Wednesday, 01 February 2023

The Bird Men of PG&E

Erik Harms works on the osprey nest from a PG&E truck's bucket. Photo by Judy Barnes.

CLEARLAKE OAKS – It all started a couple years ago when I noticed some ospreys (large fish hawks with wing spans of 54 inches) building a nest on the cross arms of a Pacific Gas &Electric power pole in our neighborhood on Widgeon Way.

I had seen bird platforms put up near power poles in other locations around the lake so I thought I could just call PG&E, explain the situation and get a platform put up. What happened was a crew came out that day, but they just knocked down the nest and left.

What I didn’t know is that the nests can cause power outages, fires, and even death to the birds when their nesting materials span two or more lines and the nest gets wet in the rain.

This year the ospreys were back and I decided to go higher up in the PG&E hierarchy. After a few phone calls by me I received a call back from Rick Trimble, Clearlake PG&E electric supervisor. He came out to my house that day to look at the nest in progress and promised to do what he could to help solve the problem.

True to his promise, he and his crew – Erik Harms, electric crew foreman and lineman Gerardo Pena (a.k.a. “Bird Man”) – were on the scene Thursday morning, April 12, with a nesting platform built by Bird Man the evening before to mount on an existing PG&E guy pole in the vicinity. The result is pictured.

Contrary to what I and some others may have thought, many of PG&E’s electrical crews do care about birds. They may even have a passion for them – enough so to dedicate their own unpaid time to helping find solutions to nests on power lines.

Harms told me that they often transport osprey eggs from nests that have to be removed to Lake County Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation in Loch Lomond for incubation. Now that is dedication!

Judy Barnes lives in Clearlake Oaks.


From left to right are PG&E Electric Supervisor Rick Trimble, Electric Crew Foreman Erik Harms and Gerardo Pena, a PG&E lineman called

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