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Protected osprey found at CK school

For the osprey, nest building is serious business.

For the CK School District, it’s a waiting game.

A pair of the protected birds have recently built a nest on one of the stadium lights at CK Junior High rendering the lights useless.

The nest was spotted about a month ago by a district electrician. When maintenance supervisor Edwin Lopez contacted wildlife officials regarding the nest “They said congratulations you have just lost a light post,” he said.

Lopez said he disconnected electricity to the pole for fear the nest would catch on fire. Now they are waiting for the birds to have their babies and migrate south for the winter before school starts.

“Right now we’ll leave them alone and let nature take its course,” Lopez said.

The bird is protected under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Washington state law. They can build a nest where they want and it can’t be destroyed while the birds are nesting.

“They’re going to pick the best spot. They tend to go to the highest structure,” said Greg Schirato, district wildlife biologist for the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“They don’t build a nest to practice building a nest,” he said.

The nest building process also bonds the birds to the site, which means more than likely they’ll return to the light pole next spring. If the original pair of osprey die, their offspring usually inherit the nest.

The osprey population became threatened when the chemical DDT thinned their egg shells. The insecticide was ingested by the birds from the fish they eat. In the 1970s DDT was banned. Since then the osprey has made a comeback.

“Our osprey population has gone up,” said local bird expert Joan Carson of Poulsbo. She noted osprey nests near her home. Typically the birds build their nest in early June and fledglings stay in the nest through July, she said.

Carson suggests the school district build a platform and then after the ospreys migrate south, place the old nest on the platform.

Schirato said artificial nests are just as good as the real thing.

Lopez said he is looking at building a platform and finding a way to prevent this from happening again.

As for the current nest “One thing we don’t want to do is harm it in any way,” Lopez said.

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