Dang it. If there is one thing I really hate, it is having a perfectly good rant ruined by facts. That is so profoundly annoying.

I pass through Bath just about every day. For years and years I have loved watching the osprey that nest atop the power pole. Then, earlier this spring – the nest was gone!  Like many of you, I was outraged. Out. Raged.

A few days later, I saw the “nest platform” go up. I scoffed. So did the birds. I watched them perch, give it a test ride and then abandon it. And I applauded them.

Midcoast resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at heather@heatherdmartin.com.

Then came the ultimate flex. The osprey built a new nest right where the old one had been, wedged between the upright prongy-things (I believe that is the correct technical term) meant to discourage nesting. I cheered.

Then, to my horror and renewed outrage – that nest was removed, too!

Well. Enough was enough. I called the warden’s office. Answering my call was Keel Kemper, a very kind, very funny and very patient wildlife biologist who has clearly been fielding questions from people like me – a lot of questions from a lot of people like me.


This is where those pesky facts come into play. Grrr. Annoying.

First, let’s just get this out of the way: CMP was operating within their legal rights. So long as there is no actual egg within the nest, the power company has that authority to remove the nest. This was the first annoying thing I learned.

Second annoyance: The platform appears to have been a genuine attempt by CMP to create an osprey-friendly solution. Kemper explained that given all the factors at play, it seemed worth a shot, even though no one really knows why some birds use them and others, most in fact, don’t. Still, these platforms are not cheap. I cannot ignore that it represents a real investment. Annoying. It was so much more satisfying to be righteously outraged at a corporation.

The third major thing I learned: there are real reasons, osprey-centered reasons, to move the nest. As Kemper somberly explained to me, there are already six dead osprey – all from electrocution – his office is aware of. I suppose it is not surprising that flapping wings and high voltage wires are a bad combination.

So, where does this leave us?

Osprey are important, not to mention beautiful. We all want them to thrive and be happy, to build solid, stable nests for their offspring and to have their nests go undisturbed. None of us, I am sure, want them to be in any danger of electrocution.


So something has to shift.

In an ideal world, it would be the wires. I am all about burying lines, it just makes sense for so many reasons. But realizing that is not likely to happen anytime in the immediate future, the immediate solution will have to be something else. I don’t know what that is. Yet.

What I do know is that the assumptions I had at the start have been challenged and set aside. If I continue on the streak of curiosity, and keep asking questions of the people who are actively working to find or create those real solutions I might learn how to best support them and help bring them into being.

I have a call in to Maine Audubon and I’ll let you know what they say.  I am also reaching out to Cornell Labs and some osprey conservation sites in other states to see what they do.

If you start asking the same questions and sharing the knowledge, maybe we can sort this all out before the next nesting season rolls around. Until then, I’ll be looking for the osprey out on my walks, and I hope I see happy nesting pairs a plenty. See you on the trails.

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