Bald Eagles of John Bunker Sands Wetland
March 29, 2017
Survived Last Nights Storms
March 28, 2017
Eaglets Growing Up Fast
March 5, 2017
Bald Eagle Family Dinner Time
March 5, 2017
Bald Eagle Feeding the 2 Eaglets
March 2, 2017
1st Eaglet has hatched
January 31, 2017 - Bald Eagles working together to protect the eggs and nest
January 25, 2017 at 3:02pm
1st Egg Laid
Contractions begin 3:37
Egg is pushed out 5:16 & First view of egg 6:28
January 28, 2017 at 6:55pm
2nd Egg Laid
Egg is pushed out 00:49
First view is at 02:00
Our Bald Eagles Journey
John DeFillipo, director of the John Bunker Sands Wetlands Center in Seagoville, Texas, in conjunction with The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Falcon Steel America, Chapman Construction and Oncor Electric Delivery, were presented with a unique task to relocate a Bald Eagle’s nest located in the arm of a transmission lattice tower near far southeast Dallas County. This was a very dangerous location for the nest to be since this lattice tower carries 345,000 volts from Texas power plants to the eastern reaches of Dallas-Ft Worth.
Ever since the John Bunker Sands Wetlands Center was constructed in 2009, Bald Eagles have thrived at this location. But in 2011, a smattering of twigs started to appear on the arm of one of the 345kV towers. A young mated pair of Bald Eagles started laying and hatching eggs and raising their young there, not realizing that they were in a very precaurious position and that they might be killed by electrocution at any given moment.
Oncor, who owned and operated the line were already concerned about the birds’ safety and the nest’s effect on maintenance, and the company had been in disussions with the U.S. Texas Fish and Wildlife Services to determine how to deal with and manage the eagles on its towers.
In March 2013, Oncor went to John DeFillipo, recongizing the danger that exsisted, seeking his thoughts and advice. John was deteremined to do whatever he could to protect the eagles and their hatchlings. However, in order to protect the Bald Eagle habitat, the construction of a new tower and relocation of the nest would be needed. Saving this one breeding pair of Bald Eagles would take the coordination and cooperation of engineers, conservationists, biologists, volunteers, corporate executives, and most importantly, the eagles.
The presence of the nest in the electric tower posed a possible threat to the well being of the Bald Eagles and the return of the species to this area. The location of the transmission tower that the eagles built their nest on provided them with an excellent habitat and an abundance of prey, and it was in a spot that was well isolated. The eagles chose their nest location wisely when they built here, finding a spot where human intrusion would be minimized, however danger lurked for the Eagles as well as the possibility of interruption, or delay of electricity to close to a quarter of a million people.
This was to be a finely tuned project that would be sponsored by Falcon Steel America, Chapman Construction and Oncor Electric Delivery. Falcon Steel America received a call from our good friends at Oncor on Monday, July 1, 2013 requesting assistance with the relocation project. On July 18, 2013 John DeFillipo, Oncor, Falcon and Chapman Construction all meet at the John Bunker Sands Wetland Center to discuss how to move the existing arm during an upcoming outage on the 345kV line for construction. The relocation of the eagle nest required this to be completed before they returned to their home in the TE-38833 angle tower.
Falcon Steel America, Oncor Electric Delivery and Chapman Construction were faced with an amazing enterprise ahead of them to fabricate, construct and install a new tower. The new tower, which reached the height 118 feet, would be placed about 1200 feet from the original nest and approximately a mile away from the Wetland center while also affording closer ground level observation. The dubious task of removing the existing arm from the live transmission tower with the nest intact brought together the expertise and minds of many individuals from Falcon Steel America, Oncor, Chapman and the Fish and Wildlife Service. Plans also had to be scheduled and rescheduled around the Eagles leaving and returning to the nest for a new nesting season and between the hatching of and emancipation of Eaglets, commonly referred to as fledging.
Falcon Steel America’s team went out and confirmed a new site for a replacement tower with all parties involved. Falcon Steel America donated the raw material, programming and data entry for CNC, labor for fabrication, galvanizing, and bundling of material. Falcon Steel America also had a follow-up meeting with John DeFillipo on July 23, 2013 to discuss the Wetlands Centers desire for the addition of a camera on the new tower. Falcon Steel America agreed to mount the camera and radio, which the Wetlands Center supplied. Falcon utilized our design team to create custom brackets to install the camera and radio. It was determined that it would be attached to the underside of the top cross arm upon tower assembly, including all power supply wiring as required. Falcon Steel America installed a high definition camera, solar panels and a Wi-Fi network in the arm for future real-time observation and monitoring of the Eagles as they returned to the nest each nesting.
