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Nesting ospreys banking on Excel tower

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Sopris Sun Staff Report

Hiding in plain sight, a pair of osprey has taken up residence on top of the Excel tower across Highway 133 from Alpine Bank.

Sharp-eyed bank customers first noticed the birds building their lofty nest two or three weeks ago. By last weekend, word had spread and at least one group of viewers munched on the bank’s Saturday donuts as they watched the birds’ comings and goings.

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Ospreys were endangered by the effects of DDT in the mid-20th century, according to the National Geographic Website, but since DDT and related pesticides were banned in 1972, they have made a good come back in many parts of North America.

Ospreys’ primary diet is composed of fish, typically in the 4-12 inch range (as seen here). Males do most of the hunting and females the feeding. In the Excel tower case, Mr. Osprey doesn’t have far to fly, as the Roaring Fork River is less than a quarter mile away.

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The Carbondale osprey joins another pair of nesting osprey on Highway 82 between Basalt and El Jebel. The nest as been there for several years. Last December, Pitkin County and Holy Cross teamed up to put an “osprey cam” on a pole about 20 feet from the nest. You can check it out at pitkincounty.com/953/osprey-cam. There is also a nesting pair of osprey in Dotsero, according to the Colorado Parks & Wildlife Website.

Getting back to Carbondale, a local Audubon Society member told The Sopris Sun she has contacted Excel to see about putting a more stable platform on top of the tower (one slid off last year). She also talked to the US Forest Service, who told her none of the towers pose a risk as far as electrocution goes.

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At this point, it’s impossible to tell how many baby osprey are 75-feet off the ground with their parents, but time should tell as the spring and summer goes on. Incubation takes about 38 days; the age at first flight is about 51-54 days.

Bring your binoculars and stay tuned.

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Published in The Sopris Sun on May 26, 2016.

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