A tangle of thorns atop a power pole started sparking the last week in May.

An osprey had started to build a bulky nest of branches and sticks on the pole just north of Grey Eagle, Minnesota, a small city in Todd County about 40 miles northwest of St. Cloud.

When the sticks caught fire, Stearns Electric Association swooped in to save the day — by setting a taller pole nearby and building a platform to house the nest.

“With the high voltage electricity running through it, it was unsafe for the birds and unsafe for our line crews and our system reliability,” said Whitney Ditlevson, communications and marketing supervisor for Stearns Electric.

Ospreys build nests high up and in the open to accommodate their large wing span and hunting style.

“Before [humans] took over, they would nest in dead trees. But what do we do with dead trees? We cut them down,” said Vanessa Greene, director of Twin Cities Metro Osprey Watch.

Last year in the eight-county metro area, there were roughly 75 osprey nests on platforms, 30 on cell towers, 25 on ball field lights and 25 on power lines — and only two in trees, Greene said. #22-19-401


Nests built on power lines sometimes need to be removed, which requires state or federal permits depending on whether there are eggs or chicks.

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