Poulsbo osprey nest deemed a fire risk, will be moved

POULSBO, Wash. -- Some 70 plus feet above the soccer field by Poulsbo Elementary there is a sight and sound that's attracting and concerning bird watchers.

"It's really neat to watch them. Just kinda hope there won't be a fire hazard," said Janene Schutt, the president of the Kitsap Audubon Society.

Using a lens longer than a baby's leg, Schutt snapped pictures of the Ospreys nesting on top of a light pole above Strawberry Field. The impressive location gives the birds a panoramic view that prevents sneak attacks by eagles.

The high spot is ideal for them. "But the nest is made of flammable materials and it's in direct contact with pretty hot lights," said Audubon Society member Gene Bullock who is spearheading a push to move the nest once the 3 babies learn to fly and fish.

The bird lovers want to relocate the nest once it's inactive so they don't have a repeat of 2011.

"There was a cell phone tower that actually caught fire from an osprey nest and one of the birds was injured," Schutt said. "And we're not sure if any small birds were in the nest at that time."

They've called on Puget Sound Energy for help even though it's the school's light pole, not the utility's. PSE moves about five nests a year to prevent fires and electrocutions and said nearly 1,300 of its outages in 2013 were caused by animals such as birds and squirrels.

Moving a hefty Osprey nest can cost up to $3,000 and PSE representatives say they plan to donate a pole with a platform to the cause. The Kitsap County School District still has to approve putting a new pole on its property once the birds migrate. It must be within a quarter mile of the old nest or the Ospreys likely won't take to it.

The birds should be migrating to Venezuela come September but they mate for life and the bird watchers expect the pair to return to find their same nest next year.