Cape Cod Osprey Management Plan

Osprey often perch and nest on power poles and other utility equipment. This can be dangerous for the osprey and cause service reliability issues for customers.

Given the abundance of osprey nesting on our utility poles on Cape Cod, we've developed the Cape Cod Osprey Management Plan (CCOMP).

The plan

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Guided by our existing Avian Protection Plan (APP), we've developed CCOMP to reduce: 

  • Osprey-related power outages and service interruptions
  • Osprey nesting on Eversource infrastructure
  • Utility-related osprey injuries and fatalities

We're also committed to improved collaboration and have been working with Mass Audubon, Wild Care, Inc., New England Wildlife Centers, The Town of Barnstable, The Town of Falmouth and The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.

The plan is both a policy and reference document to guide Eversource teams with managing osprey-related issues.

Read the full Cape Cod Osprey Management Plan (PDF)

Report a nest

To report a nest, email osprey@eversource.com. If the pole is easily and safely accessible, include the pole number (located on a placard on the pole near eye level) and the nearest address to the pole.

What to do if an osprey nest is on fire

Call 9-1-1 immediately. Dispatchers will contact Eversource directly to ensure the fire can be extinguished safely.  

What to do if you see an injured or deceased osprey on a powerline or utility pole

Contact our partner wildlife rehabilitators by phone:

Wildlife rehabilitators will work directly with our staff to determine the proper steps forward.

If the incident is after hours and the wildlife rehabilitators cannot be reached, contact us.

Frequently Asked Questions

We remove most osprey nests from our distribution line poles in order to protect both the osprey and the electric delivery system.  

When an unoccupied nest (where no eggs or chicks are present) causes an outage, fire or electrocution, the nest must be removed in order to:

  • Inspect the underlying crossarms and equipment to ensure there is no further damage
  • Repair any damage that may have resulted
  • If possible, install a nesting deterrent to try and restrict the osprey from rebuilding a nest at that location.

When an occupied nest (where there are eggs or chicks present) causes an outage, fire or electrocution, Eversource will leave the nest in place so long as power can be restored and any damaged equipment repaired.

  • Any low-hanging nest material will be trimmed
  • Insulators will be placed on the energized equipment below to minimize the risk of future outages or harm to the nest, eggs and/or chicks
  • If a hazard to the nest exists because equipment cannot be insulated and/or nest material cannot be trimmed, our crews will work with local wildlife rehabilitators, state and federal agencies to develop a plan to protect the birds and maintain the integrity of the electric system

We follow strict guidelines set by the United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife when it comes to maintaining our electric system around Osprey nests. These rules include not disturbing active nests that contain an egg or a flightless chick.

Although it may sound like an easy fix, there are many factors involved when evaluating a platform installation, including: 

  • Who owns the property where the pole is located? We typically only have an easement for the utility line. The underlying property owner may refuse installation of a platform because it will encourage osprey nesting. This is most common on residential properties or certain roadsides where osprey will drop discarded prey, sticks and other debris from the nest.
  • Is the orientation of equipment on the pole suitable to facilitate a platform? A distribution pole often carries more than the powerlines. Fuses, insulators, transformers, relays and switches are all equipment commonly mounted to the pole and/or crossarms. Depending on the orientation and amount of equipment, there may not be space.
  • Can the pole handle the weight of the platform? Distribution poles are engineered to hold electric infrastructure. Platforms can weigh several hundred pounds which may be more additional weight than the pole can handle. The structure needs to be evaluated to see if and what type of platform can be installed.
  • Will there be any objection to the installation of a platform? Although many people are inspired by osprey, it’s important to remember that this feeling is not shared by all. Osprey and their nests are smelly (from the prey they consume to their excrement) and noisy (as they call to mates and protect their territory) and before a platform can be installed, we need to evaluate the surrounding area to ensure we’re not creating a nuisance for local residents or stakeholders. 

We try to focus our efforts on what can be done within our rights on the utility poles themselves. We can't install nesting platforms outside of our easement for several reasons, including access restrictions, property rights, liability concerns, maintenance of the platform and limited construction staff and resources.

A nest with eggs and/or chicks present can only be removed if the life or viability of an osprey chick or eggs is immediately threatened by the nest’s continued presence on the utility structure.

Should a nest with eggs and/or chicks need to be removed, we are permitted under our Special Purpose Utility Permit (SPUT) to either relocate the nest to a suitable location or to rehome the eggs and/or chicks with a rehabber where they can be reared and released back into the wild. We always work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure regulatory compliance and with local wildlife rehabilitators to ensure proper care for chicks and/or eggs.

If the nest is not in immediate danger, the energized equipment on the pole will be insulated to protect from possible fire and power outage. Once the chicks have fledged and the osprey migrated to their wintering ground, the nest will be removed, and a deterrent installed. 

Osprey are a migratory species, meaning that each fall, typically sometime in September, they leave New England and travel to their over-wintering grounds in Central and South America, though some will overwinter in the parts of Florida and southern California. Once spring comes around the following year, the osprey will return north and begin building their nests. However, during the fall and winter, when osprey are in their overwintering grounds, Eversource focuses on removing the empty nests to inspect the poles and equipment and install deterrents. When the osprey return, they find a new and safer location where they can establish their nest.

Sometimes, just like young humans, young osprey have trouble leaving the safety, comfort and security of their home (nest) where they’ve been cared for and fed by their parents. But in time, they’ll realize that they need to begin fending for themselves and will eventually leave the nest and make their way to their overwintering grounds. Seeing young chicks in the nest alone is not necessarily cause for alarm, particularly in late summer August and early September when the birds are preparing to migrate.