By Jenna O’Donnell
Spring is in the air, which means many migratory birds will soon return to various waterside perches to mate and raise chicks – a perilous task when some nests are built on electrical equipment.
One such osprey nest atop a Monmouth Beach utility pole was recently moved to a safer nearby platform thanks to the combined efforts of Jersey Central Power and Light (JCP&L) and a local Boy Scout troop.
Michael Hornung, 17, a member of Troop 58 of Oceanport, said he learned about the Griffin Street osprey nest from his father, who works as a lineman.
“I saw the nest on the (utility) platform, which was a very dangerous place for it to be,” Hornung said. “We decided that, since we’re Boy Scouts, we should work to help protect nature because that’s the fun of scouting.”
Hornung took the task on as part of his Eagle Scout project and worked with fellow Scouts to build a wooden platform to house the osprey nest. JCP&L, which has committed to relocating several osprey nests built on utility poles in Monmouth and Ocean Counties, supplied a pole to support the platform and nest. On Feb. 25, Troop 58 helped JCP&L workers successfully move the nest to its specially constructed perch.
“Scouting is mainly about helping nature and protecting the community,” Hornung said, noting that moving the osprey nest to a safer spot while also reducing the risk of power outages to Monmouth Beach residents made it a good project for aspiring Eagle Scouts.
With the pending return of the migratory birds, JCP&L spokesman Ron Morano said the utility company is working to get all the nests previously identified for relocation moved this month and is working closely with the Department of Environment Protection and conservation groups to make sure they comply with regulations.
“The nest moving is well under way,” Morano said, noting the program would be complete before the ospreys returned.
Ospreys, distinctive raptors with a speckled brown and white plumage, return to the same nests, year after year. They seek high roosts, like utility poles and streetlights, and often nest within sight of the coastal water ways where they dine primarily on fish. Nesting in coastal communities like Monmouth Beach, ospreys use available materials like grass, sticks, seaweed and often trash to build large nests that can weigh as much as 200 pounds. The birds’ inclination to build heavy stick nests on dangerous electrical equipment and other utility structures presents unique challenges for coastal towns and conservationists alike.
With replacement platforms safely housing the nests in plain view of former posts, returning ospreys should find their new perches without a hitch, thanks to the work and initiative of JCP&L and Troop 58.
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