osprey cam

2014 News

Last But Certainly Not Least

July 29, 12:25 p.m.

All the good vibes being sent to the third chick appear to have paid off this morning as it took the big leap. It flew around a bit and settled on the nearby transmission tower for a while.

As of this writing, there is one on the same tower but tough to tell which one it is.

All in all, a positive development for the littlest one.

Final Word on Intervention

July 29, 4 p.m.

We receive a lot of emails about the osprey here at cam central.

Some make us smile, like the one telling us a 2nd grade class in New Hampshire used it this spring to learn about birds and journaled each day.

Some make us laugh, like knowing there are people who obviously have a computer screen dedicated strictly to our birds - at work! (You know who you are!!)  Laughing

But many are pleas for us to save the chicks.  From each other, from us humans who pollute the environment with balloon strings and plastic strips and straws and rubber gloves - all which can be found in the nest as of right now. 

And, of course, from the mother.

I recently got one along that line that really made me wonder about the whole role of humans and nature, and how the multimedia gift that these cams present affects that relationship.

I'll paraphrase, but in essence this person said that it was our duty to remove the mother "permanently" from the gene pool. 

Yup, they want us to kill her. "Humanely" of course. 

Where do I even begin? 

I guess with the obvious - we're not going to do any osprey executions anytime soon.

This person said it was "intensely disturbing" to watch the attacks and I couldn't agree more. Try having it happen outside your window. With sound - even if the windows are closed it can reach disturbing decibels. They're at it right now, in fact.

I literally turn to my left and see the nest - and I count that as a blessing, not a curse, but I get it. Really.

I also understand that you get attached to the birds and "how distressing it is to us." 

Want to get attached to them? Take a look at the cam in mid-February, when it's cold and windy and empty. You'll long for them then, trust me. The first moment we start seeing them up here around March is like having the corner of some giant gray, cold, miserable blanket lifted by the corner to give a glimpse of late July glory.

We're also attached to them because we miss deeply the person who helped start the nest and camera and maintained it until her untimely death at 41. Each time we see them, we think of her. I know SHE would be upset at what's going on. And trust me, no one misses her more during this deluge of emails, calls, tweets, etc., than me! 

But she certainly wouldn't even consider what was suggested.

And neither will we.

My correspondent thinks that our "hand's (sic) off policy does not reflect well on Woods Hole." But since Woods Hole is an area, not specifically this institution, with nests unseen by prying electronic eyes up and down the coast, I couldn't disagree more. Osprey are thriving here and that reflects well on Woods Hole. 

I take great solace in the wisdom of others involved in the world of osprey cam. They've been helpful in offering tips. And I'm happy to count the good folks at Montana Osprey Project in Missoula among those. Here, in part, is what they've posted about their cam.

"Ospreys are wild birds - they are not pets, and this is not a Disney movie. What we have set out to do with the cams is allow you a very intimate view of the trials and tribulations of (osprey) families. What comes with this is the good and sometimes the sad.

As you have all gathered by watching, learning to be an osprey is extremely hard and takes a long time. To put things in perspective, it is estimated that about 50-60% of all osprey chicks do not survive their first year of life. However, if they do survive their first year and figure out how to fish well on their own, their survival rates shoot up to as high as 85-90% per year after that. Since ospreys can live 15-20 years (still some breeding older than 25 years), a pair only has to produce two chicks that survive to breed on their own to replace them and maintain a stable population. Osprey populations can increase rapidly in some places, which indicates that those populations are producing many more chicks that survive than just the stable replacement level.

If you find watching the cams too upsetting, we are sorry and suggest that you stop watching. It is at our discretion to turn off the cams if the situation is really hard to see. Just keep the big picture in mind and remember that ospreys are adapted to a tough life and they are incredible birds. Enjoy the many happy moments and think positive thoughts during the rough spots."

Can't think of any better way to say it, so we'll let that stand as our policy.

We will strive to keep you informed, we will strive to keep things on the nest positive, we will continue to query Dr. Rob Bierregaard and others in times of human-induced issues (see balloon string). 

What we won't do is take nature into our own hands because some people find it tough to watch.

Another Fledgling

(July 28, 11 a.m.)

No rest for the osprey on the day of rest - or, it seems, for intrepid cam watchers!

