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Retired farmer's contraption aims to attract birds of prey

LYNCHBURG -- As it stands, Arlo Anderson has a very lonely pole towering over the middle of one of his farm fields.

He planted the pole this spring in the hope of attracting a new neighbor -- an eagle or a hawk.

The cedar pole, which served in a previous life as a utility pole, is equipped with a metal stand that Anderson fashioned from an old bed frame to serve as a perch for a raptor's nest.

He got the idea from reading an article in a farming publication about how landowners in Colorado erected raptor habitat poles to help eradicate rodents.

In Anderson's case, he's simply interested in cultivating an exotic form of bird watching. He's spotted several varieties of hawks in the area, including red-tail hawks.

"I thought it would be nice to see some hawks nest," said Anderson, who's retired from farming and working as an electrician.

Or maybe an even more exotic bird of prey.

"Maybe we could get an eagle there," said his wife, Doris, adding that she recently saw a bald eagle in the area.

Their farm, 3 miles south of Lynchburg, is about 35 miles west and south of Fargo.

Anderson, a barnyard tinkerer, has turned an old John Deere corn planter and some feeders into a Rube Goldberg contraption of a bird feeder.

It's parked right outside the picture window, where he has stationed his leather chair for a good view of the visiting birds, including orioles, finches, hummingbirds, rose-breasted grosbeaks, blue jays and lots of robins.

"I like birds," Anderson said.

"Anything different, he's got to try," Doris said. "He's pretty ingenious when it comes to putting things together."

The habitat pole is on a strip of land that isn't suitable for farming, making it an ideal location for birds of prey who like their peace and quiet.

"It's right in the middle of a section," Anderson said. "Nobody is going to bother them."

The pole is 23 feet tall, just over two stories. "That was pretty high for a deer stand," one of the Andersons' neighbors quipped.

The pole was set with 7 feet underground. "We didn't want it to blow over," Arlo said.

The raptor habitat pole is about half a mile from their farmhouse -- too far away to see without help.

"If I use my binoculars, I can just barely see it," Arlo said.

A neighbor who lives closer is helping the Andersons keep an eye on the pole to see if any hawks move in.

"You see a lot of hawks on high-line poles," Arlo said. "I hope they use it."