New homes for some feathered friends on Shelter Island

JIM COLLIGAN PHOTOS One of two platforms atop locust tree trunks fashioned by Highway Department employees as osprey nesting places set up at Shell Beach last week.

JIM COLLIGAN PHOTOS One of two platforms atop locust tree trunks fashioned by Highway Department employees as osprey nesting places set up at Shell Beach last week.

Shelter Island Town Highway Department employees have created a special homecoming for some part-time Islanders.

Two platforms on tall poles were set up last week so ospreys will have new accommodations for 2017.

According to Councilman Jim Colligan, the osprey population in Silver Beach spiked last year to the point where mating birds were making their nests on docks near Shell Beach. At the request of the Silver Beach Association and other residents, two new nesting places were built and placed at each end of the beach.

Commissioner of Public Works Jay Card Jr. found two long and straight locust trees and fashioned them as poles. Mr. Card, Councilman Colligan reported, thought it “would be better to use trees as opposed to  telephone poles to make it look more natural on the beach.”

One of the more dramatic signs of Island springtime is the return of these magnificent fish hawks — expected sometime next month — which winter as far afield as the Caribbean and South America before returning to their summer quarters.

Highway Department staffers Butch Labrozzi and Brett Page took the lead to make the handsome new towers, and Barry Ryder, Ken Lewis and Robbie Gorcoff pitched in to help create new living spaces for the ospreys.

“The individual and collective talents of these five men made it happen,” Mr. Colligan said. “Thank you for a job well done.”