Construction crews working on the Avalon Boulevard project had to reclaim their territory multiple times in the past week after a pair of osprey decided that one of the cranes would best be suited as their new nesting area.

Contractors at the site received a permit through The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation on March 22 to remove an osprey nest at the top of the crane on Avalon Boulevard near the Interstate 10 bridge.

According to Ian Satter, public information director with the Florida Department of Transportation, crews got permission to clear the start of a nest and when they left to work on another project for a few days, another nest was almost completely built.

"We've had the beginnings of a nest several times over the past week," Satter said.

Angela Williams, protected species permit coordinator with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation, said the crane is a tall prominent structure that stands above the surrounding trees and the bridge, which is why the birds decided to nest there - multiple times.

"Osprey are quite territorial. I can't say for sure it's the same osprey, but they usually stay in the same area," Williams said. "They love to build their nests on high structures because they won't have raccoons and other things destroying it."

The osprey is federally protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Osprey Nest Removal Guidelines. They are also protected by the state; however, only if the nest is active - meaning if it contains eggs or babies that are unable to fly.

Luckily, the nests on the Avalon construction crane were moved before they were considered active.

Williams said frequently when the birds build nests on billboards, cell towers or power lines and they need to be moved, an alternate structure is built off the tower so the nest could be moved near the same location. However, with the construction crane that wasn't an option.

The osprey can build a nest within a matter of days, which is how they kept appearing at the construction site.

"At some sites, construction crews would leave on a Friday and have a full nest by Monday," Williams said. "They could build them within a matter of days depending on the age or experience of (the bird)."

In order to prevent osprey from nesting, Williams said people could lower structures so they aren't as attractive to the animals. Flashing objects and flags deter the birds and by putting a cone shaped device at the top of the structure it makes it impossible to build the nest.

"But it all depends on how tenacious the birds are," Williams said. 

About the osprey (source: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation)

The osprey typically has a five to six foot wingspan and adults are dark brown above with a white underside and head. They are found year-round in Florida as nesting species. Ospreys build large stick nests on top of large trees or manmade structures. Nesting begins from December in south Florida to late February in north Florida. The incubation and nestling period extends into the summer months.