Community Stories

Great Chief Park ospreys rebuild and take flight

August 09, 2019

Red Deerians who frequent Great Chief Park will likely have noticed a nesting pair of osprey that have made the park their home.

For at least fifteen years, the pair have nested, fished from the nearby Red Deer river, and raised their chicks to maturity. Up until last winter, the osprey had nested atop one specific sports lighting fixture at the Great Chief Park baseball field.

Sadly, last fall Great Chief Park staff had to remove the light fixture, as it was determined that the light pole that housed the osprey nest at the baseball field was damaged and in need of replacement. Woodpeckers had weakened the integrity of the pole, and waiting another year to replace the fixture was not an option.

This spring, the osprey returned to find their nest gone, and the fixture where they lived for years before replaced.  The birds initially attempted to rebuild their nest in the same location, but the new single poles do not have the structural capacity to hold the mass of sticks needed to build the nest.  Staff were heartbroken to see the osprey failing at rebuilding. Luckily, the osprey soon moved to a more suitable pole on a different field, rebuilding their nest with sticks and all sorts of other items, like string, plastic bags, and even an ice cream pail.

It appears that relocating their nest has had no side effects for the osprey. On the morning of Wednesday, August 7, the first osprey chick took flight down from the heights of the nest. City of Red Deer Recreation staff were lucky to snap a photo of the young bird.

In the fall, the osprey will fill their nest with anything it can find in order to ensure that the structure is strong enough to survive the winter. While the osprey migrates to warmer climates where they can catch fish, the new nest will stay strong and survive the bitter Red Deer winter for years to come.

Osprey Nest