In October, 2005, just a little over a year after we moved to south Florida, Hurricane Wilma hit us directly. Although we went without power for a few days, lost a couple of trees and had minor roof damage, we were relatively unscathed. Several days later, we visited the wetland patch near our home. This is actually a wetlands preserve set aside by developers to mitigate some of the loss of original Everglades land-- the West Broward Water Conservation Area.
We found that many of the old dead trees that had served as roosts for larger birds such as raptors and herons had been knocked down.
This was one of the few relicts. I called it the "stork tree." It finally toppled in 2010.
One snag felled by Wilma took down a power pole from an abandoned line that crossed into the wetlands, and wires draped across our path. The power company removed most of the wires but left a single one that sagged down to about 15 feet over the path but was not obstructing access.
The favored perches were rather distant, so my photos are generally of poor quality. This is the second pole out from the path. A Red-shouldered Hawk is barely recognizable on the third, and Common Grackles occupy the nearer pole.
Without the old trees, the power poles became especially attractive to Ospreys that nested in a grove of exotic Melaleuca trees at the far northern extent of the preserve. Here, a Belted Kingfisher looks down at an Osprey on the pole nearest to the path.
Over the past seven years the wire provided a perch for quite a variety of birds. I recently took this photo of an unlikely association between an American Kestrel and a Loggerhead Shrike, not knowing that the wire would be taken down the next day.
A year ago I caught them sitting almost shoulder-to-shoulder!
A pair of Northern Flickers also shared the wire with a kestrel.
Once there was an odd gathering of a kestrel, a kingfisher and two shrikes.
Red-winged Blackbirds liked to sing from the wire.
For a little variety, a blackbird was joined by a Northern Mockingbird, a female flicker and a male kingfisher.
A male flicker joined this shrike.
A pair of Red-tailed Hawks conducted their courtship on the pole.
Doves were well-represented, including this Mourning Dove...
...a Common Ground-Dove...
...and a White-winged Dove.
An unusual occupant was this Common Nighthawk. They usually do not perch crosswise, and prefer a tree limb to a wire.
A bald Eagle passed by closely but did not stop.
All in all, I have tallied a total of over 20 species on the wire and adjacent poles. Other species that I have seen on the wire have been Eurasian Collared-Doves, Boat-tailed Grackles, Starlings, Fish Crows, a Northern Cardinal, Monk Parakeets, and of course, Blue Jays.
The power company had no choice but to remove the inactive wire, as the pole that supported its other end had to be removed and replaced by a new and taller one. Now the wire rests under the pole, neatly stowed and carrying only memories the many birds that swayed with it in the wind.
Now my concern turns to the fate of the old poles that course into the wetlands. Two years ago, Ospreys nested in this Meleleuca grove across the wet prairie, but this spring it was treated with herbicides and every tree was killed. Their ghosts now line the northern boundary of the preserve, eventually to be cut and removed for a highway right-of way.
I never found the actual nest (the only access is over private land), but saw the Ospreys bringing prey into an area about one third of the way down from the far end of the grove of now defoliated and dead trees. Might it be possible for the "powers that be" to allow the old telephone poles to stand, and serve as hosts for one or more Osprey nest platforms? I fear that I am assigning myself another mission.