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Osprey nest cleared from crane working on Tampa's Riverwalk

TAMPA — An osprey nest atop a 150-foot-tall crane being used to build Tampa's Riverwalk will not delay the $8.8 million project, officials said Tuesday.

Someone spotted the nest Monday, and the contractor, Johnson Bros. Corp. of Lithia, called in an eagle and osprey expert from the Clearwater Audubon Society.

Checking the nest Tuesday from the 22nd floor of a downtown skyscraper, Barbara Walker determined that the osprey pair had started piling sticks but had not laid eggs and did not have chicks. As a result, workers could lower the crane's boom and clear off the nest.

"I'm so glad that they called me soon, because once they had eggs or young, it is a federal issue, and there is nothing I can do," said Walker, who has a state permit to remove migratory birds' nests and is called in to assist on such cases around the region.

Johnson Bros. project manager John Meagher said he knows Walker from an incident when another osprey started nest-building atop one of his company's cranes in Belleair and called her "to be safe and cautious."

"Wildlife is important to us, and we don't want them to harm them in any way," he said. After removing the sticks, workers put some wire on the crane to discourage the birds from returning and, at Walker's suggestion, plan to add an orange traffic cone.

Johnson Bros. is building a section of the Riverwalk that consists of an over-the-water promenade going north from MacDill Park and under the Kennedy Boulevard bridge to Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. It is expected to done around Thanksgiving.

Meagher's crews were working on something else Monday, so the crane wasn't in use.

"We don't see any schedule impact at this point from the osprey," said David Vaughn, the city's director of contract administration.

Osprey nest cleared from crane working on Tampa's Riverwalk 03/25/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 6:12pm]
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