Ospreys have a home on west side of Little Falls

An osprey pair builds a new nest on a platform built by Marv Cekalla at the north end of Mill Park on the west side of the Mississippi River in Little Falls.

An osprey pair builds a new nest on a platform built by Marv Cekalla at the north end of Mill Park on the west side of the Mississippi River in Little Falls.

Marv Cekalla provides nesting platforms for ospreys around Minnesota

 

by Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer

 

Little Falls residents may have noticed a nesting pair of ospreys settling in for the season in Mill Park, on the west side of the river on the site of the old Hennepin Paper Mill.

Ospreys are large birds but not as large as eagles. They resemble eagles with their talons and beaks. They have a wing span of five – six feet.

“I’m guessing it is the same pair that have nested there for years,” said Cyndi Stanek. “I could actually see the nest from my place across the river in years past because it was so large. I believe they continue to add to it year after year like the eagles do with their nests.”

Marv Cekalla of Marv’s Wood Products in Little Falls has made more than 20 osprey nest platforms for Minnesota Power and the Department of Natural Resources.

Marv Cekalla of Marv’s Wood Products in Little Falls has made more than 20 osprey nest platforms for Minnesota Power and the Department of Natural Resources.

The nesting platform being used by the ospreys was made by Marv Cekalla of Marv’s Wood Products.

“Minnesota Power came to me a couple of years ago to build the platforms,” Cekalla said. “They told me what they had to have and I drew it up.”

The platforms are 36 inches square and made out of cedar.

“They last forever,” he said. “The bottom is black mesh so the water drains. I’ve made about 20 or so.”

“Ospreys take very readily to nesting platforms,” said Beau Liddell, area wildlife manager for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). “Sometimes landowners who like raptors such as ospreys want information to put up their own platform.”

“A lot of utility poles are not suitable for nest building, They need a bigger platform. It turns a typical utility pole into something flat for the bird to nest on,” said Bill Fraundorf, environmental compliance specialist with Minnesota Power.

A standard osprey nest platform design is 36 inches square, with crossed two by four supports. Nylon mesh is used to keep sticks and other nest materials in place. Four iron brackets are used to attach the platform to the pole.

“The ospreys need a structure that is very secure to withstand wind resistance and the weight of the nest,” said Fraundorf.

Minnesota Power and the DNR have partnered for more than a decade to relocate ospreys from adequately populated areas to sparsely populated locations.

“The Minnesota population is healthy,” Fraundorf said. “We’ve helped relocate chicks to Iowa.”

In early- to mid-July, a Minnesota Power helicopter crew counts the hatchlings in osprey nests and reports the numbers and locations to the DNR.

“We require that at least one chick be left in every nest,” said Fraundorf. “The number of chicks relocated depends on the number of eggs in each nest.”

When power poles are replaced, the linemen replace the nest for osprey parents, who return to the same spot to nest every year.

“We do what we can to encourage osprey nesting in appropriate areas,” Fraundorf said.

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