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Audubon working to move osprey nest at Strawberry Field

This osprey and its family are nesting atop stadium lights at Strawberry Field in Poulsbo. The Kitsap Audubon Society hopes to move the nest to a safer place nearby. - Jay Wiggs / via Kitsap Audubon Society
This osprey and its family are nesting atop stadium lights at Strawberry Field in Poulsbo. The Kitsap Audubon Society hopes to move the nest to a safer place nearby.
— image credit: Jay Wiggs / via Kitsap Audubon Society

POULSBO — Some winged residents of Strawberry Field could get a new place to nest.

The Kitsap Audubon Society is working with the North Kitsap School District to relocate a family of ospreys, which currently nests on top of stadium lights near the center of the field.

“[The] ospreys think they have the greatest spot in the world,” Kitsap Audubon Society member Gene Bullock said.

The light pole the nest rests on is not far from the pond behind the North Kitsap School District’s horticulture building; the pond is a source of fish. Because eagles are ospreys main natural threat, tall objects like stadium lights and cell towers are ideal locations to nest and avoid ambush.

At Strawberry Field, the osprey live in a tall perch that looks out over open space. However, the risk from the nest’s location may outweigh the benefits.

Osprey nests cause concern when they’re built on electrical equipment.  “I know it’s a big concern for cell-tower owners,” Bullock said.

Cell towers are being equipped with excluder devices to prevent osprey from nesting on them.

Nests built on electrical equipment can catch fire. That’s what happened on Highway 305 in Suquamish in 2011, when an electrical malfunction at a beacon on top of the tower caught an osprey nest on fire. The North Kitsap Herald reported the birds may have damaged the beacon or a power wire while building the nest.

The fire destroyed the tower, destroyed the nest, and apparently burned an osprey’s wing.

If the district allows Audubon to install a new nesting platform, it could cost the organization $2,000 to $3,000 for construction. However, Bullock said Puget Sound Energy may donate and install a pole; that would drop the cost significantly, he said. Bullock said the Audubon Society could potentially cover the rest of the costs.

David Dyess, the school district’s director of facilities and maintenance, met with Bullock at the end of July to discuss relocating the osprey. However, because of a large number of projects and people on vacation at the time, there has been no formal discussion, he said.

If the project is OK’d, Bullock said the ideal location for a new nesting platform would be the southwest corner of Strawberry Field — the furthest from Noll Road and Hostmark Street.

Relocating osprey requires the nest they occupy to be vacant. Bullock said the ospreys will leave in September, heading south to a warmer climate. Workers would have about a five-month timeframe to remove the current nest and relocate some material to the new platform.

If the nest is moved, there’s a chance the ospreys will return to the lights and try and rebuild there, Bullock said. The best way to keep the ospreys from returning to the lights would be to build an excluder device, he said.

“There’s no guarantee that [the osprey] will immediately get discouraged and relocate,” Bullock said.

 

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