Electrical companies educate young bird lover

A Peachland kid got a chance to examine ospreys from their perch in Lake Country

Chevy Matthews cares about the environment.

The 10-year-old from Peachland sent a letter to FortisBC after she watched an osprey’s nest fall off its perch during a windstorm last year.

In Lake Country, Friday, Chevy and her mother Barb Haley, learned what FortisBC and BC Hydro do to ensure birds are protected.

“We saw two ospreys on our way here,” said Chevy, as she shaded in her colourful osprey drawing, featuring the birds from a top view.

Related: A bird’s eye view of Okanagan Lake

Haley keeps a set of binoculars in her glove box to watch ospreys on her drives with Chevy around the Okanagan Valley, but she said her daughter’s love of the birds comes from her grandmother.

“To be honest there’s a bird book on our dining room table, she comes by that honestly. Her grandma is very good at birding and loves her birds and they talk a lot about birds. It’s just something we do at home.”

Chevy also keeps a blog and cares about how the environment is protected.

The pair is happy the birds have returned this year to their nest in Peachland, located near Peachland Elementary.

“Whatever they used to strap down that platform rotted away so it just slid right off. So we talked about it and said ‘what if we have a wind storm right now? What’s going to happen to that nest? We were concerned about it.’”

Roxanne Tripp, environmental program lead for FortisBC Inc. said the companies build the platforms to ensure the birds have places to nest, but also to prevent them from nesting on live power poles.

“As long as your nest pole is higher than the existing utilities, they will always choose the higher nest site. So that’s how we do it. We put up deterrents on infrastructure that they’re trying to nest on and as close as possible we will put up a nest pole with a platform that provides a better nest site that our activated infrastructure,” she said.

“If they’ve already started to nest and we haven’t got it in time, that’s when we’ll bring in biologists and if we do have to move the nest for safety purposes, then that’s done in a way that we can move it to a nest pole nearby.”

She estimated FortisBC has about 70 osprey nesting sites in the Okanagan and Kootenay regions.

“We have a lot of water, we have a lot of fish. They like to be near shallow water and they can’t dive underwater so they have to be able to catch fish at the surface. So these lake shores and these shallow lakes, pretty much wherever you find something like that, you’ll probably find osprey.”

The companies provide the nesting sites for the birds to avoid safety issues with the nests on power lines. They are good indicators of an ecosystem’s health.

See the ospreys on their perch in Lake Country on Gatzke Road or for ospreys in Kelowna check out www.fortisbc.com/osprey for a live feed of an osprey nest on Benvoulin Road.

@carliberry_
carli.berry@kelownacapnews.com

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