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Bainbridge osprey family to be relocated from Coppertop cell tower

A family of ospreys that have been nesting in a cell tower near the Coppertop Park complex have been provided a new safe alternative nesting platform on the grounds of the nearby Sonoji Sakai Intermediate School through the collective efforts of several concerned island parties and volunteers.   - Jay Wiggs photo
A family of ospreys that have been nesting in a cell tower near the Coppertop Park complex have been provided a new safe alternative nesting platform on the grounds of the nearby Sonoji Sakai Intermediate School through the collective efforts of several concerned island parties and volunteers.
— image credit: Jay Wiggs photo

A partnership of concerned island citizens recently worked together to guarantee the safe relocation of a family of ospreys that have been making their home in a cell tower near the business complex at Coppertop Park.

Despite repeated exclusion attempts by T-Mobile, the company that owns the tower, the birds managed to circumvent their anti-nesting devices and continued to make their home on the tower which can be dangerous for both the birds and the equipment, said local wildlife photographer Jay Wiggs.

“Sticks from the birds’ nest can cause fires,” Wiggs explained. “It can be dangerous.”

It was the worry of Wiggs, and Janice Danielson of the nearby Bainbridge Self Storage, as well several other parties that brought them together to form a plan to relocate the birds.

“Bainbridge Island Self Storage folks contacted Jim Kaiser of Osprey Solutions,” Wiggs explained. “He’s an expert on Osprey relocation. He approached the Sakai school and asked if they would be interested in putting in a pole.”

Osprey Solutions/Raptor Research and Management Services is a Seattle-based environmental consulting firm that offers a full range of raptor research and management services to industry and government organizations.

The new nesting platform, which sits on top of the pole on the school grounds, is located in a favorite foraging area of the birds.

“The birds frequent that area behind the school on a daily basis to collect sticks,” said Kaiser, a consulting wildlife biologist with Osprey Solutions. “It’s likely they will adopt the new platform.”

Though it’s too late in the nesting season to relocate the birds now, as they have already laid their eggs, Kaiser is confident that if their current nest is removed later in the season after their babies are born the birds will find the new location irresistible next season.

“We tried to get something to happen really quickly, so that maybe the ospreys this year could put their nest somewhere other than that [cell tower] arm,” Janice Danielson, manager of Bainbridge Self Storage said. “We were hoping to get it done before the ospreys laid their eggs, but we were just a few days too late.”

The nesting platform, paid for in part by T-Mobile, will not only be safer for the birds and the tower equipment, but also a good opportunity for the students to observe the animals, Danielson said.

“We just wanted to help get something done,” she explained. “It’s a good opportunity for the kids. Bainbridge is a very conscious island in terms of animals and wildlife. People notice [where the birds are nesting] and they ask questions about what’s being done about it.”

Danielson praised Kaiser and his group for the work they did organizing the project and his ability to interact with the birds.

“He’s amazing,” she said. “He was out there watching the female osprey and he was making the sounds like the baby ones do to get her attention.”

Kaiser said that raptors nesting in industrial areas was “becoming more common,” and that the best nest management strategy is one based on the concept of coexistence, using effective, non-lethal, nest excluder devices to completely discourage nesting attempts at undesirable sites to ensure bird protection and reliability of industry operations while simultaneously accommodating the nesting birds.

For more information, visit www.osprey-solutions.com.

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