North Texas

Construction Paused in Plano After Protected Birds Discovered

Construction crews discovered the nest atop a light pole in Carpenter Park

What to Know

  • A nest belonging to red-tailed hawks was discovered by construction workers Tuesday on top of a light pole at Carpenter Park in Plano.
  • The birds are federally protected, so that particular pole cannot be taken down until the hawks vacate the nest.
  • An expert said it could take the hawks up to two and a half months to leave for the season.

Construction crews, working on a $15.5 million park renovation in Plano, paused their work Tuesday after encountering the nest of a protected species.

Workers were using cranes to pull 60-foot field light poles out of the ground on the north end of Carpenter Park, on Coit Road near Legacy Drive. As crews approached the 20th pole, hawks began to fly around the top.

"It upset the hawks and we knew we had a problem," said Kelly Mayfield of Dean Construction – the superintendent on the project.

Kelly said the workers immediately backed off, suspecting there was a nest in the pole, and began to call their supervisors.

"Our hats go off to them, this was a subcontractor responsible for the lighting here in this project. I'm so grateful they knew what to do," said Ron Smith, Plano's parks services manager.

Within two hours, a preservationist from Blackland Prairie Raptor Center was on-site and strapped into a bucket lift to get a closer look at the nest.

"It was pretty exciting getting up there and seeing these beautiful birds up close," said Blackland Prairie Raptor Center Executive Director Erich Neupert.

Neupert confirmed the birds were red-tailed hawks -- a federally protected species. He could also see an egg in the nest.

Neupert expected the female hawk would lay up to three more eggs, which can't be moved until the fledglings hatch and fly away. That may take two and half more months.

In the meantime, the city said construction work at the park would continue. Crews will leave the light pole alone and work around it.

"As long as they give a little bit of room around this pole, they can do anything they need to," Neupert said. "These red-tailed hawks are well adapted to city life."

After the hawks fly away, Neupert recommended crews save the nest and place it on the replacement light pole -- once it's installed. That way, the hawks could return to it next year.

The city expects the park renovation project will not face delays while the hawk family is given time to raise their young.

"These birds -- they're iconic, they're native to North Texas, they are special," Smith said. "We think it's a privilege to have this opportunity to safeguard this nest."

Neupert said he reminds people nests of native birds are often federally protected. If you come across an egg that's fallen from its nest or a baby bird on the ground, without its feathers, you can gently place it back into the nest.

Neupert said humans can touch the eggs without causing harm.

If the bird is injured, Neupert recommended calling the Blackland Prairie Raptor Center.

The hawks typically feed on rats, mice and squirrels.

Neupert said the nesting hawks aren't aggressive if they're given space around their nest.

“When they're 60 feet up like that, we humans down here are not going to be an issue for them," he added.

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