Public Works staff installed an osprey nesting platform on City property at Cedar Lake this fall. An osprey (Pandion haleatus) is a fish-eating hawk that is classified as a state endangered species. Endangered plants and animals are those at risk of disappearing from the state as a breeding species. The birds may be seen throughout spring and fall migration but none have been known to nest at Cedar Lake.
Osprey stand 21-24” tall and have a 4 ½’ - 6’ wingspan. They nest in the tops of large, dead or open-topped trees, and on rock formations. Successful nesting sites are closely associated with bodies of water. Osprey have also adapted to nest building on artificial structures placed on poles or towers. While in flight, the birds dive into water for prey, which they carry to a perch to consume. Since the birds have been observed successfully catching fish, perching and soaring at Cedar Lake, it is plausible that they may also choose to nest, should a desirable nesting site become available to them.
Since very few osprey actually nest in Illinois, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) has launched an osprey recovery project with hopes of restoring stable breeding populations to the state. Components of the recovery project include hacking young osprey and building nesting platforms adjacent to bodies of water to encourage nesting throughout the state. Relocating raptor chicks, feeding them and ultimately releasing young raptors into the wild is accomplished through a procedure known as hacking. Since last year, ten osprey chicks have been taken from Virginia and hacked out of structures similar to nesting platforms at two central Illinois lakes. In locations where osprey are already active platforms are built to encourage nesting. Since 2005, more than 40 nesting platforms have been installed, statewide. A second platform will likely be constructed and put in place at Cedar Lake sometime next fall.
For more information on Cedar Lake and wildlife management on City of Carbondale land visit the City’s website at ww.ExploreCarbondale.com or call the Cedar Lake office at 618/549-8441.