HOO gets help from Tampa Electric? Owls and other birds of prey!

collage of lineworkers and owls

Our lineworkers volunteered to install poles for a future "flight barn" for rehabilitating birds of prey, like these owls.

One beautiful Saturday morning in April, three Tampa Electric lineworkers headed out to Owl’s Nest Sanctuary for Wildlife in Odessa. Their mission: install 16 telephone poles to the Sanctuary’s back property.

The poles form the beginning framework for a future “flight barn” for rehabilitating birds of prey. Once complete, the flight barn will allow the Sanctuary to release birds in the enclosed barn to determine if the birds are ready to fly, hunt and be released. The nonprofit organization currently sends birds to other facilities throughout the state for this stage of rehabilitation, a time-consuming and costly effort.

“This incredible barn with so many partners like TECO…will enable us to help raptors like Great Horn Owls, Red-tailed Hawks and even Bald Eagles finish their rehabilitation and have room to learn to hunt until we release them back to the wild,” said Kris Porter, the sanctuary’s director.

HOO’s happy to be helpful? We are! Besides the kindness of our lineworker volunteers, Tampa Electric was the first utility in Florida to establish an Avian Protection Program to protect migratory birds – including ospreys, hawks and other large birds – from potential injury or death due to contact with power lines or other equipment. We’re also a member of the Avian Power Line Interaction Committee, which leads the electric utility industry in protecting avian resources while enhancing reliable energy delivery.

Each of our six service areas has a dedicated “avian coordinator” responsible for accommodating or discouraging birds of prey nests. The coordinators receive refresher training each year. If a bird is found injured, they work closely with the Raptor Center of Tampa Bay for help.

As part of the Avian Protection Plan, our lineworkers have detailed work instructions and access to an array of equipment such as insulated wire, cones, crossarms and deflectors to help protect birds. New equipment is bird-friendly, and retrofitting is done on a continual basis.

As we continue to bury powerlines as part of our ongoing Storm Protection Plan, more bird hazards are eliminated.

“At some point all of our equipment will be bird-friendly,” says Jerry Adams, environmental compliance coordinator for Tampa Electric. Adams estimates that about 75 percent of our system incorporates protections for birds or other animals.

If you see bird nesting activity on utility equipment, please call our customer care department at 888-223-0800 and our environmental services department will respond.