Robins safe on AltaLink watch

You would normally expect a bird to build its nest and raise its young in a tree or a bush.

AltaLink employees kept this American robin’s nest safe until the birds could hatch recently.

AltaLink employees kept this American robin’s nest safe until the birds could hatch recently.

You would normally expect a bird to build its nest and raise its young in a tree or a bush. This was not the case for one American robin that decided to build her nest and raise her babies on top of a cooling fan in a substation outside of Ponoka.

“AltaLink’s substation was not energized at the time and there had been no construction activity on site for four days. This gave the robin enough time to build her nest and lay her eggs,” said Nikki Heck, environmental advisor for AltaLink. “When one of our construction crew members arrived on site to do some work, he was surprised by the unusual visitor.”

As soon as the nest was discovered, the environmental team at AltaLink was contacted for guidance as to how to handle the situation.

“We instructed the construction team to place a buffer zone around the nest so the robin could care for her eggs,” said Heck.

The American robin is federally protected under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, which prohibits anyone from moving or disturbing the nest. Once the robin lays her eggs, the average time from incubation to the fledglings leaving the nest is 30 days.

AltaLink crews were able to complete some work away from the nest, such as testing circuits and working in the substation’s control building. Due to the work restriction, the project’s completion date has been delayed from Aug. 20 to Sept. 9.

“Our priorities are clear in a situation like this,” said Heck. “We wanted to make sure the female robin is not disturbed and that the fledglings will grow into healthy robins.”

AltaLink’s environmental team has been monitoring the nest from a distance, outside of the buffer zone, since it was first reported to ensure the safety of the robin and her babies.

On Aug. 1, the first of the babies began to fledge the nest. On Aug. 5, all of the fledglings and the robin had left the nest. On Aug. 6, crews were able restart work in that area.

“We’re thrilled to see that all the fledglings were healthy and able to fly away.”

— Submitted