A new osprey nesting platform erected in Lancaster County by PPL Electric Utilities and the Pennsylvania Game Commission is generating a buzz among local officials and residents anticipating a future view of the large, fish-eating birds of prey.
The new platform, placed at River Front Park in East Donegal Township, near Marietta, is the first of six we plan to add throughout our service territory. The remaining five sites have not yet been determined, but we’re working with the Game Commission to seek spots near known nesting areas that would be attractive to osprey.
The nesting platforms, built to a height above the surrounding tree line, offer a safe nesting place for osprey, considered threatened and protected in Pennsylvania. The birds are known for nesting on artificial structures, such as electricity transmission towers, located near water where the birds can feed.
We got involved after being contacted by Marietta Mayor Raymond Vegso and his wife Sally. They raised the idea for the platform after seeing several failed nesting attempts on a nearby bridge over the Susquehanna River.
“We are very grateful for PPL and the people at PPL who responded,” the mayor said. “Bird watchers are very, very happy about this. We’re all excited.”
The hope is that the osprey will choose to nest on new platforms rather than on bridges — or on our transmission and distribution lines. Those nests can affect system reliability.
“There are very few natural nesting locations that are suitable for these birds, so they tend to use manmade structures for nests,” said Jeff Luzenski, a PPL senior environmental professional. “So, providing them with a good nesting structure in attractive location like this helps them survive and thrive.”
Luzenski said that PPL employees volunteered on a weeknight to help with the installation work. Among those who led the cause were Jennie Fiorito, a senior environmental professional, Regional Affairs Director Jess Long and Transmission and Distribution Foreman Charles “Jake” Thurfield. (That’s Jake in the pictures above, working to install the pole.)
Dan Mummert, a wildlife diversity biologist with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, said getting the osprey platform built was “a great experience.”
“This project was an excellent example of cooperation between different organizations and was a win-win for the Game Commission, PPL, and the osprey,” he said. “Providing safe nesting platforms for osprey is a great way to help prevent these birds from building nests at locations that aren’t suitable, such as active electric poles. I’m looking forward to working with PPL again in the near future to install additional osprey platforms to benefit this Pennsylvania threatened species and help prevent them from nesting on live transmission poles.”