‘Feather fathers’ res­cue chicks dur­ing power job

Midwest Times - - NEWS -

Bags might not be packed in prepa­ra­tion for a mad rush to the ma­ter­nity ward, but there’s still a ner­vous wait for three Western Power em­ploy­ees on news they have be­come “feather fathers”.

Three weeks ago, the Ger­ald­ton team of Gary Larner, Ar­nel Manalo and Dave Martin re­sponded to a power out­age just north of Ger­ald­ton.

On in­ves­ti­gat­ing, they dis­cov­ered the cause of the prob­lem was a bird nest perched on a pole-top trans­former.

When the team found four eggs inside, team leader Gary Larner said he re­alised the job had gone from a stan­dard power restora­tion task to an an­i­mal res­cue mis­sion.

“We al­ways aim to get power back on as quickly and as safely as pos­si­ble, but we also en­sure our work min­imises the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact and there are pro­ce­dures that we fol­low un­der the Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion Act,” he said.

“We knew there were six farm­ing op­er­a­tions wait­ing for power but we couldn’t re­store power un­til the nest was re­moved. We also wanted to give the eggs the best chance of hatch­ing as well.”

The Ger­ald­ton team ended up call­ing Rap­tor Res­cue founder Janelle Ende to help find the eggs a new home.

Mrs Ende said she was happy to re­ceive calls from Western Power be­cause it meant avoid­ing the al­ter­na­tive, where hawks and fal­cons could come in con­tact with pow­er­lines.

“There re­ally wasn’t an op­tion to leave the nest there,” she said.

“Even if the mother did re­turn, when the chicks hatch and start to ‘branch-hop’ it’s just way too risky to keep the nest on live pow­er­lines as gen­er­ally they end up get­ting zapped.” Mrs Ende asked a rap­tor han­dler to look after the hobby fal­con eggs, which are ex­pected to hatch any day now.

“There are some good signs that at least one of the hobby fal­con chicks will hatch this week and fin­gers crossed that it will have some broth­ers and sis­ters as well,” Mrs Ende said.

It’s the third time in four weeks the Ger­ald­ton de­pot crews have worked to re­home a nest, hav­ing helped vol­un­teers move two oth­ers from power poles to pur­pose-built perches away from pow­er­lines.

Mr Lamer en­cour­aged peo­ple to call Western Power if they saw any­thing around the net­work need­ing their at­ten­tion, es­pe­cially a dam­aged pole or fallen pow­er­line.

We couldn’t re­store power un­til the nest was re­moved. Gary Larner

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