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After leaving their nest for the last time a few weeks ago, the metro area's most popular ospreys just might have a new home in the neighborhood when they come back in March.
Talks are underway among three agencies to explore a new structure for a nest in Edina that has been home to ospreys since 2006. The nest is easily visible atop a tall light pole at the junction of Crosstown Hwy. 62 and Hwy. 169. It is set to come down this fall when the pole is replaced.
The state's departments of transportation and natural resources are talking with Three Rivers Parks "about replacing or putting up a suitable nesting structure,'' Jason Alcott, a MnDOT natural resource specialist, said Tuesday. Issues include location, ability to attract the birds, and cost. No timetable for a decision has been set.
The ospreys and their nest have been fixtures in the area since 2006, attracting many fans among nearby Edina neighbors and the 100,000 motorists who traverse the area daily. "It just makes sense to look at this,'' Alcott said.
One possible location for a new pole is on a hill on the southwest corner of the interchange, said Judy Voigt Englund, Three Rivers Parks naturalist. A replacement pole could cost as much as $3,000.
There's no guarantee the same pair of birds will return to the same area, but the odds are helped because they're typically among the earliest ospreys to migrate from South America, Englund said. A new structure would need to be built before the ground freezes in order to be ready for their expected mid-March return, she said.
MnDOT says no. Its concrete base has weakened, making the pole unsafe. Now that the birds have left, it will be replaced this fall with one similar to nearby cobra-shaped lights that were installed last spring. They offer more direct ground lighting but lack the height or platform to attract a nest.
The success of a program to restore ospreys in the metro area has negated the need to replace every nest that is destroyed, Englund said. When Three Rivers launched the effort in 1984, it sought to establish 15 nests in the metro area. This year there were 67 nests, she said.
If the interagency talks don't yield a nesting structure, Vanessa Greene, a former Three Rivers seasonal employee and self-described 17-year osprey devotee, has said she'll seek a permit and location for a new pole with a nest platform, and raise money to pay for it.
"I know many people in Edina love those birds and it is the most well-known osprey nest in the metro area,'' said Greene, of the Metro Osprey Project. "Ospreys are my passion and I will do whatever I can to help them.''
Paul Klauda • 612-673-7280