PORTLAND — City workers removed a nest Tuesday that two ospreys were building at the end of Portland’s new megaberth for cruise ships.

City officials took action after a biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife said the nest could be removed if it contained no eggs, said Nicole Clegg, the city’s spokeswoman.

The birds were building their nest at the end of the 1,000-foot-long Ocean Gateway Pier II, atop an electronic capstan that dock workers use to wind a ship’s mooring lines to a nearby bollard.

The municipal workers dismantled the yard-wide nest around noon and threw more than a dozen bundles of branches and sticks into Portland Harbor.

“We have been instructed by MDIFW that if there are no eggs to remove the nest as soon as possible,” Clegg said in an email to The Portland Press Herald.

Clegg said city workers will put something on the surface of the capstan, “either a pitched cover or spires, to deter the birds from using that location for nesting in the future.”

The megaberth, completed in September, is a passenger walkway that isn’t open to the public. It is scheduled to serve its first cruise ship on Sept. 8, when the 2,250-passenger Enchantment is expected to dock in Portland.

Scott Lindsay, a state wildlife biologist, said he advised city officials “to remove the nesting material so long as eggs were not present.”

“Once eggs are present, there would be a greater level of protection under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act,” Lindsay said in an email to the newspaper. “I also advised them to install a deterrent to future nesting at this site, such as bird spikes or an owl decoy.”

On Friday, Lindsay told the newspaper that he thought it was a little late in the season for ospreys to be establishing a nest in the Casco Bay area. He corrected himself on Tuesday.

“Though I have observed many osprey nests under incubation several weeks ago, the middle of May is within the normal time for nest building,” Lindsay said. “I expect the birds will have adequate time to set up a nest at a more suitable site.”

Federal law prohibits disturbing any bird’s nest that contains eggs or chicks, Lindsay said.

Osprey nesting sites range from tree branches to cellphone towers and from remote islands to highly developed coastal neighborhoods.

There are thousands of ospreys in Maine, including about 1,000 nesting pairs, wildlife officials reported in 2011. Osprey populations in Penobscot Bay and farther Down East have dropped in recent years as bald eagle populations have grown, Lindsay said.

 

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at: kbouchard@pressherald.com