‘Feather fathers’ rescue chicks during power job
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