The osprey-watch will soon begin at Stockton Lake as a new nesting platform was installed by Empire District Electric on Tuesday, Feb. 24.
Crews were on site at noon, at Ruark Bluff Road, at the Missouri Department of Conservation access.
Ospreys, a bird of prey, nest near lakes, ponds, rivers and streams in large trees or on artificial structures, such as electric utility poles.
Elevated platforms, like the one installed by Empire at Stockton Lake, have been used successfully by nesting osprey at a number of locations in the Midwest.
Osprey will return to the same nesting site each year, typically in early March. The platform is being built specifically for the pair who nested on the arms of the nearby transmission line last year. This nest caught fire by making a connection with the energized line burning not only their nest, but the transmission line and part of the pole.
“This is an important project for us to help the pair establish a safe nesting alternative and avoid any outages to our customers,” said Brent Baker, general manager of Customer Service, Transmission and Engineering for Empire District.
Ospreys are an uncommon migrant to Missouri. They are listed as an endangered species in our neighboring state, Illinois, and are listed as a species of concern for Missouri.
Although they were never plentiful in the past, it seems reintroduction efforts are paying off. According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, as of 2014 there have been 10-20 nesting pairs documented in recent summers.
Adult ospreys – sometimes mistaken for the larger bald eagle – are generally 21-26 inches long with a black upper body and mostly-white head, chest and underbelly.