Aera Energy uses Harris hawks to deter nesting birds in an environmentally sensitive manner Natural predator encourages birds to nest in a safer place
Local onshore oil producer Aera Energy is taking a hint from Mother Nature to discourage birds from building nests on idle equipment during pipeline integrity testing. The company contracted with licensed Master Falconer Paulie Corry to use a variety of falcons and hawks as non-lethal deterrents for birds frequenting the area. This unique approach uses nature to encourage birds to nest away from operational equipment. The environmentally-friendly approach keeps birds safe and avoids impacts on the company's operations.
"Under normal operations, the constant activities and working equipment deters birds from building nests and laying eggs at our gas facility. But when we shut down for testing it's the most popular place in town," says Louise Lampara, Aera's environmental advisor. "Federal and state regulations prohibit disturbing occupied nests until the chicks have left the nest. That can take weeks or even months depending on the particular type of bird. So we hired Paulie to help us take a page from Mother Nature by temporarily bringing in a natural predator to encourage the local birds to build their nests away from our equipment."
The process starts with a biologist visiting the site to look for any existing nests and locations. Any occupied nests are noted and the hawks are not permitted to disturb those existing nests and birds in that location. Corry's hawks are flown short distances or tethered to the wrist and simply walked near the facility throughout the day to create the needed presence that convinces birds to nest elsewhere. The hawks are considered "no kill" which means they are trained to seek food directly from falconers and are only flown at proper times to ensure they will return quickly to be fed.
The use of a Master Falconer to deter birds from nesting in oilfield equipment is not new to Aera. Corry and his feathered friends helped Aera during pipeline facility inspection and maintenance work back in 2012.
"While use of a Master Falconer is not common in the oil industry, other industries such as landfills, airports, amusements parks have been using falcons and hawks as protection for decades. As a company we are always looking for opportunities to do our work in the most environmentally sensitive manner," explains Lampara. "Many of the employees that work at this facility live in Ventura. Some are second or third generation to work on this property and we want to protect it. Working with Paulie is just one example of Aera's commitment as a good environmental steward while we go about our work to ensure pipeline safety."
Aera Energy is proud to be a respected and responsible California oil company accounting for nearly 25 percent of the state's oil production. Headquartered in Bakersfield, Aera is known for excellent safety and environmental performance, innovative business practices, application of cutting-edge technology, a dynamic company culture and active community involvement. With operations centered in the San Joaquin Valley, much of Aera's oil production comes from Kern County. Aera also has active oil field operations in Ventura, Monterey and Fresno counties and is in the permitting process to redevelop the East Cat Canyon oilfield in northern Santa Barbara County.