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Byron Shire
October 4, 2022

Osprey chicks die after Kingscliff nesting tower topples

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Three Eastern Osprey chicks died after their artificial nest in a tower at Kingscliff toppled and fell to the ground early yesterday, despite efforts to protect them.

A Tweed Shire Council spokesman says the birds’ cradle structure fell to the ground from a tower next to Cudgen Creek at Kingscliff,.

National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) officers and community members had alerted council to the noticeable lean on the pole supporting the nest over the last few months, however eggs were already in the nest.

Council’s senior program leader for waterways, Tom Alletson, said ‘we were unable to repair the structure until these chicks had left the nest as they would have been put in danger by any works’.

‘Unfortunately, this morning’s strong winds proved too much for the metal cradle holding the nest and it fell’, Mr Alletson said.

Faye Hill, a community coordinator of the Tweed Osprey Monitoring Group, described it as ‘an absolute tragedy, we’ve been monitoring this nest for many years’.

‘We had been alerted but were unable to do anything more to protect the chicks,’ Ms Hill said.

Eastern Ospreys are top order predators who live solely on fish and are listed as Vulnerable in NSW. They need a healthy eco system to support them including good water quality and a plentiful fish habitat.

Ms Hill said Osprey have a long association with the nest, with each egg incubating for 36-39 days, followed by seven weeks as a fledgling (before the first flight) then a few months staying with the parents ‘learning how to be an osprey’.

‘They’re specially built for fishing – they catch fish with their talons and manipulate them to carry them head first into the nest,’ she said.

Mr Alletson said council’s role was to work with NPWS to facilitate Osprey nest sites, with the cooperation of Essential Energy, who usually owned the poles used to support the nests.

‘Artificial structures have been used for many years for nesting to discourage the birds from nesting on inappropriate structures such as active power poles,’ he said.

‘They would naturally nest on large, old dead trees but these have all but been lost from the landscape.’

Tweed mayor Katie Milne said: ‘We are working to get a program of inspection of known breeding sites. There are 22 across the Tweed, of which 21 are on artificial structures, such as on power poles.’

The deceased chicks were collected by Council from the site this morning and will go to the Australian Museum for scientific purposes.

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  1. Faye Hill and her ‘Tweed Osprey Monitoring Group’ have been watching, recording successful fledglings, and advocating for these birds for over 20 years. Thank you. The Tweed is a better place for your work.


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