Players looking for a birdie next year at the Park City Golf Club should head to the fifteenth green.
City Hall, which owns and manages the municipal golf course, and Rocky Mountain Power at the end of October installed an artificial nest designed for osprey birds. The nest is situated just behind the green on the fifteenth hole, close to the south shore of a water hazard. The nest is visible from S.R. 224 as drivers pass Hotel Park City.
The pole is approximately 40 feet tall. At the top is a platform for an osprey to build a nest. Sticks for the birds to use were put onto the platform, which is made of redwood and measures two feet by six feet.
The osprey birds have left for the winter and are expected to return to the Park City area in late March or early April.
Craig Sanchez, who is the manager of the golf course, said it is the first such nest installed in Park City. He said an artificial nest like the one installed at the golf course is safer for the birds than power poles, where osprey birds sometimes locate their nests.
"We certainly embrace wildlife at the course. We try to do everything we can to accept that responsibility," Sanchez said.
Sanchez said he sees osprey birds frequently in the vicinity of the water hazard, sometimes in pine trees. They hunt for fish in the water, he said.
Osprey birds that build nests on power poles could cause fires or electrical interruptions if they are on or touch a line, the state Division of Wildlife Resources says.
The division says osprey bird nests typically are built between ten and 60 feet off the ground, and they are normally located close to or above water. The nests sometimes are used over a span of years. The division calls osprey birds "a rare summer resident at mountain lakes" and in the area of the Green River in Utah.
"It is much less common in Utah than it formerly was, and nesting of this species in Utah is now geographically much reduced, being limited mainly to the margins of Flaming Gorge Reservoir," the Division of Wildlife Resources says in an entry about the osprey bird.
The division says osprey birds normally eat fish, and they also feed on vertebrates and sometimes crustaceans.
Both parents tend to young birds, and the hatchlings spend between 48 and 59 days preparing to leave the nest, according to the Division of Wildlife Resources.
Bob Walters, who coordinates what is known as the watchable wildlife program for the division, built the platform while Rocky Mountain Power provided the personnel and equipment to install the pole. Walters said one nesting pair of osprey birds use a platform.
"That's just what they're looking for," Walters said.
There are between 50 and 75 similar poles outfitted with nesting platforms in the state, he said, including a few close to the Jordanelle Reservoir, the Echo Reservoir and the Rockport Reservoir.