Ospreys are a major problem for the cell tower industry. Why? As they say in real estate—location, location, location! Learn more about this issue and what you can do to help prevent it.
The Osprey Problem
Cell towers offer the best waterfront views in town and penthouse-like space that would make any real estate billionaire envious. Ospreys are large predators that build nests, raise their young and cause numerous headaches for tower owners and operators. Unfortunately, once these freeloaders nest, it becomes very difficult to get them to leave. Legal eviction notices are ignored. In fact, there are treaties, like the Migratory Bird Act, which make it illegal to harm these protected birds or disturb their nests.
What Doesn’t Work?
Okay, so why not just send the climbers up the tower and work around the osprey without disturbing their nest? If climbing towers and juggling equipment hundreds of feet up is not dangerous enough, try doing this while tangling with an angry and aggressive mama raptor swooping down at you!
Moreover, where you have osprey nests on cell towers, you also have platforms coated with osprey waste, which not only produces an offensive smell, but is also highly toxic to breathe and makes for slippery surfaces when wet. Osprey waste is also highly corrosive and can result in structural failure and damage to equipment. The nests sometimes weigh so much as to exceed the load limits for the structure.
For many sites, you will also have neighbors who are watching the ospreys and your every move, ready to report any possible Migratory Bird Act violation in a New York minute. As a result, an active osprey nest can cause a tower to be out of commission for many months during the summer nesting season.
This can equate to many thousands of dollars in lost revenue. The problem gets worse. As if the tower was their own vacation condominium, ospreys almost always return and nest in the same spot after migrating for the winter. It’s as if they own it, minus the regime fees! But, there are solutions.
Solutions to the Osprey Problem
Okay, we all agree ospreys are a problem for the tower industry, but are there any solutions? In determining possible solutions, it is important to have some understanding of bird behavior.
Ospreys and other birds instinctually are highly intelligent creatures when it comes to survival. They are territorial and will challenge anything in their domain that presents a threat. They will either eliminate the threat or become acclimated to the threat and ignore it, or they will move on to another venue. Keeping all this in mind, the solutions to the osprey problem are PREVENTION and BEING PROACTIVE by taking the following action:
Take action before the ospreys nest.
On towers where the ospreys have never nested, install one or more bird deterrent devices that will scare the birds and discourage them from nesting and becoming acclimated in the future.
How do you prevent birds from becoming acclimated?
Experience tells us that birds are less likely to become acclimated to devices with formidable effects that are constantly changing and that have no set pattern. Another key is reinforcement. For example, when birds see something that looks threatening, they are less likely to become acclimated when it produces sounds, movement, and reflections that reinforce that it presents a genuine hazard.
Do your homework and look for bird deterrent devices that will repel the birds and prevent them from becoming acclimated to their formidable effects.
Finding the right bird deterrent device.
There are various cost-effective bird repelling devices on the market, such as the WhirlyBird Repeller. Because of the differences in bird habitats, geography and tower designs, there is no one size fits all solution. It frequently becomes necessary to experiment by mounting a number of devices at varying heights and locations in order to find a combination that works. It may also become advantageous to include more than one type of device for additional reinforcement.
Where an osprey has already nested, prevent them from re-nesting.
After the ospreys have migrated and temporarily abandoned their nest, completely remove all vestiges of the nest and make the tower as inhospitable as possible for them to re-nest in the future. Again, do your homework, and look for one or more devices that will repel the birds and prevent them from becoming acclimated to their formidable effects and reinforce that danger exists.
Consider The WhirlyBird Repeller
The WhirlyBird Repeller is a leading bird deterrent on the market, combining multiple bird scaring methods into a single device. This device incorporates randomized sound, motion, and reflections to help keep birds from getting acclimated to it. Learn more, and shop today!
Here are some good references:
Birds of North America - Cornell Lab of Ornithology: Osprey Behavior
Audubon - Osprey:
US Fish and Wildlife - Osprey:
By Rob Turkewitz
CEO, WhirlyBird Solutions, LLC
Simple solutions to complex problems.
Manufacturer of the WhirlyBird Repeller,
Repels nuisance birds, simply, safely, and effectively!