Bald Eagles Nest "On-Line" at OG&E's Sooner Plant - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Bald Eagles Nest "On-Line" at OG&E's Sooner Plant

Updated:

From news release:

RED ROCK, Okla. - A clutch of bald eagle eggs is days away from hatching under the watchful eyes of expectant researchers - and the general public - who can see it all via up-close Web cams affixed to an artificial tree at OG&E's Sooner Power Plant.

A bald eagle pair is hatching three eggs in a nest where a four-egg clutch was laid in February 2008. Two of those four eaglets grew large enough to leave the nest. The adult pair has nested on OG&E's Sooner Lake since 1995 and has produced 25 young as of 2008.

"I am pleased to report that three eggs were laid in the nest during early February," said Melody Martin, OGE Energy Corp. environmental affairs manager. "It takes approximately 35 days of incubation before the eggs hatch, so the eaglets should be breaking out sometime around March 12."

This year, careful positioning of two cameras over the nest promises to give nature enthusiasts a unique view of the bald eagle young as they hatch. It's a continuation of an innovative collaboration between business and birds involving OGE Energy and the George M. Sutton Avian Research Center.

"This is the time of year when eagles around the state hatch eggs and raise their young, so the discovery of this many eggs in the nest is very gratifying," said Alan Jenkins, assistant director of the Sutton Center.

The unique "bird's-eye view" was made possible by OG&E along with researchers at the Sutton Center (University of Oklahoma, College of Arts and Sciences' Oklahoma Biological Survey), based in Bartlesville, with technical help from Atlas Computers Inc. of Owasso.

The "eagle cam," which is financed by the Sutton Center, can be accessed on the Web either at http://www.suttoncenter.org/eaglecam.html or at www.oge.com.

In 2006, a pair of bald eagles set up housekeeping in a structure that OG&E employees constructed in shallow water at Sooner Lake. The "artificial tree" was built with support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program.

Efforts to create a new home for the eagles began about three years ago. The eagles' original nest was in a tree near the Sooner Power Plant. They had successfully raised several generations of offspring there. But, because the tree's roots were inundated by the lake, it died and slowly decayed. The decision was made to build a new nesting place from industrial materials.

The "artificial tree" was built near the real tree by OG&E's Erv Warren, supervisor environmental. In 2006, the real tree fell; but the eagles adapted quickly. When the time came, they built their new nest in the artificial tree in three to four weeks.

Warren said the eagles' new nesting place was constructed to withstand the test of time in the lake. He designed a 50-foot tall metal structure that provided wooden perches and a frame on which the eagles could build their new nest.

Due largely to the restoration efforts of researchers at the Sutton Center over the past two decades, there are now more than 90 bald eagle nests in Oklahoma. Male and female bald eagles take turns incubating their clutch, which usually consists of one to three eggs. The incubation period is about five weeks. Once hatched, eaglets grow rapidly and within 11-12 weeks can leave the nest.

OGE Energy is the parent company of Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company (OG&E), a regulated electric utility serving more than 770,000 customers in a service territory spanning 30,000 square miles in Oklahoma and western Arkansas, and of Enogex LLC, a natural gas pipeline business with principal operations in Oklahoma.