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Osprey urged to build nests elsewhere before crews demolish Boling Bridge
New homes installed beside green bridge for bird of prey
Scott Bridge Co. workers guide poles onto a barge Friday morning for Jackson EMC to erect in hopes osprey will nest there.

The ospreys who live on Boling Bridge, which connects Hall and Forsyth counties, were given an eviction notice Friday.

Ospreys are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the fish-eating bird of prey’s habitats can’t be destroyed. Officials, however, are hopeful the birds will move on their own.

They have two years to pack their things and go before the green bridge that spans Lake Lanier along Dawsonville Highway is set to be demolished.

A team of employees from Jackson EMC, Scott’s Bridge Co., Audubon Society, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Georgia Department of Transportation created a plan to install inviting new homes for the birds in the form of two 65-foot poles with wood and chainlink fence nesting areas nailed to the top.

“Because our bridge replacement project will tear the old bridge down after completing the new one, we were able to secure the osprey new ‘homes,’ well in advance of any bridge demolition,” Katie Strickland, Department of Transportation district spokeswoman, said.

However, Scott’s Bridge Co. chief field engineer James Bell just spent six years in Florida dealing with the same issue.

“They want to return to where they’ve been,” Bell said.

He said the birds also tend to pick the highest location and settle down there. Every morning, fieldworkers have to remove sticks from the top of cranes near the bridge.

“(The hope is) the two families that have taken up residency on Boling Bridge will move to the new nests,” communications manager for Jackson EMC April Sorrow said. “We want them to be safe.”

Sorrow drives under the nests whenever she visits her father and grandfather’s houses and always tries to spot them.

“I’m going to miss them when they’re gone,” she said.

Jackson EMC offered manpower for the project, as well as a truck used to dig the holes for the poles.

Resident bird lover Susan Bagwell, wife of Jackson EMC district coordinator over engineering Benny Bagwell, came along for the fun.

“Today my favorite (bird) is the osprey,” Bagwell, who has been birding for about seven years, said.

The man-made nests are situated on either side of the Forsyth County side of the bridge about 1,000 feet apart.

It took nearly all day to install both poles in an area that’s underwater when Lake Lanier is at full pool.

“They’ll be in the water a little bit, but not much,” Scott Bridge Co. employee Jacob Greer said.