Osprey Nest
Resident Osprey Nest

Teaching and learning goes on day in and day out at Mesa College, with many students, staff, faculty and visitors unaware that high above the campus, atop a light over the soccer courts on the east side of the college, a resident pair of Ospreys call Mesa College home.

Their nest is actually built atop a man-made metal basket, hand-made by Mesa athletics and facilities staff. There’s a history behind that, and the story goes like this…

Mesa Osprey flying
Mesa Osprey perched

In the spring of 2001 a pair of rare birds of prey began nesting atop a light pole at the campus football stadium. They even started a family there. Out of concern for the pair, Facilities Services staff and the Physical Education/Athletics Department agreed to keep the Osprey’s light pole dark.

Then in June, they got a call from the State Department of Fish and Game (DFG). “It is extremely rare to find a nest in San Diego,” DFG representative David Mayer said. While Ospreys are not on the endangered list, at the time they were a bird of “special concern,” with only three nests of the bird of prey in San Diego County.

As deans are wont to do, Athletics Dean Dave Evans found himself in the middle of a dilemma – the safety of student/athletes and spectators versus the safety of rare birds. Mesa’s resourceful facilities staff came up with the solution, which was quickly approved by Dean Evans.

In late fall of 2001, Facilities Services staff Robert Renfro, Angelo Pellegrini, and Jason and Gene Botticelli over the course of a few weeks constructed and installed a 250-pound nest out of metal grating and piping.

Using a large crane, Pellegrini climbed the 60-foot light pole to install it. The nest sits about nine feet above the light, is eight feet tall, and measures seven feet in diameter.

The nesting platform was now high above the lights -- and not a safety concern to the birds or the DFG -- and the lights came back on for Olympian players and their fans.

The Osprey quickly took to their new digs.

“This collaborative effort was a win-win situation for everyone,” Evans declared.

During late afternoons, early evenings, the low-flying Osprey often cruise the length of the campus. With a wingspan of 54 to 72 inches, the loud-chirping brown and white birds are hard to miss. Fish eaters, they are thought to fly west to the mouth of the San Diego River in search of prey, and often bring their catch home for the kill, which explains the fish carcasses sometimes found by athletes in fields around the nest.

Since then, the ospreys have called Mesa home, presenting one, two or sometimes even three chicklets, usually around Mother’s Day.

osprey nest
Watch the YouTube video
See More Photos from UT San Diego