Austin Energy’s removal of parakeet nests questioned

Monk Parakeets in Austin at the UT intramural fields (KXAN Photo/Ed Zavala)
Monk Parakeets in Austin at the UT intramural fields (KXAN Photo/Ed Zavala)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Travis Audubon Society has put Austin Energy on notice after, they said in a Thursday Facebook post, the company is using poles to knock Monk Parakeet nests from power poles.

Austin Energy in return explained that the Monk Parakeets build large nests, sometimes as large as a car, which can cause a large fire hazard. Austin Energy said the nests, often made of sticks and other combustible material, arc, catch fire and fall to the ground.

“Our crews are out, and they’re very careful, they’re very thoughtful, they don’t go out and remove all the nests everywhere, we really only look at nests that have an extreme public safety or reliability issue,” said Austin Energy spokesperson, Elaina Ball.

Monk Parakeet nest in Austin (KXAN photo)

But the Travis Audubon Society says while they understand what the hazards could be by leaving the nests, the organization believes there is a better way to handle the issue. Jordan Price with the Travis Audubon Society believes Austin Energy could remove the nests when the birds aren’t laying eggs.

“We respect them they are providing a wonderful service for people in Central Texas but just don’t go out of your way to murder innocent birds,” says Price.

Price says the utility company removes the nests by just knocking them down and discarding the nests. “As the crews are working, birds come out of the nest and divebomb the crews to try to protect their babies before they fall down to the street below and get thrown in the trash,” says Price.

Ball wants to reassure people they do not treat the birds poorly. She says crews are cautious of the nesting season but sometimes public safety requires swift action.

“We’ve seen that sometimes the birds will build them on what we call the air switches and this is where two main circuits come together and that’s an example of one where we will remove the nest mostly because you’re looking at six to sometimes as many as 10,000 customers that can be impacted if there is an electrical outage,” Ball said.

The Travis Audubon Society are asking volunteers to call them and then follow the Austin Energy trucks as they take down the nests at night so they can save the birds.

In 2015, the University of Texas was forced to humanely remove around 300 Monk Parakeet nests during the renovation of the Whitaker Intramural Fields.

 

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