Ospreys built a nest on the utility pole of this chicken coop – so they built a new safe home for the birds
The work of the ospreys was impressive. Large sticks and branches, picked up nearby almost certainly by the male, had been rearranged by his female partner into a square shape – the base of a nest the two would use for many years to come.
It was, apparently, a perfect location for their breeding house. High up, in a large open area in rural Gray Eagle, and with plenty of fishing (including Big Swan Lake) nearby.
There was a problem. They had chosen the top of a high-voltage electric pole that threatened to burn the carefully constructed birds’ nest.
For Stearns Electric Association, the solution was obvious: Build them a new place to call home.
“We knew we had to pull it out,” said Whitner Divletson, marketing and communications supervisor for the Electric Co-op, to Bring Me The News, “and we knew we had to rebuild something for them so they could have a safe place to call. home. “
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Twelve days after the Stearns Electric Association learned of the nest’s existence, they had a brand new, taller nesting platform ready for use. On June 4, the crew members erected this new platform nearby and saw the avian pair quickly take over. (You can see photos of the osprey nest and the installation of the new platform below.)
Installation of the Osprey platform
Via Stearns Electric Association.
“I’m always happy to see a power company step in and provide a suitable nesting site for some ospreys,” said Vanessa Greene, director of Twin Cities Metro Osprey Watch.
Ospreys, like bald eagles, were critically endangered in the 20th century due to habitat loss, DDT pesticides, and human impact. In southern Minnesota, the once abundant raptors have been “largely wiped out” as a breeding species, Greene said.
A DDT ban, coupled with a concerted reintroduction that began in 1984, helped them bounce back, and Greene now monitors 159 known osprey nests around the Twin Cities. She said the species frequently builds nests on items such as utility poles, cell phone towers and lighting fixtures on athletic fields.
“The increase in nesting attempts on man-made structures is a sign of the osprey’s wonderful adaptation to life around humans,” she said, “where we can enjoy watching them go through their reproductive cycle. “.
Divletson said the Stearns Electric Association has built osprey nesting platforms a couple of times in the past decade. In this most recent case, the co-op secured the necessary permits from the Minnesota DNR while working with the owner of the land on which the pole sits.
“We are a local electric cooperative, so we are very concerned about our local community and we also care about the environment,” said Divletson. “We knew if we didn’t do something the osprey could come back and rebuild a nest on our utility pole.”
She said the ospreys quickly settled in the new nesting place and collected and organized sticks and branches.
According to Greene, these replacement platforms are “generally a very efficient solution” for moving an unoccupied osprey nest.
“If the proposed diversion pole is slightly higher than the chosen location, they will almost always accept it,” she said, noting that it should be high, near a fishable spot and away from the big ones. trees to avoid one of their main predators, the great horned owl.
However, this osprey pair is unlikely to breed successfully this year. Ospreys usually migrate south from September, and the birds likely don’t have enough time to lay, incubate, then feed and watch the young for another three months.
But the work of the Stearns Electric Association is unlikely to be wasted. The couple will use this summer to build a nest and establish territory, Greene said, and will almost certainly return to the same location in the years to come.