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ENMAX makes a fine birdhouse

For over two decades, ENMAX Power has provided nesting platforms for osprey around Calgary so that they have a safe alternative to building their nests on power poles and equipment.

And now, some other members of the bird community have been learning that ENMAX can be a great host.

Last May, ENMAX’s Calgary Energy Centre attracted a new feathered friend. A Peregrine Falcon settled at the generation site north of the city, building a shallow nest site (known as a scrape) on the facility’s heat recovery steam generator and laying three eggs.

The location posed a risk to the birds due to the excess heat, noise and vibration produced during the generation process.

“As a threatened species, we wanted to do everything we could to mitigate hazards and ensure their success,” said Shane Adam, Manager, Environment, Health and Safety. “We worked with a falcon specialist recommended by Alberta Environment to relocate the eggs to a specially designed box in a safer location at the facility.”

The team filled the box with gravel to mimic the birds’ natural cliff-side scrape environment and took steps within their operations to avoid disrupting the birds, such as restricting access to the area and putting up a video camera so that they could watch and determine if the birds were ok.

Clearly, the birds were happy in their new home. The female falcon was joined by her mate and both took to the new nesting box immediately, where all three babies successfully hatched. The location was so successful that The Alberta Raptor Preservation Society, in conjunction with Alberta Environment, asked if they could move two more chicks in from another site in Alberta that had been abandoned.

“Within an hour of moving the new babies in, the mom and dad were sourcing food and feeding all five chicks. It was incredible to see and more successful than anyone had predicted,” Shane said.

As peregrines mate for life and return to the same territory to breed each year, ENMAX has again prepared the nesting box in a safe location at the facility. The team hopes to see the female falcon back sometime in early May.

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