[Tweeters] birds and utility poles

Gary Bletsch garybletsch at yahoo.com
Tue Mar 22 08:21:32 PDT 2022

Dear David and Tweeters,
That sounds like a fun writing project. I have a bit of information about birds using utility poles, gleaned from my database.
Funny, I just found out how many places I have birded, where the name of the place has the word "pole" in it! I had to filter those out--I'd forgotten how many birds I had seen at Radipole Lake in England, for example!
Okay, here is what I have gleaned.
There are 39 species of birds that I have noted on utility poles; there must be dozens more that I have seen on them, but not bothered to write anything down about "poles" in my notes.
Most of the 39 are species which I have simply noted as having seen perching on a pole. Here is a list of those species.
Rock Pigeon; Eurasian Collared Dove; Thayer's (now Iceland) Gull; Glaucous-winged Gull; Turkey Vulture; Northern Harrier; Cooper's Hawk; Bald Eagle; Red-tailed hawk (also seen eating prey on poles); Rough-legged Hawk; Ferruginous Hawk; Great Horned Owl; Snowy Owl; Lewis's Woodpecker; Gila Woodpecker; Hairy Woodpecker; Pileated Woodpecker; American Kestrel; Merlin; Gyrfalcon; Peregrine Falcon; Prairie Falcon; Western Wood Pewee; California Scrub Jay; American Crow; Brown-necked Raven; Red-breasted Nuthatch; Western Meadowlark (singing from a pole); Red-winged Blackbird; Brewer's Blackbird (singing from a pole).
There are a few species of birds that I have observed nesting on utility poles. Here is the list of those species.
White Stork; Osprey; Yucatan Woodpecker; Western Kingbird; Scissor-tailed Flycatcher; Tree Swallow; European Starling (also singing from poles).
I have also observed Northern Flickers and Red-breasted Sapsuckers drumming on poles.
As to mammals, I will add that I have a hypothesis about Eastern Grey Squirrels, in regard to poles. About 15 or 20 years ago, to my horror, I learned that a well-intentioned Skagit County resident was trapping "cute little Eastern Grey Squirrels" at her feeder, and then taking them "to places where they will be out of harm's way." Thus a single misguided person succeeded in spreading a nuisance species all over Skagit County. In the years that followed, I saw the same thing again and again: Eastern Grey Squirrels running eastwards along power lines and telephone lines, slowly making their way upriver. I can't remember exactly how far east I have seen them, but they have made it as far up as Rockport. I think that the squirrels climb up the poles, then use the wires as their highways! It must require far less energy to run along a straight wire, then to jump from limb to limb, branch to branch, twig to twig.
Yours truly,
Gary Bletsch
On Monday, March 21, 2022, 04:25:24 PM PDT, David B. Williams <wingate at seanet.com> wrote:

Greetings all. I am hoping to write a bit about the natural history of
utility poles, such as nest builders, hole drillers, and perchers. This
was prompted by the replacement of the utility pole across the street,
which had suffered from flicker damage.

I was wondering if anyone had any observations or thoughts on the natural
history of utility poles. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

David Williams

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