After Major Fowl Up, Ospreys Seek a Happy Landing

After working with the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy, the River Park and the US Fish and Wildlife, a self-appointed group of three past mayors (and bird lovers), Dwight Worden, John Weare and yours truly, began researching the perfect location for an osprey platform.  The osprey pair, with love on their minds and not waiting for permits and approvals took it on their own and built a nest (actually two nests) on top of a San Diego Gas & Electric (SDGE) power pole in the Del Mar Fair dirt parking lot.


Beginning in late December you may have noticed a pair of ospreys circling the village and the San Dieguito Lagoon, first courting each other and later searching for a nesting place.

Nest building; male brings food. Photo by John Weare

These majestic birds have wingspans of 5 – 6 feet.  They capture fish with special talons that hook their prey near the water surface.  They appear to be unafraid of people and often build nests in urban areas.  They have been seen scooping up fish on the Del Mar shoreline within a few feet of beachgoers.


Like pelicans, ospreys are fish eaters and their numbers were also decimated and affected by DDT use.  The recently restored San Dieguito Lagoon has created an ideal habitat for them to flourish once again and the ospreys have taken notice.

Babies in nest. Photo by John Weare

San Diego Gas & Electric (SDGE) has provided lip service to assisting the ospreys, but they have continued to tear down the nests the ospreys are building.  Technically, SDGE is not violating the law, but they are violating the ospreys’ right and desire to reclaim their homeland nesting areas.  In other parts of the United States utility companies have been proactive and have built nesting structures for ospreys. For example, Versant Power in Maine has had over 2.65 million views on their osprey webcam.   Not SDGE.   They prefer to tear down the nests until the ospreys give up. 


It is a violation of the law for SDGE to remove a nest that has eggs or chicks. SDGE seems to wait until the hen is just about to lay eggs, and bam, once again nest destroyed.


Although ospreys are no longer listed as endangered, they are protected during nesting under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.


 The ospreys just want a home. They are unaware of the number and types of permits and the red tape required to just build their nest. It’s harder to build an osprey nesting platform than to build a home in Del Mar. It’s time to once again welcome ospreys to Del Mar. 


Little did they know that three past Del Mar mayors and a number of bird lovers were working on a plan to locate and build a nesting platform.