April 23, 2012

Osprey Nest

Science Center Executive Director, Iain MacLeod spent the morning of April 20 supervising the installation of a new Osprey pole/platform/nest in Laconia. This pair, which Iain has been monitoring since 2008, nested for three years on a cell tower just to the west of Opechee Bay in Laconia. Last year they were displaced from the tower and built a nest in a dead tree in a swamp close by. That nest was destroyed in a wind storm in June and their eggs were lost. This year the pair decided to build a new nest on a PSNH electric pole right on Rt. 106 – a terrible choice and a dangerous one. Ospreys always choose tall structures, and as far as they are concerned, a utility pole is just a dead tree that just happens to have some wires hanging off. Poles with double cross bars at the top are particularly appealing. Iain contacted PSNH right away and they very quickly offered to install a new pole where Iain could place a platform. Iain coordinated with NH Fish & Game, NH Audubon, and the NH Department of Resources and Economic Development (the location of the new nest is on State Park land) to quickly pull everything together. The photos show the large platform and the complete nest that Iain built for them. It was important to provide a complete “fully furnished” home for them to move into. The pair had been building their nest on the electric pole for ten days and had been mating frequently in anticipation of being able to lay eggs soon. The female will already have eggs forming inside her and needs a place to put them – perhaps in less than a week. The nest on the electric pole was removed and hopefully the birds will quickly move to their new, safe home.
The large wooden platform was assembled by Iain.
Iain built an entire nest – just like an Osprey would make.
PSNH installed the 45 foot pole.
The new pole in place with the old nest on the electric pole in the background.
The dangerous nest is removed from the live electric poles by PSNH staff.


Anonymous said...

Wow, never realized the efforts involved by those that really love all the wild animals.

Ruth Arsenault said...

When you removed the old nest did you take a 3rd of it to add to the new nest you built? And I'm sure you used gloves and hopefully not far from the old one. Good Luck

Amanda Gillen said...

From Iain MacLeod:
Thank you for your comments and concerns. None of the sticks that the Ospreys had brought to the electric pole were used in the new nest. The new nest was built and installed on the new pole before the sticks were removed from the electric pole. The rudimentary nest was barely formed and could not be removed intact. Ospreys, indeed most birds have a poor sense of smell, so using “their” sticks is really not important. If it was possible to use the sticks they had brought to the pole, I would have, but only because it’s a handy source of bulk to add to the nest, not because of any recognition that the Ospreys would have for their sticks. The story that mothers tell their children about not touching bird’s nests because the mother birds will smell human scent and abandon their nests is one of those wonderful “wives’ tales” to discourage children from handling baby birds and eggs. The birds may abandon the nest for other reasons but not because of smelling people. So, no I have never used gloves when building Osprey nests.

I have personally built or supervised the building of several Osprey nests. Right now I have Ospreys incubating eggs in two other nests that I built in NH in the last year. One nest that I built and installed three weeks ago in Tilton was occupied within 7 hours and the pair are now sitting on eggs. That nest was built from sticks from my yard and here at the Science Center and lined with grasses I pulled from the area around the pole location. Ospreys are generally delighted to find a ready built nest and as long as it matches the size, shape and materials they would choose, they will readily adopt nests.

As for location: My goal was to encourage them to move a little further from busy Rt. 106, so the new pole was installed about 100 yards away but in direct line of sight. The male Osprey is so determined to nest on the road-side poles that we are going to relocate the new pole to within 30 feet of the electric pole. The pair can no longer build on the original pole (the top of the pole has been reengineered to prevent sticks being added) but he has now started bringing sticks to the next electric pole. That pole will also be reengineered. Moving the new pole immediately adjacent to where he is determined to build should do the trick.

Brian said...

My office window is about 150 ft from the man-made nest. Co-workers and I have been watching it all week hoping to see activity.

This morning (Thurs)I saw one of the ospreys sitting in the new nest and then flying away from it.

When I looked over at the nest I saw it immediately spread it's wings and fly off. I was unable to determine how long it was there, or if it was interested in nesting there. There has been NO others sightings among my co-workers of the birds visiting the nest.

Perhaps it was trying to steal sticks to build its own nest?

One of my co-workers has observed the birds flying with sticks in the vacinity of the nest that was blown out of a tree along RT106 a while ago.

Brian said...

I'm thinking that maybe the nest has been abandoned. My co-workers and I have not seen any activity in the nest since around noon yesterday.
Right now one of the Ospreys is sitting on a stump near the nest. It has been sitting there for at least an hour without moving. No sign of it's mate.