Ospreys return to Poulsbo

Poulsbo's ospreys are returning to the area. And volunteers are eagerly watching to see if they nest where they've encouraged them to

POULSBO — Straight off their winter West Coast tour, the birds have landed back in town.

“An osprey was seen this afternoon circling the old nest site at Poulsbo’s Strawberry Field,” Gene Bullock of the Kitsap Audubon Society said on April 5.

Only one osprey was sighted on that day.

“The male comes first and scouts the area, then the female comes next,” Bullock said.

The osprey, a raptor, is a fish-eating bird of prey. Last summer, Poulsbo watched as an osprey family made its nest atop a lighting structure at Strawberry Field — a dangerous choice of foundation, given the extreme heat and fire hazard posed by lights used for nighttime sporting events. When the ospreys left for the season in November, local volunteers took down the nest and replaced it on a neighboring structure, light-free, in hopes that when the family returned it would move there. Excluding devices were mounted on the light structure to discourage the ospreys from nesting there again.

“They have a high degree of nest loyalty,” Bullock said. “They will try to build on the old nest if they can. They will probably try to drop nesting materials there. But the excluders should protect them.”

He added, “We’re pretty optimistic that they will get the idea and realize that their nesting materials have been moved to a new platform. We’ve been eagerly awaiting to see how they would react when they got back.”

Bullock notes that the ospreys know when they are being watched, and can tell the difference between people playing on the field and folks who are following them. He discourages people from crowding around the new nesting site and giving the birds too much attention, which could make them nervous and disturb their nest-making time.