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Nesting Encounters & Tower Technicians

One of the challenges tower technicians often face in their work is the possibility of encountering aerial wildlife, including various wild birds and their nests. These encounters can pose both safety and ethical concerns. In Canada, there are specific laws protecting nesting birds and other aerial wildlife. In this article, we provide guidance for tower climbers on how to handle such encounters with the proper legal regulations in mind.

Canada has stringent laws protecting wildlife, particularly nesting birds. The primary legislation includes the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 (MBCA), which makes it illegal to harm, disturb, or destroy the nests of migratory birds. Any activity that might affect migratory birds or their nests requires a permit from Environment and Climate Change Canada.

The Species at Risk Act (SARA) provides further protection by safeguarding critical habitats for species at risk, which may include nests and nesting sites. This act mandates the development and implementation of recovery strategies for endangered and threatened species.

Before ascending a tower, tower technicians should conduct a thorough visual inspection of the structure from the ground. This initial assessment can help identify signs of nests, birds, or other wildlife. Using binoculars or a drone can provide a closer look at potential wildlife without disturbing them and decreases the risk of being surprised when on a climb. If wildlife is observed, technicians should maintain a safe distance to avoid causing stress or abandonment of the nest. Minimizing noise and sudden movements is also crucial, as these can alarm nesting animals.

When climbing, it's important to know how to identify signs of wildlife. Nests, often constructed with sticks, twigs, and feathers, are a common sign. Birds frequently use man-made structures for nesting, so climbers should look for birds flying in and out of the structure or perched on it. When encountering occupied nests, climbers should cease all work in the immediate vicinity of the nest and consult with wildlife authorities for guidance.


Finding alternative methods or timing for the work that does not disturb the nest is often necessary. In cases where nests appear empty, it is important to confirm this through multiple observations over a period. Even abandoned nests of certain species might be protected, so seeking advice from authorities before proceeding is crucial. If the wildlife appears to be a protected species, it's essential to report the sighting to local wildlife authorities or the Canadian Wildlife Service. Taking photos of the wildlife and nests, if possible, without disturbing them, can be useful. Additionally, recording information about the location, type of wildlife, and any actions taken helps provide a clear record and ensures progress with future work.


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