Celebrating the return of the osprey

PSEG removes garbage, debris from nesting platforms to prepare

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On World Wildlife Day, March 3, PSEG Long Island celebrates the strong return of the local osprey population and continues preparing for the upcoming breeding season by inspecting known nesting areas, performing maintenance on the osprey cams it installed, and cleaning out debris and garbage in the nests located near the cameras in Oyster Bay and Patchogue. 

“The theme of this year’s World Wildlife Day is ‘recovering key species for ecosystem restoration,’ and the osprey’s recovery on Long Island is one of those success stories,’” said Michael Sullivan, PSEG Long Island’s vice president of Transmission & Distribution. “PSEG Long Island is proud to play a small role in this multi-decade effort — because good environmental stewardship is part of being strongly involved in the community, and also because protecting these birds from high-voltage equipment improves reliability for our customers.”

Osprey build their nests on the tallest structure near a body of water. To proactively monitor its utility poles for osprey nests, PSEG Long Island partners closely with Group for the East End, a nonprofit organization that has advocated for the protection and preservation of nature on the East End since 1972. Volunteers with the nonprofit conduct their own surveys of the area and share osprey data with the company, which maintains a team dedicated to mitigating risks and relocating nests safely and in accordance with all regulations protecting the wildlife.

According to a report issued by the Group for the East End late last year, osprey breeding activity on the East End has grown by 200 percent in the past seven years, with 199 active nests in 2014 growing to 460 in the summer of 2021.

In balancing its commitment to the consistent, safe delivery of power for its customers with its commitment to being a good environmental steward, PSEG Long Island has installed dozens of new osprey nesting platforms to deter the returning birds from nesting on electrical equipment, which puts both the raptors and the electrical system in danger. Maintaining the nesting platforms helps PSEG Long Island maintain strong electric service reliability.

PSEG Long Island has installed 24-hour webcams at two of these nesting platforms, in Oyster Bay and Patchogue. Late last month, crews cleared debris and garbage from these platforms to make them safe for the osprey as they return to breed.

For more information about osprey and to view live webcam feed of the nests, visit https://www.psegliny.com/wildlife/ospreycam.

Human garbage is hazardous to the birds. Many times, the osprey will gather garbage, such as plastic bags and fishing wire to build their nests. Fishing lines and strings may wrap around the birds’ feet, preventing them from leaving the nest. Plastic litter is very easy to find and since the birds live close to humans, plastics often are found in nests. 

When osprey build a nest on electrical equipment, it puts the nest in danger of catching fire, which can cause significant damage and outages to customers, as well has harm to the osprey. The birds are at high risk of electrocution, as their large wingspan can complete the circuit between closely spaced energized equipment or between an energized wire and a neutral ground wire.

Long Island is home to more than 400 species of birds, including the majestic osprey. Osprey are large beautiful birds and a popular sight on Long Island. From the 1950s through the 1970s, Long Island’s osprey population decreased and became endangered. The effort to build safe nesting sites on or near waterways has contributed to the rise in the population of osprey.

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