Falcon Steel America moved forward releasing stub angles to it’s shop August 28, 2013. The extension was then released September 5, 2013 with the tower and cross arms following September 11 for a total of 21,609 lbs. of steel, also including bolts. Falcon Steel America was scheduled to deliver all lattice steel and required bolts to the eagle nest location site September 23-27, 2013.
The critical keys would be the timing—the move had to happen when the eagles were gone for the season—and away from the location. Planners had to make sure they weren’t muscling in on another pair’s territory. As eagle numbers have grown, so has competition for nest sites.
However, the eagles were spotted in the area and the plan was changed to provide all Falcon Steel America material (replacement arm for existing structure & new structure lattice at the alternate nesting site) by September 20. We allocated all our resources to expedite and deliver by Monday Sept. 16, 2013.
On Sept. 15, 2013, however, John DeFillipo looked across the marsh and saw the male on the nest. “There’s Plan A, Plan B and Plan Eagle,” he said. No work could take place until nesting, breeding and, if young resulted, brooding, hatching and fledging had taken place. That meant summer 2014.
After receiving the all clear sign (eagles have departed) Falcon Steel delivered material on March 12, 2014 to allow the assembly of the new tower to begin approximately 1200 feet away from the existing tower. On April 15, 2014, the new Eagle Nest Tower had been assembled, and was laying on the ground ready for the installation of the camera and radio. Falcon Steel America’s IT dept. installed the camera on Friday April 18, 2014 anticipating the erection to be held on Saturday, April 19, 2013.
After many months of planning, and rescheduling around the nesting habits and notification of a probable 10-day departure of the Bald Eagles, the transmission tower was finally relocated on Saturday, July 12, 2014.
Oncor temporarily rerouted the electric lines, and Chapman Group Contractors then went up the tower in a lift. They surrounded the nest with green bubble wrap, and then they attached a crane line, unbolted the arm and very carefully lowered the nest and arm to the ground. U.S. Field and Wildlife Services watched intently to ensure all precautions were taken to protect the nest.
The next day it was time for the final installation, the old arm with the nest intact. It fit the new tower like a glove. Falcon Steel America fabricated a sign for all its employees to sign and had it installed after the tower was erected. The Falcon Steel America team had put in countless hours and deserved to put their stamp of approval on a job well done.
The crews then left and the waiting began.
Then it happened. That Fall, the Bald Eagles returned and surveyed the changes. They initially began to build on the old tower, and workers had to climb and remove the new sticks and branches every few days, serving as gentle push to our winged friends. By Oct 9, 2014, the Bald Eagles finally got the hint and found the “new” old nest and began adding sticks in preparation.
By late January 2015, it was obvious that the relocated nest had offered the comfortable home that the Bald Eagle pair needed, because a few eggs suddenly appeared. And later in the year, a small eaglet could be seen near the rim of their giant home.
The transition went as smooth as could be planned, and the efforts of everyone involved made it possible. The Bald Eagles now have their very own tower arm to nest upon and a lofty perch to supervise the activity going on below them.
Falcon Steel America would like to take this opportunity to extend a huge thank you to everyone who took part in this endeavor and acknowledge that its success was a direct result of the commitment, dedication to the preservation of wildlife, caring attitudes and hard work of every member involved.
Mar. 2nd 2017
Dallas Morning News
(click here for article)
Feb. 17th 2017
The Austin Chronicle
(click image to enlarge)
(click here for article)
March 10th 2016
The Dallas Morning News
(click image to enlarge)
Jan. 29th 2016
Volunteer Tom Fleming indicated
female eagle incubating one or
more eggs in nest.
Time lapse of the moment
Eagles Return to nest
Sept. 20 2015
* April 21, 2015—NBC 5 (DFW) Article
* April 21, 2015—Oncor The Wire Article
* April 17, 2015—Dallas Morning News Article
* April 17, 2015—Dallas Morning News Photos
* Nov. 6, 2014—NBC5 (DFW) Article & Video
* Nov. 6, 2014—KHOU (Houston) Article & Video
* Nov. 5, 2014—WFAA (DFW) Video
* Nov. 5, 2014—WFAA (DFW) Article & Video
* Nov. 3, 2014—Oncor The Wire Article
* Oct. 1, 2014—Oncor The Wire Article & Video