Emma osprey nest sparks concern | AspenTimes.com

Emma osprey nest sparks concern

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Janet Urquhart Aspen Times file

EMMA – A pair of ospreys that began building a nest this year on a power pole at Emma will find it in a new spot if they return again next year.

The nest is currently sitting atop a pole that holds live electrical lines; Holy Cross Energy wants to move the birds out of danger, said Gary Tennenbaum, land steward for Pitkin County Open Space and Trails. He met with Holy Cross representatives on Wednesday.

This fall, after the birds have departed, the energy cooperative will relocate the nest to a nearby pole where they won’t be in danger of electrocution, Tennenbaum said. Not all of the wires at the present nest site are live, but if a bird should touch two live wires at the same time, it would be zapped.

“I was hoping they would offer this kind of solution,” he said. “They like the birds, too.”

The present nest site doesn’t only pose a threat to the birds. Electrocuted birds can start fires in dry vegetation when they fall to the ground, and there’s the potential for service interruption, as well, Tennenbaum said.

The nest appeared in the spring, and the birds can sometimes be seen in it, though they are often perched above the nearby Roaring Fork River.

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The nest is on a pole next to the Rio Grande Trail and near county open space property that includes the historic Emma store buildings, just downvalley from Basalt.

It appears the birds are not raising any young this year, said wildlife biologist/consultant Jonathan Lowsky of Basalt-based Colorado Wildlife Science LLC.

It’s not unusual for a young pair to build a nest but produce no offspring in their first year. They typically return to a nest site, or at least the same area, year after year, he said.

There is also a pair of nesting ospreys near Rock Bottom Ranch below Basalt and along the lower Roaring Fork, between Carbondale and Glenwood Springs. Both of those pairs have produced fledglings this year, Lowsky said.

He said he has heard numerous reports of another pair of ospreys at Ruedi Reservoir and has been told there may be another pair near Redstone.

Ospreys often return to the area where they were reared, so the local population may continue to grow.

“We’re going to see more and more,” Lowsky said.

The large brown-and-white raptors are known for their spectacular dives to snare fish. They feed exclusively on fish and nest near lakes and rivers.

janet@aspentimes.com