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Apr 26, 2019 3:47 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Local Fire Departments Band Together To Replace Damaged Osprey Platform In Quogue

Community members banded together to replace an osprey platform in Quogue on Monday. COURTESY QUOGUE WILDLIFE REFUGE
Apr 29, 2019 12:50 PM

A pair of ospreys watched intently last week as several members of the Quogue and Westhampton Beach fire departments made quick work of installing a nesting platform on top of a free-standing pole in Quogue.

PSEG-Long Island workers installed the pole on Beach Lane, as well as a disc-shaped platform, last year after the bird’s nest, which sat on top of a nearby utility pole, caught fire, killing the migratory birds’ young.

Ospreys typically return to the same nests every year and nest around late April or early May, according to Aaron Virgin, the Southold-based Group for the East End’s vice president.

However, on Monday, April 15, when the Beach Lane residents returned with twigs and sticks to continue building their nest, they found their hard work strewn across the street below. The recently installed platform fell victim to harsh overnight winds, causing the perch to bend beyond repair, according to Quogue Wildlife Refuge Assistant Director Marisa Nelson.

Luckily, Steve Weiner, who lives adjacent to the utility pole, noticed the damage and immediately notified the refuge’s director, Michael Nelson.

“He is always looking out for the ospreys,” Ms. Nelson said of Mr. Weiner, who could not be reached for comment on Friday. “He loves them.”

Within a few hours, Mr. Nelson, who also serves as second-assistant chief at the Quogue Fire Department, built a square-shaped wooden platform, with a half-inch lip around the edge. And, with the help of his firefighting colleagues, as well as members of the neighboring Westhampton Beach Fire Department, the platform was installed and re-inhabited by the late afternoon.

The Beach Lane osprey nest was one of roughly 420 active nests on the East End last year—a 50 percent increase from recent years—according to Mr. Virgin. On Friday, he said he expects to see a continued increase in the birds’ population once the group starts monitoring the sites in June.

He added that PSEG has partnered with the Group for the East End and has installed more than 20 new nesting platforms from Montauk to Riverside—in part to keep the birds from nesting on the top of utility poles, which can result in fires.

“They’re picking up where they left off last year,” he said of the birds. “The fact that PSEG needs to put up all these platforms is a testament that there is no vacancy.”

PSEG Long Island has relocated nearly 25 existing osprey nests from electrical facilities on Long Island, in time for egg-laying season, including several on the East End, officials said in a release this week.

“We have identified more than 20 locations across Long Island in the last couple of months and have provided new platform homes or resolutions to keep the returning osprey safe,” John O’Connell, the vice president of transmission and distribution for PSEG Long Island was quoted as saying in the release. “Within days of completing the platforms, we were pleased to see the birds return and begin building new nests on them.”

The osprey population began to rebound in the early 1980s, after a ban on dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane, or DDT, a common chemical used in insecticides that resulted in a thinning of the birds’ eggshells.

“These are one species of birds that are truly affected by the use of DDT, so the fact that they’re making a comeback is pretty inspirational—that they can rebound if we clean up our pollutants,” Ms. Nelson said. “It’s great to see them thriving.”

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