Cabarrus

Lake's artificial platforms help attract more osprey

The Lake Norman Wildlife Conservationists is a chapter of the N.C. Wildlife Federation. Its mission is to enhance and protect wildlife habitat in the Lake Norman area for all to enjoy.

Among the many projects it is involved with, and one of the most significant, is the placement of osprey nesting platforms around the lake.

A few years ago, the osprey began making a comeback, much like the Southern bald eagle, but was having a difficult time finding nesting sites.

The project began with the approval of the N.C. Water Resources Commission, Duke Energy and the Lake Norman Marine Commission. More than a dozen platforms have been positioned in shallow water, most near an island and away from boat traffic.

Atop each pole is a large basket, which serves as a form or foundation for the birds to build their nests. A few sticks are seeded into the basket to begin the nest-building process.

Once a new platform is installed, it doesn't take long for a pair of ospreys to quickly set up housekeeping.

Younger birds claim many of the platforms, but these first-time nest builders aren't always successful. They learn that the nesting materials must be woven properly to prevent wind storms from upsetting or even blowing the nest away.

Not all nests are built on manmade poles or channel markers. It seems that any type of elevated structure is suitable during a housing shortage.

One of the most interesting is the nest built on the roof of a duck blind beside the small island at the entrance to Mountain Creek.

Another is built on the boat cover of a vessel sitting on a boat lift.

Amusingly, the birds are apparently getting more use out of the expensive boat than the owners are.

But there are more expensive nesting locations on Lake Norman. One nest is built on the chimney spire of a multimillion-dollar house on a point of land in a Mooresville gated community. A very large nest is perched atop the superstructure of the abandoned water intake facility at the south side entrance to Davidson Creek.

If you're a frequent visitor to the lake, you may find it interesting to observe the nesting activity throughout the season. Besides rearing their young, ospreys are avid do-it-yourself birds that continually bring new materials to the home. It is amazing to see the variety of materials they use to repair and expand the nest.

Coming event

A free safe boating class, "How to Navigate Lake Norman Day or Night," will be offered 6:30-8 p.m. June 15 at North Point Watersports, off I-77 at Exit 36, Mooresville. Topics will include "Understanding Lake Norman's Channel Marker and Buoy System," "Identifying and Learning How to Avoid the Ten Most Dangerous Spots," and "Interpreting Lake Maps." For information, call 704-617-6812 or email Gus@LakeNoman.com.

Children are invited to bring their parents to the Amazing Critter Cruise, which will set sail at noon June 18 from Queen's Landing, 1459 River Highway, Mooresville. The event, sponsored by the Lake Norman Wildlife Conservationists, supports the goal of getting families outdoors to enjoy Lake Norman. For details, call 704-332-5696.

Tips

To keep night crawlers and red wigglers lively, keep them in a cool, shady location. Sprinkle cool water on the worm dirt to keep it moist.

Hot spot

Largemouth bass are hitting soft plastic lures fished around piers, docks and "blow downs" upriver. Down lake, spotted bass are hitting shaky heads and crank baits over humps and deep brush.

Cat fishing is very good in Mountain, Burton and Lucky Creeks. For blue cats, use fresh-cut fish and chicken parts for bait. Schools of white perch are suspended in water from 20 to 30 feet deep.

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