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Empty nest found on cell tower, faux bird OK’d

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission representatives on a flyover of the Holmes Beach cell tower the past week determined the nest to be empty, with no evidence of fledgling birds or eggs. Islander Photo: Courtesy FWC

There’s another home in Holmes Beach that can be called an “empty nest.”

An investigation into the Holmes Beach cell tower by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission found no evidence of fledglings, eggs or any birds inhabiting an osprey nest.

FWC spokesperson Gary Morse and pilot/officer Mike Wood flew over the tower July 16 and took photographs. Nothing they observed or saw later in the photos suggests ospreys or other birds occupy the nest, although some birds, including osprey, may perch on the tower near the nest for a few moments before flying away.

The investigation came after two workers for Crown Castle Inc., the maintenance company for the tower, hung a fake bird high on the tower to keep other birds away.

Several residents who live near the tower, including Tondra Lapossa of 59th Street in Holmes Beach, thought the workers might have been interfering with an occupied nest.

Lapossa said in the past she’s heard fledglings becoming especially vocal around 2-3 a.m. and she’s also heard workers on the tower at those hours. She said she hasn’t heard any workers for several months.

Bird enthusiast John van Zandt observed the two Crown Castle workers installing the fake bird on the tower, and was concerned there might be a family of ospreys in the nest.

But Morse and FWC law enforcement officer Terry Noll found nothing out of the ordinary in their investigation of the incident, including the company’s permits for the tower.

If an active nest is discovered, Crown Castle’s permit allows the company to remove the nest to a suitable nesting platform, said Morse.

He clarified his statement in the July 18 Islander that if the nest was active and the company had no permit for the work performed, it might have violated FWC regulations. But Crown Castle has the required permits and the FWC investigation found no evidence of wrongdoing.

Morse said osprey nesting is not common at this time of year, and the noise heard by neighbors might have been normal vocalizations from ospreys and other birds perching on the tower.

The Holmes Beach Police Department last week talked with Kevin Simmons, the area maintenance manager for Crown Castle, about placement of the faux bird.

HBPD Lt. Dale Stephenson said Simmons cooperated with police and indicated he would provide any additional information requested.

When contacted, Simmons referred questions to the company’s legal department because of the FWC investigation. He said the company takes pride in caring for active nests at its towers.

Correction
The July 18 story in The Islander about the Holmes Beach cell tower birds incorrectly identified one of the FWC investigators. The story should have named FWC law enforcement officer Terry Noll.

One Response to Empty nest found on cell tower, faux bird OK’d

  1. Tim says:

    I am glad that the nest is empty. This not the time of year that ospreys reproduce because it is too hot. However, the nest should be left alone because the ospreys that built it will be back next January. Some nests in Manatee county have been occupied by ospreys for 20 years or more, because Ospreys mate for life.

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