In March, Stoughton resident and birdwatcher Glenn Van Rossum observed an osprey nest on the centerfield light pole at the Jackson Street baseball diamond.
The osprey family has since vacated the nest for the winter, Van Rossum told the Hub. But now that the nest is empty, the City of Stoughton is expected to take down the light poles within the next few weeks, Stoughton parks and recreation director Dan Glynn told the Hub in an email.
Though the baseball and softball diamonds are Stoughton Area School District property, the city is responsible for removing the light poles now that they are no longer in use, SASD Groundskeeper Luke Butz said.
But Van Rossum worried about the ospreys’ adaptability given they may return in the spring to find their nest would be gone. He was especially concerned since the state’s Department of Natural Resources classified this fish-eating, large raptor as a protected species — the level above endangered.
The city reached out to DNR staff, who passed on ways to best handle the nest and cause minimal disruption to the birds. An initial plan was to remove the light, leave the pole in place and attach a platform. Van Rossum hoped this could work so the birds might return to Jackson Street in the spring.
The school district was not against this plan, but wanted the city to manage the upkeep and eventual removal of the pole and plank once the birds had left, Butz said. For the city, having to maintain something on school district property was a “deal breaker,” Glynn said.
Because of this, the city is expected to continue with the original plan of removing all of the poles as stated in the contract. The DNR advised the city to wait until the osprey family vacated the nest for the winter, and now the city is waiting for the ground to be firm enough in the coming weeks for minimal grounds disturbance, Glynn said.
Though the species is adaptable and should be able to find a new nest, Van Rossum thinks the community is losing out on a valuable learning experience. In his experience, raptors such as osprey typically nest near water and farther from people.
Waking up early over the summer and using his binoculars to watch the family grow was an unbelievable experience, he said.
“I think it’s just an incredible educational opportunity for viewing the habitat of raptors in a neighborhood,” Van Rossum said. “To be that proximal is just rather surprising and amazing.”