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Flint Energies Supports Local Osprey Habitat

In keeping with its commitment to improve the quality of life for Middle Georgia residents, Flint Energies has extended that commitment to the feathered kind, ospreys. Recently, Flint Energies, along with the Perry FFA, installed an osprey nesting platform in southern Houston County at former State Representative Larry Walker’s farm.

The idea for the project hatched last spring. While perusing the May 2018 issue of Georgia Magazine, Walker read an article about repurposing a utility pole into an osprey nest. Not long afterwards, Walker approached Flint Energies CEO Bob Ray at a luncheon and inquired about having one installed on his farm outside of Perry, since he had observed some osprey in the area.

Flint has been in the business of bringing people together to meet a common goal since 1937 when several farmers banded together to create the electric cooperative. It wasn’t long after that luncheon when Flint Energies Agricultural Specialist David Yelton enlisted the help of Perry High School Future Farmers of America (FFA) Advisor and educator Kyle Dekle, along with Bob Sargent, program manager of wildlife conservation with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Dekle agreed to recruit his FFA students in construction of the osprey nest, while Sargent provided insight into osprey nesting habits.

It is interesting to note that Larry Walker is a former member of the Perry FFA and his father, Cohen, was the first ag teacher at Perry High School.

While Flint crews identified the ideal location for the utility pole to be set at the Walker farm, FFA students Jacob Spivey, Axel Lindstrom and Jayden Chance got to work researching and constructing the osprey platform from plans found on the internet. The two groups met one cold morning in February to install the platform and set the pole.

“It is amazing how a simple project to construct a bird platform can generate so many positive impacts,” says Ray.  “Obviously, the project encourages the habitat of a special raptor for this area and promotes wise stewardship of our natural resources.  On a bigger scale, this project has united generations of Perry High School FFA leadership spanning five decades.  It has raised awareness of our environment and has given high school students the opportunity to build something bigger than themselves. The project allowed those students to engage at least five professions to which they now have a unique bond and connection.  And, it helps demonstrate that electric co-ops are fully invested in the quality of life for those we serve… including ospreys!”

An osprey is a large raptor approximately 20-24 inches long with a wingspan of up to five and a half feet. Ospreys thrive wherever there are shallow bodies of water with abundant fish. Osprey nests are large stick structures often built in trees near or over water. Manmade nesting platforms are located in open areas with no overhead canopy or interfering vegetation within a mile of open water. The platforms can be 20 to 100 feet tall and are equipped with predator guards and can support up to 300 pounds. To stimulate osprey interest in the manmade nest, a few small tree limbs were placed on the platform.

Not only is this project about wildlife conservation, it is about providing safe, reliable electricity as osprey have been known to take up residence on in-service utility poles. Flint Energies is ensuring local osprey have a safe nesting area away from the Co-op’s power lines.

“Although they can be found in this area, ospreys are not very common this far inland, “says Yelton. “Mr. Walker and his wife have been excited to see several around their farm recently. Hopefully, the structure will be successful and attract a nesting pair this spring.”

As of press time, we are still awaiting word if any ospreys have taken up residence on the platform.

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