From the NY Times:
Many of Con Edison’s challenges are well known — blackouts and steam pipe explosions included — but a lesser-known problem has proved no less nagging: how to protect its equipment from the thousands of monk parakeets that nest in the utility poles of Queens and Brooklyn.
According to the prevailing theory, the birds escaped from cargo at Kennedy International Airport and now proliferate mostly in Brooklyn and Queens, with perhaps 300 nests that cause “a tremendous cost” to Con Edison, Mr. Williams said. In eight fires on overhead equipment in past 18 months, the nests are the main suspects.
One Con Edison crew has come up with its own solution: a plastic battery-powered owl that swivels its head and makes a hooting noise, bought at a local nursery.
Hootie worked like a charm. Months went by with no new nests. But suddenly the nests were back, and the crew was back again to replace the equipment.
“Hootie’s batteries went dead,” Mr. Goodwin said. The birds immediately detected him as a fake and built their nest next to him.