Army Corps of Engineers' Olmsted Dam crew successfully orchestrates osprey egg relocation
June 5, 2014
(LOUISVILLE, KY.) -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District Olmsted, Ill. Dam project created and completed a formidable rescue operation of four Osprey eggs that lay in a nest atop a ringer crane on site.
The ospreys found the boom -- the uppermost top -- of a ringer crane to their liking and so they nested, and then laid and tended to their eggs. The crane is a piece of critical equipment used for lifts. The two ospreys built their nest in April, but the Corps knew time was soon approaching to use the crane.
"We are working to maintain an environmentally friendly work site here," said Capt. Ian McBride, Olmsted Division executive officer. "We wanted to have the osprey eggs taken care of without impacting our job."
Just like a project timeline, a plan had to be developed and executed for the successful removal and transport of the eggs to a safe haven. The Corps and the project contractors worked together and their points of contacts eventually led them to the World Bird Sanctuary in St. Louis, Mo. Initially, the Olmsted staff coordinated with environmental agencies and subsequently, a relocation plan evolved. This action also required a permit, and that process was expedited through the Louisville District's planning environmental section to obtain the permit. Though approval existed to remove the nest, the end goal was always to have the viable eggs transferred carefully to the World Bird Sanctuary so they would be treated with love and care, and hopefully, hatch.
Within a week, three people from the bird sanctuary arrived on site, donned safety gear, boarded a barge and were hoisted up by crane in basket to reach the nest. The nest was approximately three to four feet in circumference. The eggs are larger than those in your dairy section. The men worked to retrieve the eggs more than 180 feet in the air.
"We got the call (from Olmsted project staff) and sent our two best people to make the relocation work," said Walter Crawford, World Bird Sanctuary. "The Corps and the contractors who worked the crane were unbelievable. If we said, 'move it three inches to the left,' they did exactly that. These guys are totally on the ball.
"Hats off to the Corps. The whole crew helped out, like an Army team, including the contractor (Joint Venture Washington Group/Alberici/URS) and the site was staged properly," Crawford continued. "I have never seen an operation move as smoothly as that." He said egg retrieval in general is risky and complicated.
While the egg removal occurred, an osprey parent flew above the crane. The crew retrieved the eggs placing them in a cooler with a blanket, and thermometer to ensure they were kept warm. The Wild Bird Sanctuary staff drove the precious cargo back to St Louis. On May 26, one egg hatched, and a second osprey egg was predicted to hatch later.
For the future, the Corps executed another plan to ensure the ospreys would choose other real estate to begin their families. The Corps worked with wildlife management agencies and had two platforms -- pedestals with a box -- erected between 150 and 200 feet which will provide for adequate nesting areas for the next migratory and nesting season. The pedestals are in a wildlife preserve located across the Ohio River from Olmsted in Ballard, Ky.
For more information on the World Bird Sanctuary go to: http://www.worldbirdsanctuary.org/