When the warm weather arrives, it means birds are chirping and trees are developing into canopies of green. After challenging Nova Scotian winters, we are able to perform work on our transmission and distribution lines to help prevent outages. That means you’ll likely see contractors along the province’s roads and highways trimming back trees, shrubs and ground cover to help maintain reliability of the system. Warm weather also means nesting season, so we’d like to tell you what steps we take to help protect and mitigate any potential effects on birds and their nests.
What We Do
We have more than 30,000 kilometres of power lines. With the amount of work that must get done each year to ensure reliable service, we cannot refrain from maintaining the system during nesting season. That said, we take our environmental responsibilities very seriously, including doing our best to protect our feathered friends.
Our policy concerning nesting birds related to our vegetation management program requires tree crews to look for nests, chicks and eggs before they start any work. If a crew sees any signs of such activity, they must stop work and ensure a minimum 10 metre buffer around the site.
If the contractor finds the nest of a larger bird, such as an osprey or eagle, the buffer zone is 100 metres. Contractors are required to provide records of these inspections. Every year, we have situations in which crews stop their work and relocate so as not to disturb nesting birds.
Our contractors leave all compatible vegetation, including shrub species that grow and eventually take over the site, lessening the amount of work contractors need to do over time. This also increases the amount of sustainable ecology that provides nesting opportunity.
We've also made significant efforts to complete required vegetation clearing associated with capital projects outside of nesting season. If clearing is required within nesting season, in most cases, a qualified birder is brought in to assess the area prior to any clearing taking place. If a nest is identified, an appropriate species dependent buffer is established around the nest and maintained until young have fledged.
Our Osprey relocation program has helped bring back the once endangered population. Our power line technicians have relocated threatened nests from atop live utility poles to safer, unused poles that they place nearby. You may wish to check out our Ospreycam through the Museum of Natural History’s website during the summer months to see one example of our success. Ethel and Oscar’s nest was relocated in 2001 and osprey have returned to the nest each year since to hatch their chicks.