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New Nesting Platforms Placed to Attract Ospreys Away From Cook Plant Emergency Sirens

by on March 22, 2017
Workers prepare to install a new osprey nesting platform.

(Story by Bill Schalk)

Cook Nuclear Plant, Berrien County Parks and the Berrien Birding Club are joining forces to install three pole-top osprey nesting platforms to deter the migratory birds from nesting on a Cook Emergency Siren. For the last several seasons, ospreys have used the siren on Madron Lake Road near Glendora Road as their spring and summer home.

The issue is that the Cook Nuclear Plant has a federal requirement to keep the sirens operational, and that includes monthly testing. Having these osprey nests on top of them could potentially interfere with siren maintenance or operation. However, the birds have a government mandate, too. The Federal Migratory Bird Act prohibits hunting, capturing or otherwise interfering with the birds’ migration or nesting. Therein lies the rub: protecting both birds and sirens without ruffling any federal feathers.

“Unfortunately, the Madron Lake siren is a perfect spot for an osprey nest – lots of wide open space and several nearby small lakes where the fish-eating raptors can obtain food for their young,” said Kip Miller, manager of Berrien County’s Love Creek Nature Center and Berrien Birding Club president. “Apparently the siren noise doesn’t bother them too much because they keep coming back.”

There are 50 sirens that cover a 10-mile radius around the plant. They are in place in order to notify the public in the event of an emergency at the plant or a weather-related event.

“Obviously, our commitment to the health and safety of the people living near the plant comes first, but we respect the rights of the birds as well,” said Bill Schalk, Cook Plant spokesman. “When they kept coming back, we decided to offer them some other quieter nesting options.”

Cook is paying for the poles and installation, the Berrien Birding Club chipped in for the wood to build the nesting platforms and Miller added his expertise in picking the new locations.

“We recognize this creates a potential problem for the Cook Plant and really appreciate the cooperative spirit of their staff in working to resolve the issue for all. And the fact they are installing two additional poles and platforms is an extra bonus,” Miller said.

Cook Environmental Technician Blair Zordell initiated the effort, built the nests and obtained the rights for the new locations and permitting.

“I ride my bike a lot on this road and I felt bad for the birds. Those sirens are loud – over 100 decibels at 100 feet away,” said Zordell. “The new locations should be just as good as the siren. We might even attract another pair of ospreys.”

The birds should be arriving very soon. There will be nesting deterrents on top of the Madron Lake Road siren to convince them to look elsewhere this year. The new platforms should offer an attractive alternative that will accommodate these feathered friends just fine.

From → News From AEP

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