How Birds Impact Your Power
June 03, 2019
Not only do our operations deal with birds daily, but they also impact you.
Why is SaskPower concerned about bird populations and nesting locations?
Birds and other wildlife cause about 4,000 power outages yearly.
This is because they:
- perch or nest on our powered structures
- fly into our power lines
- are impacted during construction or maintenance activities
Because of this we’ve created a plan to lower our interactions with birds. We want to know what bird species live near our facilities. That’s why we’re supporting the creation of the Bird Studies Canada Saskatchewan Breeding Bird Atlas.
This research will help us with:
- future projects when we do our environmental evaluations
- managing risk to these species on a day-to-day basis
What is the Breeding Bird Atlas? How will SaskPower use this research?
The Atlas collects information about birds in the province. This includes:
- species type and habitat preference
- birds that nest in Saskatchewan
- birds that stopover in Saskatchewan during their migration journey
Some species of birds, such as grassland song birds, have been declining in population.
Data from this work will help us plan better when working in nesting habitat. This allows us to plan our activities better to not disturb the birds during nesting season.
This year, we’re also helping with a Bird Studies Canada team. They’re surveying the Camsell Portage region in Saskatchewan’s far northwest in June. This area is very remote, meaning there is little data. This work will help create a complete picture of bird populations for the Atlas.
Research for the Atlas began in 2017. Atlas’ like this repeat every 20 years to document population changes. This research will wrap up in 2021.
When and how can I take part in surveying for birds?
So far, 193 people have logged approximately 130,000 records and found 265 species in the province! Bird surveying happens between late May to mid-August, with a focus on June.
Volunteers collect bird counts and observations for the Atlas. All the data's used to make a collection of maps for each bird type in the province.
How was one employee involved with this initiative?
Brett Quiring, a SaskPower employee, is using his passion for birding to help with the project. To date, he’s put in over 200 hours of his own time into surveying for the Atlas. He’s also the regional co-ordinator for the southeast part of the province.
He also participated in a SaskPower supported survey of the land around:
- Boundary Dam Power Station
- Shand Power Station
- Poplar River Power Station
The Atlas identified the areas around the power plants as priority areas. This was a great chance to discover species at risk. While he was birding at Poplar River, Brett spotted a Least Tern. This is an endangered species not expected in Canada. This was a great find!
In total there were:
- 8 species at risk around Poplar River
- 11 species at risk between Boundary and Shand
How has SaskPower managed risks caused by birds?
We deal with each situation differently. No matter what the situation is, our goal is to prevent harm. We typically deal with:
- we’ve built nesting boxes and platforms to move nests from high risk areas
- built swallow condos and barns to encourage nesting away from our facilities
- power line hits
- installed line markers in higher risk areas to reduce bird collisions
- created standards to lower contact on high risk structures
- nesting locations
What do you do if you find an injured bird?
There are situations where you should or shouldn’t help. Unsure what to do? Call the provincial wildlife hotline at 306-242-7177 or visit their website here.