News

Spring Lake, N.J. Fire Siren Turned Off After Ospreys Build Nest

Updated May 7, 2014, 5:30 p.m.

SPRING LAKE, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A pair of ospreys decided to build a nest in a volunteer fire department siren in Spring Lake, N.J., forcing the department to turn it off.

By law, the nests for the birds of prey cannot be disturbed. Ospreys are listed as a threatened species in New Jersey during their breeding season.

So the fire siren – similar to an air raid or emergency warning siren but intended only to alert firefighters – has been turned off for the spring and summer. Firefighters and paramedics will rely on pagers and cellphones to alert them of emergencies.

As CBS 2’s John Slattery reported, the serenity of beautiful Spring Lake is occasionally shattered by a piercing noise from the siren when volunteer firemen are called.

Borough Administrator Bryan Dempsey said a police officer notified him in March that an osprey appeared to be building a nest on the siren, which is mounted on a pole about 100 feet off the ground behind the police, fire and first aid squad headquarters.

“It’s pretty impressive to see them build a nest and how large they are,” said Dempsey. “We had to shut off the siren for the rest of the season.”

First responders in the resort about 60 miles north of Atlantic City say so far things have been working smoothly.

Spring Lake officials say they may need to create an alternate place nearby for the birds to nest next year, as they tend to return to the same spot.

“The issue is, once they pick a spot, they keep coming back to that spot,” Dempsey said. “Even if we got rid of the nest at the end of the season, we’d have to build a new spot for them to nest next season. So we’ll do whatever we have to do to make sure they have a habitat to live in.”

Officials said they plan to fence off the siren and erect a nesting box on a pole nearby, Slattery reported.

Borough officials said having the siren temporarily out of commission is not a safety problem because the siren is a back-up to more modern devices.

“They get dispatched either by a pager system, a cellphone or a text message to their cellphone,” said Dempsey.

The nest cannot be disturbed at least until Sept. 1.

Officials say they believe several chicks have hatched, but none was visible from the ground on Tuesday.

There are nearly 550 pairs of ospreys in New Jersey, based on a 2013 state survey. They usually mate for life, and incubate the eggs for about 5 weeks.

The young birds leave the nest about 8 to 10 weeks after hatching. The male and female head south for the winter, traveling to separate locations as far as South America, yet return to the same area if not the same nest the following year.

They prefer to nest on high ground near water, since fish account for 99 percent of their diet. An osprey can see a swimming fish from 100 feet in the air, swoop down and grab it with their talons.

Check Out These Other Stories From CBSNewYork.com:

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)