Joel Beller has lived on Reynolds Channel for more than 40 years.
But he recently encountered something he’d never seen before.
Three months ago, he witnessed ospreys building a nest on a lighted channel marker across from his dock. He then found a mother, with dark brown-and-white feathers and a white head, feeding its babies.
“My dock and boat is directly in line with the buoy the nest is on,” said Beller, of Long Beach. “Every day, we can go out and see it, but I don’t get too close to disturb them.”
The osprey nest is on the channel marker buoy No. 7, which is under the jurisdiction of the Coast Guard. There are currently three chicks in the nest, Beller said, and he jokingly nicknamed the nest “Motel 7.”
“I saw them put their heads up to be fed,” Beller said. “That’s how I know they’re still there each day.”
Adam Lorentz, of the U.S. Coast Guard Aids to Navigation Team in Hampton Bays, said the team installed a satellite buoy in June when they found the nest blocking the beacon on the channel marker.
“We’re not allowed to disturb an active osprey’s nest, so that’s why we put a buoy next to it to keep the channel lit so mariners can safely navigate around it,” Lorentz said. “Our intention, after the nest becomes inactive, is to raise the light 2 or 3 feet so it doesn’t happen again.”
Bill Fonda, spokesman for the Department of Environmental Conservation Region One Office, said ospreys are under a classification of “special concern.” Ospreys were once considered an “endangered” species in the 1970s and “threatened” in the 1980s due to a decline in reproduction because of DDT-induced eggshell thinning. Since the ban of the insecticide in 1971, more eggs were able to hatch, according to the DEC’s website.
Fonda added that the DEC conducts annual ground and aerial surveys to document osprey nests in the New York, specifically the Adirondack Mountains and Long Island. The DEC was unable to provide the most recent results conducted on Long Island.
Beller was surprised the nest wasn’t removed because it posed a safety hazard to boaters.
“Since the osprey nest obscures the beacon, creating a hazard at night, I thought the Coast Guard would knock down the nest,” Beller said. “I was surprised to see that they installed a satellite buoy instead, allowing this endangered species to reproduce.”
Beller’s neighbor, Joseph Amoroso, recalls spotting the nest in February.
“It’s been there a while. She [the mother osprey] built a good foundation,” said Amorosa, 48, of Long Beach. “If you disturb that nest, she won’t come back. I see some boaters go by and get real close to look at it. I just hope no one disturbs it.”