Marion High School sits just outside of town, overlooking agricultural fields and Middle Branch River, which – with its many feeder streams – winds its way through the Osceola County countryside. A large mill pond near town holds a nice supply of fish.
“The osprey will drop fish right on the football field,” laughed Beth Robb, the Marion High School principal.
Marion High School had a historic problem with a pair of osprey nesting on its football stadium lights. Together, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Consumers Energy and Marion High School formed a plan to provide the osprey with a different location to call home.
“Everyone was very excited about this project,” said DNR wildlife biologist Erin Victory, who worked with Consumers Energy and the high school to relocate the nesting site. “The school really loves having the osprey, but we just need to adjust the location a bit.”
The nest was removed near the end of August and kept at Marion High School while the school's shop class started building the osprey's new home. The birds had one chick that had already fledged, or learned to fly, so they weren't reliant upon the nest anymore.
On Oct. 25, Consumers Energy dug a 9-foot-deep hole, and the high school students and their teacher, Adam Cole, attached the osprey platform they built to a telephone pole donated by Consumers Energy. The Consumers Energy crew then set the 70-foot pole in the ground.
That was the easy part. The nest then needed to be placed on the platform. Luckily, Consumers Energy employees are used to working at such heights and were able to place the 3-foot-wide stick nest onto the platform.
The osprey are currently in the southern United States, headed to Central and South America, but will be back in Michigan come spring for breeding season.
Marion High School, the DNR and Consumers Energy are all anxious to see if the pair of osprey will return to Marion High School, as they had annually, just in time for track season to enjoy their new high-rise apartment.