January 20th, 2021

FortisAlberta, Birds of Prey team up to save osprey

By Jensen, Randy on August 21, 2020.

FortisAlberta powerline technician Ken McLeod releases an osprey that had been entangled in a ball of twine - Submitted photo


The life of an osprey was saved, thanks to the efforts by one of FortisAlberta’s powerline technicians (PLTs) who responded to a call for assistance from the Alberta Birds of Prey Centre, and a caring sharp-eyed motorist.

Over the August long weekend, Torri Peterson from Calgary was driving along a highway southeast of Pincher Creek when a large mass hanging from an osprey nesting pole caught her attention. Curious, she approached the nest and was shocked to see what appeared to be the lifeless body of an osprey hanging there, entangled in a large ball of baling twine. In the extreme summer heat, Peterson looked closer and saw the osprey move its head. Even though it was the Sunday of a holiday long weekend, Peterson was determined to get the bird help. After making several frantic phone calls she eventually connected with Colin Weir, managing director at the Alberta Birds of Prey Centre in Coaldale.

Weir made a call to FortisAlberta, and not long after Ken McLeod, a PLT in Pincher Creek, was onsite to lend a hand. Mcleod quickly made his way to the nest and immediately lowered the exhausted osprey to the ground, according to a Birds of Prey news release. Weir soon discovered the osprey was still not out of trouble, its legs were badly entangled in the massive ball of baling twine. The baling twine was likely used by the parent osprey for nesting material.

After Weir picked up the downed bird, McLeod patiently cradled it and they worked to cut through the large mass of entangled twine. Twenty minutes later, the osprey was free of the twine. After giving the osprey a quick examination and massaging its legs and feet to restore circulation, Weir determined the best course of action was to get the bird back with its parents who were circling and calling overhead. A few minutes later McLeod sent the bird soaring skyward. First it landed on a nearby power pole, and a short time later returned to the nest, reunited with a sibling and parents.

FortisAlberta has been a much valued and appreciated sponsor of the Alberta Birds of Prey Centre for over 10 years, it was noted in the release. Thanks to FortisAlberta’s kind support, the centre has made many significant site improvements and seen its visitation rise to as high as 20,000 people annually, including many school children. This support has translated into increasing and enhanced contributions to wildlife conservation across Alberta. The centre’s popular travelling bird program has also been featured at numerous FortisAlberta company events and community safety day displays alongside FortisAlberta employees.

“I am fortunate to work with FortisAlberta PLTs every summer on a number of rescue calls across the southern region,” said Weir. “The PLTs, always a pleasure to work with, are only too pleased to lend a helping hand, both with their expertise and equipment. For us, they help make the impossible happen.

“In addition to keeping the power on often during extreme weather events, FortisAlberta employees have always exemplified what it is to be a superb corporate community partner and steward of the environment. It doesn’t get any better than this, and the osprey rescue and release is another example of these outstanding FortisAlberta corporate and employee values.

“It’s also reassuring for our staff and volunteers to know we have a such as steadfast community partner and friends at FortisAlberta we can rely on, always ready to lend a helping hand, especially during these current challenging times.”

The Alberta Birds of Prey Centre is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Sept. 7, Labour Day Monday. The Centre receives no government operating subsidies and relies on admission fees and donations to sustain its rescue work.

Every year the centre receives many calls to help injured hawks, falcons, eagles and owls from southwest Alberta.

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