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Sustaining bird populations within our service territory is a hallmark of Alliant Energy's environmental efforts. The return of several raptor species is proof that mankind, nature, and the utility business can work together for a better environment.
Building a new home for fish hawks
One morning in February 2011, a group of Alliant Energy employees near Portage, Wisconsin, found themselves living our Responsibility Core Value while working on a unique construction project. This installation included a partnership between the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), American Transmission Company (ATC) and Alliant Energy. The installation of a new home for fish hawks – or what’s commonly known as an osprey platform – is what brought this team of volunteers together.
WDNR Wildlife Biologists and other volunteer organizations have been erecting artificial nesting platforms for ospreys since they landed on the Wisconsin Endangered Species list in 1972. Osprey populations in the state have been increasing since the pesticide "DDT" was banned and artificial nesting structures were placed in key habitats. As a result, the osprey was upgraded to Threatened status in 1989 and was taken off the list entirely in 2009.
The installation of this nesting platform began with WDNR field representatives weaving together sticks and twigs then securing this onto a three-foot square metal platform, which the crew then attached to the top of a utility pole. The pole was placed in a marshy area near Lake Wisconsin in Columbia County on property owned by Alliant Energy. ATC donated the platform and the 56-foot pole.
Putting the nesting platform near water is important because ospreys are raptors that feed primarily on small fish. The osprey is the only local bird of prey that plunges into the water to capture fish. The birds tend to choose nesting sites that are high above bodies of water – oftentimes higher than the height of an average tree – where they can swoop down quickly and catch fish.