Anyone in attendance at a University of Tampa baseball game is sure to notice what sits atop a pole down the right field line, a large birds nest. The nest is home to an osprey, one of the largest birds of prey in North America.
Ospreys are known for building their nests on man-made structures such as telephone poles, as well as platforms built for them in order to reestablish them into areas where they had disappeared.
‘The bird was at the previous stadium, well at least a bird, was at the previous stadium,’ said Jerome Fulton, athletic facilities director. ‘It had built a nest up in the light pole, which they tend to do, and I believe that the building and grounds people put something else similar to what is there now for the bird.’
With fear that the twigs from the nest might start a fire due to the heat from the lights, a new home was made. The osprey was accommodated with a platform on top of a pole next to the previously inhabited lights.
‘Initially it went back to the light pole,’ Fulton explained, ‘and then maybe the next season it started using the platform.’
When the baseball field was recently renovated, they had to consider the home of the protected osprey.
At the time of the renovation, an osprey chick was living in the nest, which caused a bit of an obstacle.
‘When we built the new stadium, we had to consider the bird,’ said Fulton.
The pole supporting the nest had to remain standing while all others were taken down. Once the birds left the nest, the pole was taken down and replaced.
The platform and nest were also put back close to where the original nest was, in cooperation with Florida’s law protecting the bird.
In the state of Florida, the osprey is a Species of Special Concern under the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and unless more is done to protect them, the ospreys could become threatened in the near future.
Like most wild animals, the osprey is vulnerable to environmental disturbance and habitat modification, as well as human disturbance.
As for the osprey living at the University of Tampa, it is sure to catch its fair share of fish out of the Hillsborough river, and plenty of baseball games.
Olivia Glynn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.