FPL finds itself in the birdhouse business

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MANATEE COUNTY - When Florida Power & Light assessed the Duette Preserve for a project to upgrade its electric infrastructure, officials discovered one small problem in their original plan: the wooden power poles they planned on replacing were home to nests from a threatened species.

The Southeastern American Kestral are not very big birds, and they certainly don't take up much space, but they do need some room to roam and a safe place to nest.

“It had been heavily timbered in the past before the county acquired it, and over the last 10 years we planted over 2 million long leaf pine trees, which would have been the natural habitat of the Southeastern American Kestral. But absent of that structure they're using habitats such as FPL's poles to continue nesting and thriving,” says Max Dersch with Manatee County Natural Resources.

He says until the pine trees reach maturity, the kestrals are making due with the power poles. And although these new concrete poles can withstand severe weather, speed up service restoration and improve everyday reliability for power, there's one thing they're not used as well for: nests.

“When we came out here last September to do an environmental assessment ahead of the job, we noticed that the structures here in the Duette Preserve contain nest cavities from a protected bird species, says FPL’s Jackie Kingston. But after some research, she says they found that installing kestral boxes on the new concrete poles is a viable solution. “Installing kestral boxes is a first for FPL. FPL does asses every project ahead of construction, and in the past we have installed woodpecker boxes, and also preserved woodpecker nests, but in this case this is a first for us in preserving the Southeastern American Kestral cavities.”