Two ospreys circle a utility pole off Route 1 in Bath that used to be home to a nest, which Central Maine Power removed and replaced with yellow spikes. Kristian Moravec/The Times Record

Bird watchers were outraged after Central Maine Power removed a long-established osprey nest from atop a utility pole off Route 1 in Bath this spring, putting spikes in its place to prevent future nesting. The utility is promising to install a nesting platform for the raptors to set up a new home.

CMP officials said the nest was removed to protect the birds and prevent outages along the key line that connects more than 5,000 customers to power. The utility added that it is working with local authorities to install the new platform, which will be placed 50 feet from the original nesting site on the southbound side of Route 1. That platform is expected to go up on or before April 19.

Joanne Adams, a Bath resident and longtime osprey photographer, frequently watches what she refers to as the Leeman Highway nest.

“I know CMP says that nest is a danger, but it’s been there for years,” Adams said. “There’s been no problem with [the nest] as far as power outages.”

Adams said she last saw the nest on April 1 around 6:30 p.m. It was gone the following morning. The ospreys, which are a protected species, returned from winter migration that same day, Adams said, only to find large yellow spikes where their nest used to be.

Concerned about the impact the removal might have on the birds’ mating season, Adams started to organize in her community. She created a Facebook page, “Leeman Highway Osprey Advocates of Bath Maine and Beyond,” which has already collected 1,000 followers.


On April 9, she announced on the Facebook page that she wrote to CMP questioning the nest removal.

She received a reply Friday afternoon stating that CMP workers removed the nest during the winter due to the risk it posed to both the birds and power line. CMP later clarified with The Times Record that the nest was removed between the March and April winter storms.

For ospreys, a large raptor known for building large nests atop dead trees, utility poles seem like an ideal place to build their seasonal homes, according to Maine Audubon staff naturalist Doug Hitchcox.

According to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, permits are required to remove osprey nests between April 1 and Sept. 1 if eggs, young ospreys or mating pairs are present. CMP said it did not require a permit for this removal.

Mark Latti, a spokesperson for MDIFW, said the department worked with CMP to remove the nest on Route 1.

“We need to balance the needs of wildlife with the needs of people,” Latti said, adding that power poles are not good homes for ospreys. “Adult osprey may be able to avoid wires; fledgling osprey aren’t as coordinated.”


Oliver the osprey on April 8. Photo courtesy of Kerry E. Nelson

Kerry E. Nelson, a West Bath resident, started photographing birds 15 years ago and has noticed a few nest removals in the area. One osprey Nelson watches – nicknamed Oliver – had his nest torn down on New Meadows Road a few years ago before his return from migration.

Nelson said that when Oliver came back, he and his mate attempted to rebuild in the same spot, but ultimately had to move across the road and build there instead.

“It’s upsetting to local folks,” Nelson said. “I understand (CMP is) a business, but they are purposely coming and taking nests down right in the mating season.”

CMP tracks an estimated 100 osprey nests across the state and installs platforms built by local schools or organizations on a case-by-case basis, according to CMP spokesperson Jonathan Breed.  The newest Bath platform was built at Somerset Career and Technical Center.

“We work very proactively to resolve the issue, because the worst outcome is (that) something happens to the bird or an outage, and I don’t think anybody wants that,” Breed said. “So I credit our team for identifying an issue and taking some quick action and working with the right state authorities to get this issue resolved quickly and in a way that’s best for the animal.”

The osprey admirers are worried the platform will come too late.

Typically, Adams said, when a nest is removed, ospreys rebuild quickly – in as soon as three days, by her observation. But the Leeman Highway ospreys keep working to rebuild in the same place, with little food for fuel as they gather materials, according to Adams. She worries this mating season will be disrupted for the pair.

“We would like (CMP) to take the barriers down,” Adams said. “Let them build, and take the nest down in the fall.”

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