Fishin' with Capt. Gus: Ospreys nesting

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Norman Wildlife Conservationists is a chapter of the North Carolina Wildlife Federation.
Its mission is to enhance and protect wildlife habitat in the Lake Norman area for all to enjoy. Among the many projects they are involved with and one of the most significant is the placement of osprey nesting platforms around the lake.
A few years ago, it was realized that the osprey was 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 NCWRC, Duke Power, and the Lake Norman Marine Commission.
Currently more than a dozen platforms have been positioned in shallow water, most in close proximity to an island and away from boat traffic.
Atop each pole is a large basket, which serves as a form or foundation for the nest to be built. 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. Because many of the osprey platforms are claimed by younger birds, 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 adjacent to the small island at the entrance to Mountain Creek. Another is built on the boat cover of a vessel sitting on the boat lift.
What’s amusing about this nest is that the birds are apparently getting more use out of the expensive boat than the owners are.
However, there are more expensive nesting locations on Lake Norman. One is built on the chimney spire of a multimillion dollar house on a point of land in a Mooresville gated community. Still another 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 might find it interesting to observe the nesting activity throughout the season. It is then that you’ll understand that in addition to rearing their young, ospreys are avid do-it-yourself birds that continuously bring new materials to the home. It is amazing to see the variety of materials they use to repair and increase the size of the nest.
Upcoming event
Children are invited to bring their parents to the Amazing Critter Cruise that will set sail at noon on Saturday, 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 understand and enjoy the amazing creatures that call Lake Norman home. For more information, call 704-332-5696.
Tips from Capt. Gus
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 of the Week: 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.
Catfishing is very good, in Mountain, Burton and Lucky creeks. For those targeting blue cats, use fresh cut fish and chicken parts for bait.
Schools of white perch are suspending in water from 20 to 30 feet deep.
The lake water is temperature is in the 70s and low 80s. The water level is about 1.8 feet below full pond on Lake Norman and 2.9 feet below on Mountain Island Lake.
Capt. Gus Gustafson of Lake Norman Ventures is an outdoor columnist and a full-time fishing guide on Lake Norman. Visit his web site,, or call 704-617-6812.