Osprey Thriving at Turquoise and Forebay
Note: This story was originally published on June 18, 2017.
It’s time for some bird talk. Leadville Today has been getting inquiries about how the Ospreys are doing at Turquoise and Mt. Elbert Forebay Reservoir (aka Forebay), so here’s an update on the fine-feathered friends.
“The brand new platform at Turquoise is being used!” reported Leadville Ranger District Wildlife Biologist, Jeni Windorski.
Last August, the US Forest Service erected an osprey nest platform out at Turquoise Lake, located west of Leadville. The hope was that the platform would encourage the birds to build a nest, breed, and increase fledging populations in the area. It was successful! The osprey mom is presently sitting on eggs, with new babies are on the way any day!
The 90 ft utility pole was placed among lodgepole pines and the surrounding fir forest at the west end of the lake at the May Queen Campground.
Many locals may remember the long-standing osprey nest which could be seen from the Valley View Overlook Site at Turquoise Lake, above the north shore. Two years ago that nest blew over, creating quite a social media conversation, as the birds’ long-standing home was beloved by many Leadville residents – for generations – as the osprey would return year after year to their nest.
So last August a coordinated effort was executed under the direction of the Forest Service to place a new platform at Turquoise Lake for the birds, also known as seahawks. They happily moved right in this year and are already expanding the family. Here’s the LT video of last summer’s project.
Bird lovers will also find a new interpretive Osprey sign at the Butcher Boy day-use area (at May Queen). It’s the perfect place to observe the Osprey with binoculars.
Osprey are beautiful and fascinating birds that play an important role in the area’s ecosystem. These birds are common sights soaring over shorelines, patrolling waterways, and standing on their huge stick nests, white heads gleaming. Osprey happily build large stick-and-sod nests on telephone poles, or in this case an Excel energy utility pole. The nests are a bulky mass of sticks often five feet in diameter and two to seven feet thick, which could explain why the old one finally blew down from its weight!
While these large, rangy hawks do well around humans, please enjoy these birds from a distance. Allowing them the space they need will ensure that they continue to thrive.
Meanwhile, out at Forebay the Osprey have returned!
“We are testing our temporary closure one more year to see if it helps,” said Windorski, referring to the limited access on the southwest area of the reservoir which was instituted last year.
“People and pets will sometimes get too close to the nests, stressing the birds to the point where they often abandon their nest,” explained Windorski. She added that if an Osprey sounds an alarming call or flaps its wings, then you’re too close and need to retreat to a respectful distance.
Forebay visitors will find a third of a mile of the reservoir’s 3-mile shoreline barricaded and posted with signs instructing people to enjoy these amazing birds from afar. This temporary restriction will remain in place through the bird nesting season, which usually ends around August 31 in the high country.
That’s a wrap for today’s bird talk. Next up will be the bats in the belfry out at the Leadville National Fish Hatchery. Did you know they count them every year? Stay Tuned!