Earth Notes: Osprey Nest Platform

Apr 19, 2017

Around Earth Day, Flagstaff residents visiting Frances Short Pond near downtown have a good chance of seeing an osprey, or maybe two, perched on a nest platform. 

Installing a nest platform
Credit Rose Houk

Three years ago osprey were using a dead pine snag at the nearby city park, but the snag was removed. Soon after, a pair began building a nest atop one of the light poles at the park’s softball field.

Hoping to persuade them to move to a safer spot, Arizona Game and Fish Department biologist Lee Luedeker, with support from the city parks department, built a wooden nesting platform high in a pondside ponderosa, with sticks in place to give a hint to the birds.

The osprey didn't complete the nest on the light pole, and haven't nested on the platform yet either.  But Luedeker remains hopeful someday they will. Osprey can live up to twenty years, and may use the same nest many years in a row.

These fish-eating birds of prey swoop out over the small pond; once they spot a fish, they hover briefly, then dive, talons first, to snatch it. But human anglers don't need to worry about competition because there’s more than enough stocked fish to go around.  

One day, visitors to Frances Short Pond may have the thrill of watching a whole a family dive for fish.