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Golden Valley structure is for the birds

Earlene Mahar and boyfriend Robert Davies are pictured with the UniSource Energy Services crew (left to right) of Ground Man Ethan Esqueibel, Construction Supervisor Jim Blem and Linemen Todd Vetter and Scott Rust with the 30-foot-tall wildlife habitat behind them.

GOLDEN VALLEY - A Golden Valley couple are eagerly awaiting the first tenants in the new, deluxe apartment in the sky they put up in their backyard with the help of UniSource Energy Services.

Earlene Mahar said she noticed a pair of golden eagles circling her property one day looking for a place to nest. She contacted UniSource Energy Services about putting up a nest for them.

"The more I thought about it, I knew there must be something I could do for these beautiful birds of prey," Mahar said. "So I started brainstorming with my boyfriend, Robert Davies. I explained to Robert that when I lived in Minnesota, I had a couple of poles with old wooden wagon wheels on top of them so local birds could make nests on top of them."

Mahar and Davies figured that an old power pole that was no longer connected to the grid would be the perfect location for a nest.

"When I contacted Mike Gibelyou (the right-of-way agent for UniSource Energy Services), I explained my idea of installing a wildlife habitat on top of an electric power pole in our yard and he seemed very interested," Mahar said.

Gibelyou arranged for her to pitch her idea to Miles Willard, the transmission and distribution manager for UniSource. Willard put her in contact with Services Construction Supervisor Jim Blem, who thought the idea had promise.

"We decided a wooden wagon wheel or a large wooden box on top of the pole would not last too long in the harsh desert conditions, so we came up with the idea of using something made of metal," Earlene said. "That's when Robert and I decided to contact Geno and Sheryl Williams, his brother-in-law and sister."

The Williams have a business in Grass Valley, Calif., called Nevada County Hardwoods. They offered Mahar and Davies a large metal wagon wheel they had. Davies drove 1,600 miles round trip to pick up the wheel.

Shortly after he returned, UniSource showed up with a crew of four men with a long trailer with a 40-foot-long used electric power pole.

It took less than an hour and a half for the crew to plant the power pole and install the metal wagon.

"I believe this is the first time we ever put a pole on a private party's property to make a place for birds to nest," Blem said. "We've previously installed arms on existing electric poles with a metal basket or wooden box for them to nest in.

"The bird nesting apparatuses are a great idea because it keeps the birds from attempting to make nests on or near the power lines," Blem said.

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