Osprey nest relocation has Calgary birdwatchers concerned about hawk’s survival

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WATCH: A pair of ospreys spotted by tens of thousands of drivers each day has been getting a lot of attention. For years they've built their nest on top of a Calgary road sign pole but it's been moved and advocates for the birds are outraged. Jill Croteau reports. – May 10, 2021

Impressive raptors have been circling by the Bow River off of Calgary’s Stoney Trail for years.

Osprey are considered a sensitive species. It’s why they’ve been getting a whole lot of attention from photographers and wildlife advocates.

But it’s not the picture-perfect situation of how this type of hawk was forced to move.

Construction on the Stoney Trail bridge meant their nest had to go. It was perched on top of a pole of the highway sign.

Osprey on the road sign. Tom Reynolds/Global News

Kat McKay said she was horrified they were dismantling the nest.

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“They were destroying the nest, throwing branches on the road. I felt devastated. The birds were circling above because they knew their nest was being destroyed,” McKay said.

In place of the osprey nest, a cone was installed in an attempt to deter them. But the familiarity has them coming back.

Osprey sitting on a cone on top of the pole where the nest used to be. Tom Reynolds/Global News

Photographer Cindy Sigalet has been watching.

“They would take turns getting a branch and try by the cone. They haven’t given up on the other one,” Sigalet said. “It should have been moved sooner.”

Alberta Environment and Parks spokesperson John Muir said the contractor of the road project applied for a permit to request relocation of the osprey nest.

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“Under the Alberta Wildlife Act, a permit is required to relocate birds of prey nests like osprey nests if it’s determined the nest is active (eggs or young birds are present),” Muir said.

“In the case of the South Bow Construction Project, the osprey nest was determined not active, and therefore, AEP advised that a permit was not required. In consultation with a professional biologist and the project consultant, nest sticks were removed.”

The ministry suggested a temporary osprey platform be constructed nearby. John McFaul with Nature Calgary said neither the timing nor structure are ideal.

John McFaul. Jill Croteau/Global News

“It would have been nice if they set up the alternative nesting site earlier so they would locate to it quicker,” McFaul said.

“The structure is a typical platform but it is close to pathway, and osprey are sensitive to human disturbance. I wonder if it is far enough away to give them comfort and security.”

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Global News tried repeatedly to reach the contractor, PCL Construction, but our calls weren’t returned.

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