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Birds' pole position changes

To prevent a work disruption, a 30-foot pole that ospreys used for nesting last year will be moved.

February 08, 2007|By Alicia Robinson

Denizens of one of Newport Beach's most exclusive neighborhoods lost their home Wednesday, but they'll be getting a new one that offers more privacy.

Officials with the state Department of Fish and Game on Wednesday took down the nesting platform used by a pair of ospreys on Shellmaker Island so they can move it to a more secluded area that will be better for the birds.

The platform, atop a 30-foot pole, is where an osprey pair hatched babies in 2006. But the presence of the birds, which are protected by federal law, put a four-month halt to construction of the nearby Back Bay Science Center, a research and education facility for local, state and federal agencies.

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The pole likely will be moved to a spot about 400 yards from the old site within a week, Fish and Game wildlife biologist Jeff Stoddard said. Southern California Edison has offered to help move the pole.

A pair of ospreys — it's not clear whether it's the same pair from last year — has been stopping at the old nest to eat, but the move shouldn't disrupt them much, Stoddard said.

They'll be able to see the pole's new location easily, and they aren't tending any young yet. Stoddard said ospreys typically don't start nesting and hatching eggs until late March or April.

Newport Beach Assistant City Manager Dave Kiff said the move will help the birds by getting them farther from the new building, but it also will prevent another costly delay in the science center's construction.

The work stoppage in 2006 cost Newport Beach nearly $200,000.

The science center's total cost is now hovering at $8 million, with the addition of an administration wing paid for by the Department of Fish and Game as well as a new parking lot, landscaping and marsh restoration.

Most parts of the center are due to open in June, with the added wing slated for completion this fall, Kiff said.

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