What does OUC – The Reliable One do to protect large birds, particularly bald eagles, from potentially deadly interactions with powerlines? You can see for yourself at the new OUC Avian Protection Exhibit recently unveiled at the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey in Maitland.

Gregg Sampson, OUC’s Sr. Community Relations Coordinator, worked on the Avian Protection Exhibit. The small-scale version of an OUC power line includes examples of protective coverings.

Located next to a large pen housing two female bald eagles, the outdoor exhibit includes a small-scale version of an OUC power line equipped with retrofitted rubber protective coverings on the line’s conductors and transformers. Educational signage provides visitors with an overview of OUC’s Avian Protection Program, an important part of our commitment to wildlife safety and environmental stewardship. OUC employees built the exhibit.

“Our goal is to prevent bird interactions with power lines from happening because they are not only harmful to wildlife but also the cause of outages,” said OUC’s Jenise Osani, Interim Managing Director of Marketing, Communications and Community Relations, at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the center’s new addition on Oct. 11.

“Together with the Audubon Society we can raise awareness of the important role these animals play in our environment and what we’re doing to protect them,” added Osani, who’s a member of the Audubon center’s board.

Said the center’s Direction, Katie Warner: “We are excited to showcase this new exhibit at the Center for Birds of Prey. Each year, over 15,000 visitors will be able to learn about threats to raptors and how community partners are helping eagles and other raptors stay safe.”

The Audubon Center for Birds of Prey focuses on the rescue, medical treatment, rehabilitation and release of injured raptors. The center provides care to about 90 bald eagles a year and has returned 600 to the wild over its 40-year history.

Since OUC’s Avian Protection Program began in 2009, our line crews have retrofitted about 2,000 electric utility poles with avian protection covers. We continue to retrofit about 200 poles a year, concentrating on the eastern shore of Lake Tohopekaliga in our St. Cloud service territory. This area is home to one of the largest concentrations of bald eagles in the United States.

Bald eagles were removed, in 2007, from the federal list of threatened and endangered species, but they’re still protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Golden and Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.