You might recall my previous postings about the Osprey pair that built a magnificent nest near Estral Beach last year. The couple led a successful domestic life for the season and then headed to South America for the winter. This is the way of Osprey life.
There is no locking up of the “old place” when leaving and no certainty that it will still be standing upon their return. In fact, there is no certainty that it will be their place upon their return – even if it remains intact. Great horned Owls are infamous for taking over large nests since they do not build their own structures. They start their nesting in mid-winter and therefore gain squatting rights over what are essentially abandoned nests. There are frequent accounts of these great Owls horning in on existing Osprey nests. This occupation is not contested by the returning Ospreys who immediately seek alternate nest sites. This is also part of Osprey life.
This season our dedicated Estral Beach Ospreys were unceremoniously booted from their original nest by honkers as opposed to hooters. As unlikely as it may seem, a pair of Canada Geese have claimed the lofty pad and they are now “in a family way.” I suppose it is naturally legal for geese to do what owls do, but there must be some sort of code violation involved. The sight of a lone female goose sitting atop a giant tree nest is certainly an odd fit. She can be seen peering nervously over the edge at anyone who pauses beneath the nest. I would say hers is the look is of “guilt” but everyone knows that geese do not have any such emotion (they could not live with themselves if they did)
This is not a unique situation. There are plenty of examples where geese have taken over Osprey nests. This is the first time I’ve ever seen such a thing, however, and thus the reason why I am bringing it to your attention.
At issue in this case was the fate of the now homeless ospreys. The dauntless pair returned to find a fertilizer dispenser in possession of their nest and did what they are hard-wired to do – they immediately sought another location. Never mind that they are physically capable of tearing the goose apart and tossing the bloody shreds to the wind. That is not the Osprey way.
Unfortunately, the birds innocently started to build their new nest atop a transformer on a nearby pole and this created a potential problem with the DTE energy people. The goose was looking even guiltier as it appeared that the ospreys would have to be evicted yet again. People finally stepped into the picture but the final answer did not involve a shotgun (unfortunately, I might add).
One of the humans involved was USFWS Biologist Greg Norwood (the nest site is adjacent to a unit of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge). Greg filled me in on what happened next. “The whole thing started on the Monday the 16th” he said “when the Ospreys built their new nest on the transformers.” He, along with the folks from DTE, “had to drop everything” and come up with a solution. What these folks did was simply amazing.
DTE’s Jason Cousineau came up with a ready-made Osprey nest platform and the power company’s crew stuck a Yellow Pine telephone pole into the ground on the refuge land adjacent to the goosified nest. The platform was secured into place and the whole thing was ready to go by Friday the 20th. The Ospreys took to this structure as if it was made just for them (which it was, but that is beside the point). By the time I drove up to the scene the birds were diligently working on their new nest and looked very much at home. One can only hope the rest of the season goes smoothly for them.
As for the goose, who watched the whole affair from “her” nest, I can only hope that she remains ignorant of guilty feelings (such a thing would tear up a nobler beast). I would like to be there when her fat little goslings have to leap from the nest and plunge 50 feet to the ground. Wood Duck ducklings do this all the time, but geese are not Wood Ducklings. We will see if goslings bounce.