Installing the First Raptor Roosts 2

 

Pacific Power was our local electric source, and I slightly knew one of their administrators. I contacted him and explained the project, asking how I could get the poles installed. He told me all about Pacific Power’s raptor protection program, their efforts to make power lines safer for birds, and that they had a few volunteers for projects like mine. He put me in touch with a “line truck” driver. This truck has a gigantic drill for drilling holes in the ground, a big lift for picking up the pole, a scoop for the dirt and a power tamper for the replaced dirt. I had fantasies for years about having one of my own!

Some breath holding moments of picking up the roosts at the farm were followed by a fingers-crossed trip up to the site nearby. The volunteer driver told me on the way that this area was so dry the soil never froze and they could put poles in at any time of the year. Part of the definition of short grass prairie or high altitude desert steppe?

The most exciting and heart-stopping moment is when the roost is tipped up into the hole. It is the first time I see it upright, whole and in 3 dimensions—and too late, incidentally, to make any changes. One of the risks of my art process!

"Raptor Roost L-2" outside Laramie, Wyoming, 1988

 

 

Monitoring the Roosts

 

Nancy and Jim, their other neighbors and I observed the roosts for several years.  Sometimes I would see a hawk on one of the roosts, and slowly approach it to take photos. When I got too close,  it would usually lift off and fly to the other roost. Nancy reported several times that she saw young eagles on the painted roost, so I speculated that Hawks don’t mind color and Eagles may prefer it.

Over 20 years later, both roosts have weathered to grey wood, but both still stand out in the Wyoming Wind, hosting hawks. I have collected the pellets of fur regurgitated by hawks lying under the roosts and found tiny mouse and ground squirrel bones in them, like barn owl pellets.

 

Ferugenous hawk landing on "Raptor Roost L-2"

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