We received reports on Sunday morning that a second bird had fledged. It went out and about, returning safely after a couple of hours in the area.

As of this writing, all three young are on the nest and a fish was delivered a short time ago. 

New Page Added - Nest Details

(July 25, 5 p.m.)

We've added a new page to the main menu called Nest Details to talk about the location, history, and other background information about the nest and cam.

First post is on the physical location of the nest, including a link to Google Maps showing exactly where it is. We hope that helps provide some context for viewers, especially to show some of the nearby areas where the birds have been perching, including our fledgling.

Check it out!

Fledgling Update

(July 25, 4:05 p.m.)

Our fledgling has made a few touch and gos, folks in the area are reporting.

It tried one late this morning, then went to a tower on a building at WHOI called Clark South. Then made another attempt about 2:30 p.m. before heading to a radio antenna about 100 yards northeast of the nest. It also did some loops in the vicinity, others believe, before settling back down on the radio antenna.

"Making progress," we're told.

We Have Liftoff!

(July 25, 10:15)

Great news from the nest this morning! We can confirm that one of the chicks has fledged.

Many cam watchers went to make coffee or take showers and missed it, much to their chagrin, but we do have reports that one flew off the nest - did not fall - sometime around 5:30 - 5:45 a.m. It took off from the left of the nest, which would be back toward the WHOI campus and softball field nearby.

One of our local fans, Jazzel, is at the nest physically right now and, God love her, she tromped through the overgrowth, briars, poison ivy, and grapevines surrounding the pole to make sure it was not injured or caught on the ground and she reports no sighting.

She also says she doesn't see it in the vicinity, but there are lots of places for a young osprey to hang out in our area, some close to the nest, that aren't easy to spy. 

Our experts tell us that fledglings may take up to three days to return to the nest after their initial flight, so we hope it's enjoying it's new-found freedom! Who knows, maybe after the grief it has put up with, maybe it gave an "I'm outta here!" chirp and is halfway to South America already!

We'll keep you posted!

The Main Concern: Mom is Not Very Motherly

(July 23, 8 p.m.)

So what is up with this mother, anyway? Good question, and one that has stumped many folks.

One of the biggest issues the Woods Hole Osprey Cam faces is that we do absolutely no actual osprey research here at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. If this was oyster or squid cam, we'd have instant answers for you all. We've recently been told that there are some cams or field sites where reseachers and resources are on site and/or can react in an instant based on their best judgement and expertise, or interact on a regular basis as per their protocol. And that happens for nests far from inquiring eyes of humans, we're told.

But we quite honestly don't have that capability. The cam was set up as a goodwill gesture (which we'll explain in a later post) to share the amazing things we on Cape Cod and the Islands are lucky to see daily. It is located in a completely overgrown location (we'll post a map soon) that is difficult to reach in the best of situations, and when we do need to access it for maintainance, it requires coordination, hiring a bucket truck, etc. 

So we rely on others to explain any behavior and get their advice on what to do, and when. That takes some time and much communication. However,  these folks are some of the world's most renowned experts in osprey and raptor behavior and are either located at, or have been afilliated with, some recognizable institutions. We trust their advice, and ask that you do too, even if it is difficult to do so at times.

But rest assured - we are asking questions constantly about this nest. And mom is a huge one.

In the case of what some of you are calling "Momzilla," apparently, the experts are as intrigued as you are. Perhaps it's genetics, perhaps it's environmental, they say. Some of you are speculating that it's being caused by toxins, but short of a toxicology report, that can't be proven and so goes in line with all the other ideas. Others wonder if the male has two nests he's supporting, stressing out this nest, and likely, the one no one can see.

In any case, all agree the female has never been a typical female.  From hatch she never or rarely brooded the nestlings, never shaded them from sun or rain.  As noted in the earlier post, the male has rarely been on the nest, except for very quick fish deliveries which the female rips from his talons and off he goes.  The males fish deliveries are not consistent, and the female does a lot of fishing for the nest, causing even more issues.

They all agree, however, that the young are thissss close to flying, and if they can do so successfully, then hold on for a little while, have a good shot at moving on to the next stage of their development. And that, we believe, is something that we are all hoping for.

Last updated: March 16, 2015