Osprey nests normally are 4 to 5 feet across and 3½ feet deep. Locations include cell phone towers, trees and the tops of old telephone poles, transmission towers. Their diet consists mostly of fish, Smith said. On the average, females lay three to five eggs and usually end up raising two young. Adult ospreys are approximately 24-inches in length and have wing spans between five and six feet. They are the only bird of prey that feeds exclusively on fish.
Ospreys vigorously defend their nest sites from intruders. This is most likely because nests are used by the same pair for many years, and represent a significant investment of time and energy by that pair. Cell tower workers have to keep an eye out for swooping irate ospreys that view them as predators that can climb to their nest in its normally safe elevated environment. In addition, they must use caution when working on sites that do not have any ongoing osprey activity due to the hawks’ droppings. Accumulated bird excrement provides an excellent growth medium for organisms of potential human health concern.
Ospreys are still listed as threatened, endangered or a species of special concern in several U.S. states. Ospreys are also protected under the U.S. Migratory Bird Act.
Due to its large amount of water bodies, Florida has one of the largest osprey populations in America. Their nests can oftentimes render a cell site inoperable when they are built over transmission lines and other equipment that needs to be serviced.
If the nest is inactive and contains no eggs or flightless young, a permit can be obtained to remove the nest, but a replacement nesting platform requires that the tower owner must provide a replacement nesting platform/structure of comparable or better quality.
Due to the conditions described above the elimination of Osprey nests on cell towers is of vital importance to cell phone tower owners and operators. The mobile industry spends millions of dollars annually repairing cell tower facilities due to birds that nest and flock to cell towers.
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