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Nesting Hawks Force Pause of Two Separate Water Tower Jobs

9 June, 2021

Of all things to put off a project — COVID, product shortages, or just someone stymied on color selection — a hawk’s nest might not figure up high on your list. That’s not to say it won’t ever happen. A nesting hawk, through some hard-nosed negotiations, managed to get the repaint of the historic Oshkosh, Wisconsin water tower postponed until September.

As the painters ascended the tower a dive-bombing hawk kept them at bay. They quickly climbed back down, as this can involve a bird with a four-foot wingspan at 120 miles per hour, but each time the painters tried to get to the jobsite the same thing happened. Finally the contractor called the city, and the police department sent up a drone to investigate.

The drone flew over the site and provided photos and videos of a red-tailed hawk guarding a nest with two chicks, with two more adult hawks in the area. For the safety of everyone involved — birds and painters — the project is being pushed back until September 1, and the city of Oshkosh is taking the information about the birds and the nests into consideration as they plan future outdoor projects.

While wildlife experts say that hawks don’t usually next in water towers, isn’t a one-of-a-kind issue. Earlier in May a Hawk’s nest on a Washington, Michigan water tower postponed a $550,000 painting project until the chicks were on their own. A federal law from 1918 prohibits disturbing the nest, and the contracting company, Seven Brothers Painting, also felt it was the right thing to do to allow the birds to nest in peace.

In this case, a nearby resident said that the hawks have been setting up house there for several years. While the experts said that hawks likely won’t attack a human intruder, they will dive bomb as a method of driving them away and that’s usually scary enough to get the point across. Once the fledglings are on their own, which takes about seven weeks, the painting on the Washington tower can begin.

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