Displaced osprey gets a new home

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Displaced osprey gets a new home
This female osprey has a new home atop this nesting platform. - Joe Hendricks | Sun

ANNA MARIA – A displaced female osprey has a new nesting place thanks to the combined efforts of the Lake La Vista Homeowners Association and part-time resident Kay Johnson, Florida Power and Light, Volt Power and Anna Maria Public Works Manager Dean Jones.

On Thursday, Dec. 19, a crew from Volt Power attached a custom-fabricated aluminum nesting platform to a wooden utility pole and then set the pole in place on a vacant lakefront lot on Lakeview Drive owned by the homeowners association.

Jones was on hand Thursday morning when the pole and platform were set in place.

“There was a Norfolk pine that was cut down legally across the street. There was not an active nest, so by FWC rules they’re allowed to cut it down. That displaced the osprey and the osprey has been hanging around,” Jones explained.

“Kay Johnson called me and asked me if we could do anything about it. I called my contacts at FP&L and they were able to secure a pole for us. Volt is a subcontractor of FP&L and FP&L is paying for their time today. The city has no cost in this project,” Jones said.

Volt crewmember Cole Willis said he and his co-workers install about 10 to 12 nesting platforms a year.

“Ospreys are my wife’s favorite bird, so I have a soft spot for them too,” Jones said. “And this goes back to the city wanting to be stewards of the environment and keeping our natural habitats strong. We’re glad the city could be a part of this,” Jones said.

Later that morning, Jones reported activity already taking place at the new platform.

“We hadn’t had the nest up for more than an hour and a half and we already had a mating pair there. It’s really a highlight of the year for me seeing this situation turn out so good. It feels amazing,” he said.

On Friday, Jones said the female osprey was gathering materials and building a nest. He said he was pretty sure the female osprey occupying the new platform is the same osprey displaced by the tree removal.

“The females are normally 15 to 20 percent larger than the males, so that’s definitely a female sitting up there. From what I can tell from the ground, she has the same markings as the displaced bird. And the male that’s hanging around appears to have the same markings as her mate,” Jones said.

When contacted at her other home in New York, Johnson said she and her husband, Gary, arrived at their Anna Maria home on Nov. 18 for a three-week stay. The following day they heard a loud noise that turned out to be the grinding of a tree stump.

“My heart sank. I looked up and the massive twin-trunk Norfolk pine was gone,” Johnson said via email.

The couple had watched the osprey pair nest and raise their young in that tree for at least six years.

“I heard her chirping and knew she was still around,” Johnson said.

She arranged for a pole to be installed on the homeowners association property and the association agreed to pay for the platform made by All Steel Fabricating.

“It all came together after we left for our home in Jamestown, New York,” Johnson said. “I am so appreciative of all the support I received in providing our osprey with a nest platform. I felt she would accept it quickly, but I had no idea how quickly. I told Dean our neighborhood is whole again. I can’t wait to return in January.”