Some projects are for the birds, and some are because of the birds.


It was a case of the latter for Hoosier Energy’s recent Redbird Line Rebuild.


With a right of way running through the Redbird State Recreation Area in Greene County, last spring a hole was spotted in one of the poles at Structure 80.


That hole was courtesy of a woodpecker, not an entirely unusual problem.


But when Line Working Foreman Aaron Price went up to patch the hole with an epoxy, he got more than he bargained for.


“Once I got up there, come to find out it wasn’t just a hole,” Price said. “It was a woodpecker mansion.”

Though somewhat delayed by last year’s storms and other scheduled maintenance, the old wood poles hoisting the 345 kV lines were replaced for No. 80 and its neighboring structure No. 79, which shared the same access point.


Line working foreman Aaron Price measures the depth of the hole made by woodpeckers in a Hoosier Energy pole.

“Those are the two structures we’ve changed out,” Price said. “After these two, we’re going to make some other small fixes on the lines in the area, sliding some of the dampers, replacing braces and patching woodpecker holes – smaller items like that.”


The Redbird Rebuild was an efficient effort, wrapping up in early March with 100-foot galvanized steel poles going up at No. 80 and 105-foot poles at No. 79 while using a new framing package for the first time. The crew consisted of Jared Bartlett, Chad Campbell, Colin Lane, Matt Miller, Bob Murphy, Cody Saltsgaver, Avery Wolfe, Jon Worland and Camrin Wright.


“It’s good training, especially for the younger guys to work with the big crane and move wires and structures and all of that,” Price said.


In addition to the crane contracted from R.H. Marlin, two Hoosier Energy bucket trucks were in use along with a digger derrick truck to keep the poles, cross bolts and framing in place, all while working around the de-energized lines. Contractor Hudson Excavating also aided the effort.


The new steel poles aren’t entirely wildlife proof, as wasps find the flange halfway up an attractive place to build nests. But the woodpeckers, and the insects they seek, are out of luck while the electricity flows safely and reliably once more.