLS is the only raptor rehab in the lower mainland of British Columbia. Of course, OWLS relies on this generous donation but, it also compromises them so that they cannot speak out. That is where we come in. We do not have any conflicts of interest. We are a growing number of international bird lovers who believe that all life on this planet is to be valued and respected. We treasure our relationship with the natural world and so many of us know precisely what our feathered friends meant to us during the darkest days of the pandemic. We have learned so much about these raptor families. We have watched them care for their chicks, we have wished for food, we have stayed up at night if there were storms brewing that might harm them and their nests. We have also learned that many of their challenges are due to humans. In this case, our need for electrical power – no matter where we live – puts their lives in danger. The Ospreys were on this planet 60 million years ago. Fossil records indicate that Bald Eagles were here about 1 million years ago. Of course, as more evidence is found these numbers could change with both being here even longer.

Three months ago few of you knew about Gabriola Island and the Bald Eagle family and its streaming cam. Today, GROWLS has 4.1 Facebook Friends that want to make a difference. If you have not stepped up to send an e-mail to BC Hydro, then I invite you to do so today. It takes only minutes to send an e-mail but the impact of these e-mails can bring dramatic change. BC Hydro knows that their power poles are killing ever large number of Bald Eagles each year….this has to stop. It is wonton disregard. If BC Hydro wants to really be a supporter of wildlife then it is time to prove it – not just by a generous donation – but by also undertaking to stop placing killing poles throughout the province of British Columbia.

In 2018, Christian Sasse did an on line Q & A about electrocution and the power poles. He is planning on another (I do not have the time). Here is that earlier broadcast:

The American Eagle Foundation wrote an article about protecting birds from power poles. This along with Christian Sasse’s video gives us some of the knowledge to understand that BC Hydro can and must amend the size of their power poles but, also, undertake measures to make already erected power poles safe. Arm yourself with knowledge and the facts — it will certainly help when you write your letters!

https://www.eagles.org/take-action/avian-friendly-power-lines/?fbclid=IwAR2Yq1nVVikg_aD0TNhSa6cmjXxgMxNM9ekx3e0EQTGXkDI22SUqz1yKsXw

Here is an article on how the power poles that are already in place can be retrofitted to be safe for our feathered friends.

PG&E Installs Protective Devices on Power Poles in South Bay Where Bald Eagles Rest and Dine

I copied the following contact information from GROWLS. Send an e-mail, do a follow up to see if BC Hydro is doing anything in response to Junior’s electrocution, and then take the time to go to Twitter and make a comment! We cannot let up. GROWLS is working tirelessly. They need our help and they need us to have good examples of power companies coming to the rescue like the one from A Place Called Hope. — At the end of the day, BC Hydro wants to be the ‘good company on the block’ not one standing there with egg on their face.

 The main email addresses is connectwithus@bchydro, and you can also comment on BCHydro’s FaceBook page at https://fb.watch/eqz1O6X8nS/ , or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/bchydro/status/1550289683623575554 The Facebook and Twitter links are direct to BCHydro’s post about Junior’s death

This issue is not exclusive to British Columbia but what is unique to Canada’s most western province is the sheer number of Bald Eagles that call the lower mainland home. British Columbia is home to the largest population of North American Bald Eagles. No other province of Canada or US state can make this claim. That said, all large raptor species that can land on these power poles ——–and the poles where you live — need to be safe! There is no excuse. We know the problem and we also have the solution at hand.

Thank you!

Late Saturday in Bird World

23 July 2022

Oh, it turned out to be a cracker of a day in Winnipeg. Everyone woke to a forecast of rain and then the skies cleared. The paths at the nature centre were packed with smiling faces and everyone saying ‘hello’ or talking about the teenage goslings. It was fantastic.

Sleepy babies.

Teenagers – long necks and legs. Paying close attention to the adult’s instructions!

One lone America White Pelican in the middle of the lake — image cropped a great deal!

It continues to be quiet in Bird World. Seriously this is such a good thing.

Good news has come from the Pitkin County Open Space and Trails Ospreys. You will remember that the two gorgeous and almost fully feathered osplets on the nest were pulled off when Mum got her talon caught in monofilament line and nesting material. One died when it hit the ground but the other was saved by a passerby who knew what to do – and got immediate help! That chick was in very guarded condition at the time. This is today’s update and it is a little better.

5H1 made history today as the first fledgling Osprey in Poole Harbour, UK,, for 200 years. CJ7 and Blue 022’s chick really does love to fly. Here is a video of her landing on a subsequent flight….gosh, she is pretty steady on those legs.

The names of Louis and Dorcha’s two surviving osplets for the 2022 season have been released by the Woodland Trust. There were 2674 votes cast. The winning names are Willow for LW5 with 22.7% and Sarafina for LW6 with 20.5%. That was an amazing voting turnout. Thank you to everyone that took part.

That is Willow standing up. My goodness she is going to be dark like Dorcha. Stunning plumage.

