For the birds — Islanders come together to welcome back the ospreys
With the ospreys, the great fish hawks, making their way back from winter quarters for their spring and summer residency on Shelter Island, a group of Islanders came together to provide a place for one family.
Animal Control Officer Jenny Zahler was contacted several months ago by George Hoffman Sr. to let her know that a wooden osprey platform — where the birds build their nests — on Lari Lane had been destroyed in a fierce winter storm.
Officer Zahler had spoken earlier with Christopher Conrardy at Shelter Island School, who wears several hats, including technology teacher, driver’s education teacher, and also the school’s shop teacher. Officer Zahler asked if his students would be interested in building a platform to put on the pole at Lari Lane.
No sooner said than done, with students Daniel Hernandez, Michael Kotula, Harry Clark, Sebastian Martinez Majdis, Nelvin Pena Murillo, and Byron Rodas Vasquez putting together a brand new nesting spot on Lari Lane, even welding a perch for the osprey to the platform, with all materials paid for by Mr. Hoffman.
This, Mr. Conrardy said, is just one of six platforms his team has built. “We’re giving them to people as needed,” he added.
Officer Zahler then asked Dan Clark, owner of DC Tree Services, if he would place the platform on the Lari Lane pole. Again, a done deal on the morning of March 17, with all work performed gratis.
A once-endangered species, now-thriving osprey population numbers are part of an environmental success story. By utilizing platforms that attract the birds to nest, it keeps many of them away from utility poles as places to call home.
Those nests on utility poles have become common, and are dangerous, with ospreys’ frequent contact with water on electrified lines sparking fires or leading to electrocution.
Shelter Island is doing its part, due to neighbors coming together without hesitation to help keep the birds returning here, and lifting the spirits of all who see them soaring overhead.