Local wildlife photographer and osprey enthusiast Kevin Friel has joined with active community member Barbara Schneider on The Osprey Project. The project aims to provide safe nesting sites for the many ospreys that live on potentially dangerous utility poles throughout Falmouth.
The project is trying to raise funds, approximately $2,000 per site, to build and install new nesting platforms. As of November 22, 93 donors have given over $13,000, including one full pole and two half-pole sponsors.
By erecting new poles, platforms and effective deterrents, Mr. Friel and Ms. Schneider hope to discourage osprey from nesting in hazardous areas. The pair, with help from the conservation commission, has put together a four-pronged approach to mitigate injury or death to these well-loved birds.
To begin the process a conservationist and an osprey expert toured the town and identified 21 problem nests. Safe alternative locations close to old nesting sites were scouted for 19 of the new nests. Utility poles that require deterrents were also located to keep new nests from being hastily built, including adjacent poles as osprey may find them nestworthy.
The nonprofit Falmouth Together We Can is overseeing the funds that will go toward materials and labor costs. There are plans to work with volunteers, including the Boy Scouts, to construct and install poles and platforms.
Mr. Friel and Ms. Schneider went before the select board on November 8 to garner its support for the project. During the meeting, Mr. Friel said he began working with the conservation commission four months ago to seek alternative locations for the nests initiating the osprey project.
During the 2021 breeding season, nine fires and power outages were directly linked to ospreys building their nests on utility poles, Mr. Friel said. Outages and fires can be expensive for the town, fire department, police department, and others, he said.
“Our goal is to raise enough money and to get enough manpower, women power, to have in place by St. Patrick’s Day these alternative sites and hopefully deterrents on these poles,” Ms. Schneider said.
This past spring Eversource, to mitigate power outages and fires, removed a large number of nests from utility poles in town. However, Mr. Friel has witnessed, through his osprey photography project, each removed nest being hastily rebuilt by returning osprey. The project is also seeking the help of Eversource to place deterrents on utility poles, Mr. Friel said.
Those interested in making a donation can visit www.falmouthtogetherwecan.org/donate or checks may be sent to Falmouth Together We Can, PO Box 303, Falmouth 02541.