On December 7, we dedicated the installation of the Osprey Nest Platform. We thank The Saratogian – Paul Post, for covering the event. Below is his report:
By Paul Post, The Saratogian
MOREAU, N.Y. >> It takes quite a bit to ruffle an osprey’s feathers.
They’re so unmoved by human activity that one pair even built a nest high atop the tall, whirling Condor ride at Great Escape a few years ago. That’s why they should feel quite at home at a new nesting platform Friends of Moreau Lake State Park dedicated on Thursday. The only question is, who will rule the roost because bald eagles, whose breeding season begins a bit earlier, might get there first.
“It really fulfills our mission, which is to provide learning opportunities for people who come to the park,” said Cherie Pierson, Friends project committee chair.The roughly nine-square-foot platform was built by Don Polunci and Mark Cronin, of the Southern Adirondack Audubon Society, and sits atop an 18-foot
treated lumber pole donated by Petteys Sawmill, in Wilton.“We couldn’t have done this without help from a lot of people,” said Mary Knutson, Friends president. The park is already home to at least one pair of ospreys, which until now have set up quarters in a tall pine tree. Fish debris scattered around the tree’s base indicate the birds have an ample food source. Eagles also frequent the park, especially in winter. But it’s unknown if there’s a breeding pair.
The Friends group has rolled out the welcome mat, by providing a home either species should feel quite comfortable in. In fact, it’s practically move-in ready. The base of the platform is fashioned from wire, donated by Cronin’s construction firm, interlaced with long strands of grape vine, which gives it a natural look.
“They’ll see a nest has started to be built there, so they’ll bring sticks in,” said Polunci, past Audubon Society president. The platform even includes a perch for the nest’s occupants to keep a lookout for fish, which comprise 99 percent of the osprey diet.
It’s located in a remote area, on a point of land that separates the main body of water from a cove on the lake’s east side.
“It’s making a nice invitation: ‘Please nest here,’” said Nancy Dwyer, Friends group vice president.
Park educator Rebecca Mullins said ospreys need a big platform to build a nest.“That’s why you see them on telephone poles,” she said. Two large nests are found each year atop telephone poles on Route 4, along the Hudson River, south of Fort Edward. Eagles generally prefer more natural settings, Polunci said.
However, in the nesting pecking order, great horned owls typically reign supreme among the area’s largest bird species. Their breeding season begins in February, and sometimes they’ll take over a nest eagles used the year before, Polunci said. Eagles start to breed in April, followed by ospreys in May. So the Friends group and park officials can’t wait to see who the platform’s first occupants are. “It’s a race to the nest,” Mullins said. The platform is dedicated to Emma Crockett and her family in memory of Ivan Crockett.
After a brief ceremony, nearly two dozen people on hand went to the park warming hut to celebrate with hot chocolate and goodies. Six new cabins were recently built at the park for year-round use. The structures are reached by a mile-long hike, which gives users a kind of back-country experience.
In winter, bald eagles from the Arctic migrate south and set up residence at Moreau Lake and the Hudson River portion of the park, in search of open water. The park hosts eagle-watching outings throughout the winter. The next one is scheduled for 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Dec. 16. For more information, call (518) 793-0511.