Column By Kevin Zak (Naugatuck River Revival Group)

   Late Friday evening, or early Saturday morning, Northeast Utilities (NU), with verbal permission from Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), destroyed an active Osprey nest along the Naugatuck River in Beacon Falls. Disturbance of nesting Osprey is prohibited under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 and the Connecticut General Statutes Section 26-92.

   DEEP apparently gave NU permission to remove the nest at least a month ago, before the birds were nesting. But for unknown reasons NU delayed the nest removal, and by the time they did tear the nest to pieces, two Ospreys had set up shop.

The Ospey nest before being destroyed by Northeast Utilities. Photo by Kevin Zak

   These magnificent creatures came from their winter grounds in the West Indies, Central America or northern South America. 

   About three weeks ago this particular pair came back to the nest on a utility pole in Beacon Falls and quickly began adding new nest materials to the year old nest. An average of three eggs are laid in April. Incubation begins when the first egg is laid and  lasts for 30 days. Incubation is usually completed by the female, who is fed by the male during this time.

   Commonly mistaken for an Eagle it stands 2 feet tall with a wing span of six feet. They can be seen diving into the Naugatuck River at up to 80 miles per hour. They feed almost exclusively on fresh fish. They can catch fish weighing up to four pounds.  Both these birds and the nest that was destroyed is featured in our film called The Hidden World.

An image from an Osprey nest in Colorado demonstrates why Northeast Utlities was concerned about the Osprey nest. The birds will return to a nest year after year, making it bigger and bigger each nesting season. Photo from National Geographic.

   The return to their nest has become a nightmare for this pair of Osprey. What occurred here is cruel and an outrage. The following is what I have pieced together.

   It was NU that removed the nest. They were given “verbal” permission a month ago by DEEP. Why verbal?  Why did NU wait a month? The Osprey was not there a month ago. This morning I was told by an authority at DEEP’s Wildlife Div. that NU is well aware they are not to disturb an active nest.

   After removing the nest NU attached needle like spike strips to the top of the pole to prevent the Osprey from rebuilding the nest. The pair is currently trying to rebuild and is in danger of injuring themselves. The female waits in a nearby perch calling in distress as the male desperately attempts to rebuild. Photo’s taken today show his talons appear in and around the needle like spikes as he places a branch onto the spikes.

With its nest destroyed, the Beacon Falls Osprey are attempting to rebuild atop the same utility pole. Sharp wire was installed over the weekend to prevent the birds from rebuilding, but they didn’t get the memo. Now they are in imminent danger of being impaled on the wire. Photograph by Keith Thomas

   NU claims there were no eggs in the nest they destroyed. I personally found egg fragments at the base of the pole. There was no evidence of eggs last year, the first year of the nest.

   The Osprey will likely continue building the nest thru the summer.  Now they need to feed and build. That takes tremendous energy. The river just went up with the rain making it difficult to fish. That does not help. There is much stress on this pair.

   NU needs to step up quickly with a platform and/or remove these spikes.

   After waiting over 100 years for this river to sustain life is this any way  to treat the return of the Osprey?