Teamwork helps osprey keep their home near Discovery Middle School in Alexandria

In the past four years, a pair of osprey have built their nest on an unused satellite tower south of the Discovery Middle School.

Osprey Platform going up.jpg
A new osprey platform is raised near Discovery Middle School in Alexandria on May 7, 2021. (Contributed photo by Viola Riggle)

Four groups of people worked together to have an osprey platform installed at the Discovery Middle School’s Outdoor Learning Spaces in Alexandria this spring.

In the past four years, a pair of osprey have built their nest on an unused satellite tower south of the Discovery Middle School. Last fall after the birds left, the nest was taken down, along with a piece of equipment on the tower.

The president of Prairie Lakes Audubon Chapter, Viola Riggle, lives close by the Outdoor Learning Spaces at Discovery and realized there was going to be a problem the coming spring for the osprey. She worked with her Prairie Lakes Audubon team to see about putting up a platform in the school area for the osprey.

Riggle contacted Lukas Gotto, vice president of the Youth Outdoor Education Foundation, a group working to restore and enhance the natural areas in the Outdoor Learning Spaces at Discovery. He made the necessary contacts to get the needed permissions to put up a platform for the osprey.

This spring the osprey returned to Alexandria in early April only to discover that the piece taken down from the satellite tower prevented them from rebuilding in that same location. They tried their best to make a nest on the light poles in the softball field area at DMS. The many sticks lying below a number of the poles was a sign of their efforts, according to Riggle.


Meanwhile Jeff Pokorney, an Alexandria Area High School teacher, was contacted and agreed to have his wildlife studies class make a platform for the osprey. Ben Eckhoff, program coordinator for Prairie Lakes Audubon, provided the design for the platform. Eckhoff also contacted ALP Utilities to purchase a pole and get their help to install the pole with the platform.

The platform was installed on the pole by the high school class early on the week of May 3. The next Friday, May 7, the ALP Utilities’ trucks and crew came to move the pole with the platform out to the ball fields under the guidance of Josh Waldorf and Scott Deitz. ALP operations managers.

A hole was dug in the southwest corner of the Outdoor Learning Spaces at Discovery. The pole and platform were slowly and carefully raised up and moved into the hole. Another class of wildlife studies students came to observe the platform and pole being put up.

The osprey finally did succeed in making a nest on a light pole in the northwest corner by the softball fields. The female had started to lay eggs before the platform and pole were installed, so those involved in the project thought that the platform would not likely be used this year.

The osprey, however, had other ideas.

About two weeks after the platform was installed, the osprey abandoned their nest on the light pole. They have been spotted on the new platform with sticks being collected for a new nest.

"At this time, we don’t know if they will actually lay eggs yet this season," Riggle said in a June 2 email to the newspaper. "Only time will tell, as we keep an eye on their activity. They definitely like the area by the big satellite tower."

Riggle said the platform project was truly a team effort.


"Prairie Lakes Audubon saw a need and decided to fund the project; Alex high school’s wildlife studies students built the platform; ALP Utilities found a pole and provided their expertise and equipment to put it up; along with all the schools’ administration and maintenance staff input to allow this project to come to fruition" she said. "It was a big win-win for all involved. We hope the osprey will see it that way, too."

What To Read Next
Get Local