A pair of ospreys known to nest at Chambers Creek Regional Park finally has taken Pierce County up on its generosity.
The birds, after previously turning up their beaks at the gesture, have nested this spring on a pole and platform erected for them last year at taxpayer expense.
“Great news,” said Michelle Tirhi, district wildlife biologist for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
For several years, the raptors nested on a set of pilings along the park shoreline, but the creosote-soaked poles were removed during a $2.4 million environmental cleanup project last year.
About $25,000 of that money, which came from a state grant, was earmarked for relocating the ospreys and a colony of purple martins that had taken up residence on some old docks, said Brian Ziegler, the county’s director of Public Works and Utilities.
For the ospreys, the county last spring erected a pole, platform and perch at the southern end of the park, not far from the wastewater treatment plant. Officials hoped the breeding pair would move right in.
Instead, the ospreys nested on an old concrete structure near the Central Meadow area of the park. County officials had health and safety concerns for both birds and people at that location, especially with thousands of spectators thronging to Chambers Bay golf course June 15-21 for the U.S. Open golf championship.
The ospreys’ move this spring has alleviated those concerns.
“No worry now for bird-nest sticks falling on spectators, or loud cries from hungry baby birds demanding to be fed, or bird droppings near center stage for this premier golfing event at Chambers Bay golf course,” said Jim Kaiser, a raptor biologist for Osprey Solution LLC, which was hired by the county to try to persuade the birds to relocate.
What prompted the birds to opt for the new digs was unclear, although their old nest on the concrete structure blew down during winter storms. There’s also been a lot of noise and human activity in the area because of U.S. Open preparations.
Whatever the reason, county officials are thrilled that the ospreys, which attract birdwatchers from around the area, decided to make the move.
“I’m glad we built that structure,” County Executive Pat McCarthy said Monday. “The bottom line is it is a good thing.”