Rebuilt osprey nest removed from Hwy. 41 site by SCE&G crew

One of a pair of osprey trying to build a nest at the Highway 41 bridge construction site lands on top of a nearby crane in March.

WANDO — An SCE&G crew on Friday tore down a precarious osprey nest that had straddled a live power line as an osprey pair wages a desperate attempt to stay put despite efforts to remove them.

The pair were trying to construct the nest around a traffic cone that had been placed on top of a utility pole to discourage them after SCE&G removed their original platform nest several weeks ago. A nearby resident, who pleaded with the SCE&G utility to replace the platform nest, watched in horror.

“She’s determined to build and she’s just going to keep trying,” said resident Julie Foley Reagor. “Somebody has to get on these guys to get them to build another nest.” The platform still sits on the ground below the pole, she said.

The crew checked the nest for eggs and found none before removing the nest, said SCE&G spokeswoman Kim Asbill. “We do not have plans to build another nesting platform at this time.”

An SCE&G crew and Jim Elliott of the Center for Birds of Prey in Awendaw had been out earlier Friday trying to figure what, if anything, could be done. The utility was worried about a power outage if the nest dropped. Elliott is worried about the fate of the potential eggs of the protected raptor species.

The nest on the wire was unsteady and potentially dangerous, Elliott said. He located a possible relocation site across the road for the nesting platform. But with the pair trying to build a nest for two weeks now, time to do that is getting very short.

In South Carolina, osprey build nests from late March to mid-April, and eggs are laid in April, according to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources website. And even if there is time, no one can say whether the birds will move.

“They are one of the most instinctively driven (to a specific nest site) among any bird we know. That’s what they do. It’s just really unfortunate the timing is what it is,” Elliott said.

The birds had a good bit of the nest built and were at it every day, Reagor said. If no new platform is raised quickly, she plans to ask her community association to put one up in the community common area.

The pole where the nest is being built is adjacent to a pole where SCE&G earlier built the nesting platform for osprey. It had been used for several years, likely by the same pair. The platform was removed in late March as part of clearing for the Wando bridge rebuilding, after a crew determined there were no eggs in the nest on it.

Traffic cones normally are placed on poles where work is planned to discourage the raptors from nesting. But the nesting instinct is so strong there are instances where the pair continued to try to build, only to lose the nest, Elliott said earlier.

“It’s inevitable these birds are going to accept that and try to build at another site,” he said.

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