Program identifies and safely removes osprey nests found around electric equipment.
BALTIMORE - Mid-March means Maryland will welcome ospreys returning to settle in breeding areas around the Chesapeake Bay. Unfortunately, one favorite osprey nesting spot-the top of utility poles-poses a danger to birds while raising the risk of disruptions to electric service.
Now in its eighth year, BGE's Osprey Watch program protects the raptors and further ensures electric reliability through crowd-sourcing the location of nests built on electric equipment. Osprey nests built at the top of a utility pole can cause fires if birds or materials touch the wrong piece of equipment. Programs like Osprey Watch can help stop these fire-related outages and save wildlife.
In 2022, 12 osprey nests on BGE equipment were reported. Estimates from the Center for Conservation Biology place the Bay's current osprey population at 8,000 to 10,000 breeding pairs, with the world population estimated at nearly 100,000 birds. Additionally, BGE rescued both an injured Little Brown Bat and injured American Coot and placed them in the care of Phoenix (Md.) Wildlife Rehab, where they were successfully rehabilitated and released. Recently, BGE helped to install a utility pole with a nest box at the top to house barn owls spotted at Irvine Nature Center in Owings Mills.
Customers have reported more than 100 osprey nests since the program's inception in 2016. Once a nest is reported, trained BGE personnel take measures that keep the birds and their young safe and curtail the potential for ospreys and their nests to cause electric outages.
Here's how the program works: anyone who sees an osprey nest on BGE equipment may report it by emailing the following information to email@example.com:
- The pole number, located on a placard at eye height on the pole (**Only if the pole is easily accessible**)
- The nearest address to the pole, and photos of the pole taken from different perspectives (**If the pole is not easily accessible**)
- Alternatively, osprey nest location information may be shared over the phone with BGE's customer service team at 1-800-685-0123.
When BGE receives a report of a nest, crews follow all federal and local wildlife regulations while assessing whether the nest is inhabited. The nest is removed if no birds or eggs are present and a deterrent is placed on the top of the pole to dissuade the birds from building another nest; in some cases, BGE installs a new, safe platform specifically for the ospreys to build their nests nearby. If the nest is inhabited, crews install rubber insulation on wires and other equipment to shield the birds and protect the equipment.
More information about BGE's other environmental work is available at bge.com.
BGE is Maryland's largest natural gas and electric utility, providing safe and reliable energy delivery to more than 1.3 million electric customers and 700,000 natural gas customers in central Maryland. The company was founded in 1816 as the nation's first gas utility and remains headquartered in Baltimore City to this day. BGE is a subsidiary of Exelon Corporation (Nasdaq: EXC), the nation's leading energy utility company. Engage with the latest BGE stories on bgenow.com and connect with BGE on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.