Eaglet alert: Eversource, MassWildlife band bald eagle chicks

Jun 2, 2021

Eversource and Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife staff members were given a rare up-close look at bald eagles — Massachusetts’ largest bird of prey — on Tuesday, May 25, when they were tasked with tagging a pair of eagle chicks.

Eversource brought a bucket truck to town to help MassWildlife band two eagle chicks that were nesting on an osprey platform that had been set up deep within Eversource’s right-of-way. 

William Hinkle, a spokesperson for Eversource, said the situation was unique because “to the best of our knowledge, we’ve never had bald eagles successfully nest on one of our platforms.” 

Hinkle explained that the company had specifically installed the pole and platform for osprey to use so that the birds wouldn’t nest on an Eversource utility pole, as is somewhat common. And while it is common for eagles to try to use osprey nests, Hinkle said they’re not usually successful. 

“Osprey are more aggressive than eagles,” he said, noting that ospreys will usually harass the eagles until they abandon the nest and go elsewhere. “The eagles had successfully taken over the nest. It’s really the first time anything like this has happened.”

Because it was an unprecedented situation, Hinkle said it was the first time Eversource had worked with MassWildlife to band eagle chicks. 

Jason Zimmer, a district supervisor for the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife, confirmed that the two chicks were the first eagle chicks banded in Wareham. Zimmer said when the chicks were banded, they were estimated to be roughly 5.5 weeks old. 

Hinkle explained that the location of the platform within Eversource's right-of-way would have made it “difficult for MassWildlife to get up there with their equipment,” so it only made sense for Eversource to bring in a bucket truck. 

“We try to work with MassWildlife whenever possible,” Hinkle said. “We take our role to provide reliable and safe  service to our customers while being responsible environmental stewards really seriously.”

Marion Larson, chief information and education officer for the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife, said MassWildlife appreciated that Eversource supplied the bucket truck. 

It “saved us time in that we didn’t have [to] send up a tree climber, which takes longer as you can imagine,” she said.

A MassWildlife fact sheet about bald eagles in the Commonwealth reported that “there are now more eagles nesting in Massachusetts than any time in the recent past.” 

MassWildlife also requested residents’ help in keeping track of eagles: “In late winter through June if you see: 1) birds carrying sticks or 2) eagles sitting in a large nest, please report these sightings to MassWildlife@mass.gov,” the fact sheet encouraged. 

In a Facebook post, Eversource explained that the bands will also “help MassWildlife staff keep track of the birds.”

“We were proud to work with MassWildlife in this instance to promote the conservation of bald eagles,” Hinkle said.

This story has been updated to include details from Jason Zimmer, a district supervisor for the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife.