BENTON – When James Simonson saw an osprey nest being displaced Wednesday as workers removed a transmission pole next to the Sebasticook River, it irritated him.

“Pieces (of the nest) were falling everywhere. The birds were flying around,” Simonson said.

Central Maine Power Co. spokesman John Carroll said the nest had no eggs or chicks, so it wasn’t considered active. He said a nest that houses an adult can legally be removed to a nearby tree or pole.

“It’s nice that people care about the birds,” Carroll said. “We like them, too, just not on top of poles.”

The transmission pole in Benton was removed as part of CMP’s $1.55 billion project to modernize substations and transmission lines from Eliot to Orrington, Carroll said.

Osprey nests on top of transmission poles can present problems, including causing power outages when sticks get knocked loose, Carroll said. CMP has a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove as many as 20 osprey nests from poles annually.

A third-party inspector has been asked to examine the grounded nest, which is about 3 feet in diameter, Carroll said. He said he understood that the adult birds in Benton had moved to a nest across the river, but Simonson and Sheridan Bailey said they recently and regularly saw two ospreys in the nest.

If a nest does have viable eggs, Carroll said, Avian Haven Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center in Freedom is contacted and the eggs are taken to a nursery.

“If an active nest is disturbed, there is a concern that the (adult) birds will not come back,” Carroll said.

Ospreys, large fish-eating hawks, nest near water and dive feet-first to catch live fish with their talons, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website says.

Maine Inland Fisheries & Wildlife biologist Charlie Todd said last spring that there were thousands of osprey in the state, including about 1,000 nesting pairs. He said about 10 percent of them perch on utility poles.

Todd said it’s not difficult for ospreys to build new nests.

“Ospreys are pretty versatile and build very precarious nests because they always go to the top of a tree, channel marker, chimney, power pole,” Todd said. “The ospreys are accustomed to rebuilding nests.”

Morning Sentinel Staff Writer Beth Staples can be contacted at 861-9252 or at:

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