Nesting ospreys have a new alternate home in Becker County, Minnesota

A new platform on a tall pole to accommodate nesting ospreys has been installed in Becker County by Xcel Energy, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Ospreys like to nest on very tall structures, such as cell phone towers or power transmission lines. From time to time, these structures need to be replaced; in other cases, the nests may cause a fire hazard. When this happens, a state permit is issued to the power company to remove the unoccupied osprey nest. While they are not required to, some power companies go above and beyond their duty and put up a new structure – just for the birds.

In a 2004 Nongame Wildlife survey, about 60 percent of osprey nests in the state were found to be on artificial structures. Wild ospreys prefer very tall, dead trees to nest in.

“Dead trees are rarely left standing,” said Carrol Henderson, supervisor of the DNR’s Nongame Wildlife Program. “If they are left standing, they don’t stand for very long with a 1,000 pound nest on it. Therefore, a company willing to leave the nest on their structure, or willing to provide a new place for the birds to nest, is to be commended.”

Erecting a new pole is beneficial for the birds, as well as power companies, Henderson said.

“Putting up a new structure eliminates the need to issue a new permit every year and will provide a more attractive nesting structure,” Henderson said. “It also provides a much safer platform for the birds to build their nest and raise a new family of young ospreys.”

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