Avian infidelity

Never before have I ever had a column written for me by a once-was country neighbour, a lifetime acquaintance, and longtime reader of my column.


Not so this week. I often have updates on the return of the osprey to their nesting platforms, but this one comes with a bird-watcher’s twist, bordering the quirk of avian voyeurism. Word for word, with minor adjustments, as seen by him and her, and sent to me, here it is:

“Hi, all. This (letter) is completely nonsense and unnecessary, but if you are interested in the living habits of these beautiful, huge birds and have some time to waste, then give it a go, or scrap it now.    

“Many of you have observed these birds since they started nesting on our cell phone tower (about 200 feet from our house) some five or six years ago. This nest was 140 feet up and proved to be very hazardous to workers who attempted to go up to service equipment when there were eggs or young ones in the nest.

“Osprey are slightly smaller than eagles but have the same bad sense of humour when their family is threatened, as the climbers found out. In the fall of 2012, the cell people decided to relocate the nest to a 70-foot pole some 150 feet away from the tower. As osprey are protected or endangered, they cannot destroy the nest without building a new nesting sight.

“Early last spring (March 2013) the bird-relocating people arrived with a beautiful pole from B.C. with a platform about four feet square with railings, on what would be the top end. There were six men, three trucks and enough equipment to erect an average size apartment building. With my help, we selected a spot to drill the hole for the birds’ pole and new home. I lined the hole up so it would make the new nest quite visible from our porch so we can sit with binoculars and keep a close eye on the birds from when they first arrive back in the spring until the young ones fly in September.

“The foreman told me that this move would cost close to $10,000. He said he had overseen the relocating of osprey nests in Newfoundland across the east all the way to Windsor and if done right, the birds would accept the new home. Two men climbed the tower and took large pieces of the nest and lowered it to the ground by means of pulleys, ropes and containers, and they placed and secured these pieces onto the new nesting platform before they erected the pole. They put something on the tower so the birds could not nest there again.

“The pair accepted their new location and proceeded to build the nest to their liking. Now this year – it has been a circus. The pair arrived about April 6 or 7 (a couple of weeks later than usual). They immediately started hauling sticks, etc. to make the nest to their liking. Next thing we see is breeding – and they don’t have the nest finished. Every day they would build a little and breed more. It seems like their morals have all been lost.

“As I understood it, they usually only breed once for each egg and they only lay two, and sometimes three eggs. My wife and I have come to the conclusion that they are starting to act like people and are doing it just for the fun? And it gets worse. A few days ago another pair showed up and tried to take over the nest. One heck of a fight took place, and we aren’t sure who ended up with the nest, but in the middle of it all, the new guy was ‘taking advantage’ of the other guy’s wife.

“Now when the eggs hatch the mother will not know who the father of the chick is. I don’t know if osprey do DNA, but if not, it’s possible that the male at our nest will be bringing fish to feed some other guy’s kid.

“We have considered sitting out by the pole with a pellet gun to try and sort out this whole family mess. Problem is, we are not sure who is who and maybe they have switched partners. The way this young lady is carrying on, there may be three in the nest? And here all the time you folks thought it was just people that got into these situations.”

It was signed, “Walter S.”

Take care, ‘cause we care.







Barrie Hopkins