The original nesting site of the Leeman Highway ospreys now sports large yellow spikes, an attempt to deter ospreys from living on top of charged CMP utility poles. Despite the new nesting pole CMP installed nearby, the ospreys continue unsuccessful attempts to build their summer nest in between the barriers. Courtesy of Joanne Adams

Central Maine Power is facing a fresh round of backlash as a mating pair of ospreys have tried and failed repeatedly to nest atop a utility pole along Route 1 after CMP removed the nest, fearing the birds or nest could damage the lines and knock out power to the area.

The utility added yellow pylon-like barriers atop the utility pole to try to deter the raptors from rebuilding, but the pair has attempted numerous times to build in between the barriers.

Bath-area bird watchers have monitored the nesting pair since they arrived earlier this spring to discover their old nest gone. The birds of prey have so far turned their beaks up at a nesting pole the utility installed alongside the highway on April 17.

Joanne Adams, an avid osprey photographer who monitors 28 nests in the area and founded the Facebook group “Leeman Highway Osprey Advocates for Bath Maine and Beyond,” argued CMP should remove the barriers on the utility pole since the ospreys continue to ignore the alternative nesting post.

“The birds have not taken to that platform, I think it’s just too close to the road,” Adams said, adding that she was surprised the perch was allowed to be built so close to the highway, as nesting materials could fall on vehicles below.

A modest pile of sticks can still be seen in the old nesting location, though many have fallen because of the large yellow barriers placed on the pole, Adams said. She has also noticed that the birds have already begun mating and suspects eggs may be on the way soon. With no nest in place, Adams worries that this mating season might fail for the pair.


CMP spokesperson Jonathan Breed said that the barriers around the old nesting site were installed to specifically keep sticks from touching the dangerously charged parts of the powerline. CMP said the alternative perch was placed closer to the road to accommodate the machinery needed to install it. When asked about any possible safety hazards the perch posed to drivers, the Maine Department of Transportation stated it was not involved in selecting the location.

The priority for CMP, Breed said, is to prevent harm to the protected species and power outages. The key powerline serves vital operations such as schools, the Sagadahoc County Superior Court, some Bath Iron Works buildings, and the Bath, Woolwich and Georgetown fire departments.

“We also want what’s best for Maine’s wildlife,” Breed said. “This is exactly why we go in and mitigate these risks.”

Inland Fisheries and Wildlife biologist Keel Kemper said that based on osprey behavior observations gathered by The Times Record, the birds may just need more time to get used to the changes around their former home. He said the birds have a short window for mating and raising fledglings, given Maine’s climate.

“Sometimes platforms work, sometimes they don’t,” Kemper said. “What they’re telling us is that the (new) site isn’t ideal for them.”

The ospreys could be a “frustrated pair” trying to make their original site work, he said. Many factors could be influencing the birds’ persistence in trying to make their old nesting pole work, such as wind direction or the artificial nature of the platform, according to Kemper.

Kemper acknowledged that one issue could be the proximity to Route 1, though he said the ospreys should be used to traffic, given the previous placement of the nest. Kemper added that he has also seen ospreys build directly above heavy traffic in other locations, so it is hard to tell what exactly is driving this specific pair away from the new perch.

“We’ve done about (all) we can do,” Kemper said, later adding, “It’s hard out there in nature.”

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