1049 members save a family of Osprey

This story originally appeared in Newsday.

Sure a few branches fell, but that’s to be expected when your twiggy home is being moved more than 30 feet above the ground.

In a five-hour operation on Monday, PSEG Long Island turned into a relocation company for a nest that two ospreys built at a dangerous location in Port Washington — atop an electric pole in front of North Hempstead Town’s garbage and recycling facility — to a safer place within the community, company spokeswoman Kristina Pappas said.

“If they hit something wrong, the ospreys can injure themselves,” Pappas said. “If there are any downed wires, that’s dangerous and unwelcome for all the neighbors.”

Ospreys tend to build their nests by the water, and this one was on West Shore Road, just feet from Hempstead Bay. North Hempstead Town notified PSEG Long Island about the wild birds earlier this month, just before breeding season went into full gear, Pappas said.

When three PSEG trucks and a crew of at least five arrived shortly after 8:30 a.m., the osprey pair flew away, dove in the water for food but didn’t leave the area, said Pappas, who was at the scene.

The pair “kept an eye on what was going on with their nest,” she said.

The crew dug a hole about 20 feet away to plant a taller, 40-foot wooden pole with a wide, fiberglass platform on top.

Once they determined that no eggs were in the nest, they started the delicate work after the electric lines were de-energized.

A worker perched atop a bucket truck placed plywood under the nest. Then with the worker carrying the bundle, crews inched the bucket toward the new pole.

“We were all holding our breath,” Pappas said. “You could tell he was doing it very slowly, extra cautiously. We had gone through a day’s work to get this all set up.”

Just before 2 p.m., the ospreys had a new home.

After the 1970s ban on the use of the insecticide DDT, the species has made a comeback, going from endangered to “special concern,” with 230 breeding pairs on the Island by 1995, the state said.

Pappas said the utility moves a couple or so osprey homes each year, and the Port Washington pair flew over their nest once the trucks backed off.

“I think they were gauging what had happened to their home,” she said.

By late Monday night, Pappas reported, the osprey pair were back home.