Olsen had delivered several twiddler size fish and one nice one by 10:48 at the Osoyoos Osprey platform. He brought in another fish at 12:49. Thanks Olsen! Olsen appears to have a wee crop so he is eating. Remember it is like the directions for the oxygen masks in planes – put yours own and then help your child. Olsen and Soo have to eat in order to care for the chicks and keep their health up as good as they can in the circumstances of extreme heat. Soo immediately started feeding the two chicks. The rest of the day she has kept them covered when the sun was at its hottest.

Just a quick check on a couple of other nests. The juveniles have not been seen at the West End nest of Thunder and Akecheta but, there was a fly by this morning in the distance. Those nests sure do get lonely if you have been watching intently for months and then — everyone fledges, returns to the nest for prey drops after flying, and then…poof. Gone. Turn that love into making their world better! So instead of wondering if they survived, we can say with certainty that we have made improvements and a greater percentage lives to see their first birthday.

At the Two Harbours nest, you could hear Lancer squeeeeing at 14:47 as she flew onto the nest. She was so right. The adult flew in with a fish and got out of there really quick without getting its talons trapped. So nice to see you, Lancer.

I have been following the social media posts about the electrocution of Junior on Gabriola Island just off the coast of Vancouver Island in my country, Canada. The world watched the graciousness and the love that flourished on the Bald Eagle nest and their adoption of Malala, the Red-tail Hawk as a member of their family not as lunch. It touched the hearts of hundreds of thousands of people around the world.

The tragic death of Junior, the fledgling eaglet, Malala’s friend and nest companion, shattered us.

I have noticed that some FB groups are no longer going to post any news about Junior. Of course, that is their choice but, please understand that this issue is not small and isolated. British Columbia has the largest population of Bald Eagles in the world. We are not talking about just ‘fixing’ one pole on Gabriola Island, what we want is an undertaking by BC Hydro to amend the way they construct the hydro poles immediately so that the space between the wires is wider than 7′, the length of a Bald Eagle’s wing. No bird would ever die again.

Make BC Hydro live up to what they say – words mean nothing without action behind them.

Of course, retrofitting those on Gabriola Island is paramount. More about this tomorrow but, please don’t let the story of Junior and Malala pass when something else comes in the news. We have a chance to make progress and — let’s do it. Do not let this opportunity slip through our fingers.

I am trying to find out the time of Christian Sasse’s talk on the electrocution of birds. It is possible that it will be on Wednesday afternoon at 1300 or 1330 Pacific time but, I am not certain. If we want to help the eagles we need to arm ourselves with an understanding of the problem and the solution! Thank you, Christian, for educating us!

Here is the contact information for BC Hydro:

Images on the Notre-Dame FB page show 3 juveniles flying around the nest and landing on a tree near to the nest tree. It has been really stormy there and some branches have broken. It is shocking that anything is left of that old Eagle nest!

Thank you so very much for being with us today. Please take care of yourself. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their FB postings and streaming cameras where I took my screen captures: Pitkin County Open Space and Trails, Bald Eagles 101, Poole Harbour Ospreys, Friends of Loch Arkaig and the Woodland Trust, Osoyoos Ospreys, Explore.org and IWS, GROWLS, and ND-LEEF.

Late Thursday in Bird World

21 July 2022

A video has been uploaded of Little Bit ND17’s release with a couple of views. I know you will want to see it!

There is an uproar on Gabriola Island. It appears that Junior is not the only eaglet to be electrocuted on that exact same hydro pole. Let us hope that BC Hydro can be shamed into fixing all of the power lines!

Of course, hearts just remain broken. Malala has still not been seen.

It is a bit of a wet morning at the Sydney Sea eagles nest. Fish were already there and Lady fed the two wee ones early.

The Finnish Osprey nest at Janakkalan is quiet. The two surviving chicks are sleeping. The IR on the cameras reveals at least two large fish on the nest for the babes when they wake up. 47 days old. Intruder female not seen. Mum not seen.

A fish – not large but bigger than the small ones – came on the Osyoos nest at 13:54. The second for the day I believe. Fishing is very, very difficult in this heat and it is time that communities rally together around nests that are known to be struggling and provide fresh fish for them (it has to be freshly caught/killed not frozen).

It is so hot. Soo is taking good care to make sure she shades the chicks as best she can.

It is the end of Thursday. Many nests continue to struggle with heat or with only a single parent providing fish and caring for young. The situation in Finland is nearly the same as Nest 1A at Kielder Forest in the UK. There it is the female doing all the work. I really worry for her. The males are used to staying and feeding chicks after they fledge and after the female has left for her migration. At the Kielder nest, the female will not have a chance to get in good condition for the long migration to where she spends her winters. This could be another tragedy looming. I hope not.

Thank you for joining me for this quick check on some of the nests we are closely watching. Take care. Stay safe and cool.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams or FB postings: Humane Indiana Wildlife, GROWLS, Sydney Sea Eagles @Birdlife Australia Discovery Centre Sydney Olympic Forest, Finnish Osprey Foundation and Osoyoos Ospreys.