Consumers Energy Hopes to Be Where Eagles Fly

Wildlife NewsCompany erects nesting platform at power plant

Posted by alpayne October 29, 2008 15:18PM

Consumers Energy officials hope a new project on the power plant grounds will convince a pair of the raptors to nest there.

Officials installed a wooden nesting platform Thursday on the northern end of the Consumers property, which encompasses 2,400 acres on the Saginaw River and Bay.

The platform, erected atop a 60-foot-tall utility pole at a place known as Windy Point, was built by Dave Best, an eagle expert with the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife in East Lansing.

The event featured representatives from the Audubon Society, Utility Workers Union of America Local 144, Wildlife Support Team and Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

"We're hoping, and actually Dave Best thinks that it's a fair shot, that we might get an eagle to nest here," said plant spokesman Kelly Farr. "There are none nesting on site right now that I'm aware of."

Bald eagles build huge stick nests, up to 15 feet across, and often reuse their nests for many years, according to the book "Birds of Michigan."

Eagle populations have recovered in recent years in the Great Lakes, but the species is still listed as threatened in the Southwest, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife's Web site. There are at least 26 active eagle nests in the 22-county Saginaw Bay watershed, according to Farr.

Joe Soehnel, a Hampton Township birder, said the nesting platform could be used as early as November.

"I think it's a good idea," he said of the platform.

"We have an ample supply of bald eagles in the area and they tend to winter in the hot pond area of Consumers. So even if some of the resident bald eagles don't utilize that, some of the wintering ones might."

Soehnel said he's seen as many as 23 bald eagles at one time at Consumers in the winter.

"They start building on their nest in the late fall," he said. "They start looking for nesting sites in November" and start to nest around February.

Reference Link (includes a couple of photographs) : ... _be_w.html

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