Friday, July 30, 2010

Empty Nest

All of the young have fledged, left the nest, today. Of course, they will be back and forth for awhile as explained in the earlier blog. Next week we will work on adjusting the camera so we can get a wider field of view of the movements of the young and adult ospreys.

We want to thank Katie for keeping up the Blog and for all her hard work on getting the webcam project up and running along with our other sponsors. Today is Katie's last day at Deer Flat NWR. She is headed for Bear River NWR on the north shores of Great Salt Lake. We wish her luck and God's speed in her future endeavors. rcc

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

First Flights

It looks like the first of the babies has flown the coop! I Monday July 26th I noticed only two babies in the nest. The third was on a short pole just below the nest.

Since the young osprey are adult size now, its much harder to tell them apart. The young have much more white/tan mottling on their backs. Adults have a solid dark brown across their backs. And, even though they are almost ready to fly and start fishing, the young rarely feed themselves. If you see one bird feeding another, you are seeing one adult and one young.

This is an exciting time to watch the nest. All the young birds will begin to take short flights soon. The adults will leave in about 4 to 6 weeks to fly to their wintering grounds in Centeral and South America. The young will hang out till the end of September before they start their migration.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Almost Time to Fly!

The time is fast approaching when the young will begin to take their first flights. They are about 50 days old and should begin to fly between 55 and 60 days.

I was just watching the cam and saw one of the young revving up his wing muscles by flapping. Birds have two very large breast muscles (think chicken breasts) that power flight. Instead of a flat sternum or breast bone like humans have, birds have a protruding ridge called a keel. (Like the keel of a boat.) Muscles anchor to this keel and the wing bones. Young birds do not have developed breast muscles and spend time flapping to help them get in shape. All of the young birds will begin to flap a lot.

Its also getting hard to tell adults from young in the nest. Sometimes the young still lay down: the adults almost never lay down.

One clue to watch for: the adults are still feeding the young and will continue to do so for another month or so. As soon as the young birds start flying, they will also begin learning how to fish. No doubt they already scan the water from their nest.

I hope you are enjoying the cam. Please email if you have any questions or comments. We are looking for people to help write more blog updates. I will be ending my position in two weeks and will no longer be able to update the blog....

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Hummingbird WebCam!

Check out this great black-chinned hummingbird camera!

We have black-chinned hummingbirds in Idaho too, but this cam is amazing.

Have a great day and a safe 4th!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Osprey Videos: intruder and babies!

I just wanted to alert everyone to two cool clips of our osprey nest.

By clicking the ARCHIVE button on the webcam main page you can see adorable footage of the babies. Or you can click this link

To see footage of another osprey trying to land at the nest click here: The parents are really calling, makes me wish we had sound too ;-) I think the bird that was trying to land could be a young from last years nest. Young birds sometimes return to the nest where they were born. I did some research and wasn't able to find if young returned to the nest site: I guess it will remain a mystery.

Growing Babies

The young osprey are about 20 to 25 days old and growing very fast. Both parents are fishing to keep up with the vigorous appetites. At this time the young have more than tripled their size since hatching. They are loseing their soft downy coat and growing more adult-like feathers. The tail and flight feathers are beginning to grow in too.

During the nesting season sticks blow out of the nest or fall overboard. In order to maintain a strong nest fo the growing chicks, one of the adult osprey (presumably the male) continues to bring sticks to the nest site.

Keep watching as the young continue to grow and be even more active. Also look out for 'poop bombs'! The young osprey are now old enough to deficate or poop off the rim of the nest. They back up to the edge and let it fly.

Check out the photo of an adult osprey eating fish. Timm took this photo and sent it to the osprey cam email at Thanks Timm

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

3 Baby Osprey!

Thanks to a report from an Osprey-cam viewer.... I can confirm there are 3 chicks in the nest.

Photos to come soon!

Monday, June 7, 2010

There are at least 2 babies!

Just a quick update, as the Refuge is very busy preparing for our BioBlitz Festival and Kid's Fishing Day Celebrations.

We have confirmed sightings of at least two osprey nestlings. The female spends quite a bit of time feeding the young. She will rip off small pieces of fish and carefully hold it near the young. It is up to the nestlings to grab the fish.

The young osprey are covered in brown/tan down. I encourage you all to visit the nest in person this weekend. (If you are local, of course.) If you are from out of town, I would love to hear from you. I often wonder who is watching the Osprey cam. It would be neat to make a list of all the states and even countries that watch the cam.

Email the Osprey cam at

Here are some photos of the osprey bringing home dinner. Both photos were taken by Jodi Darling. Great shots Jodi!

Thursday, June 3, 2010


While I have not seen the babies, the both osprey parents are behaving like there are babies in the nest. Watch closely and please email if you seen the young.

From Birds of North America:

Figure 4. Osprey chicks usually hatch sequentially, often up to 4–5 days apart, giving older chicks an advantage when food is limited. Photo by D. Schmidt from Schmidt 2001, used with permission.

An awesome fact to remember: the young osprey will be 90% full grown less than 30 days after hatching! Osprey fledge or first begin flying at about 55 to 60 days old.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Celebrate Biodiversity: BioBlitz 2010 & Kids’ Fishing Day at Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge

This year Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge is combining two great events in one: BioBlitz and Kid’s Fishing Day!

The public is invited to participate in the Refuge’s 5th annual BioBlitz Festival on Saturday June 12th from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm at the Refuge Visitor Center. This free family event includes guided boat trips to net fish on Lake Lowell; bird banding; guided nature walks; and insect-collecting expeditions. Visitors can also view live birds of prey, fish, and reptiles; learn to identify insects at the Bug Tent; learn how to draw wildlife; visit interactive exhibits from wildlife-related organizations in Idaho; participate in kids’ crafts and activities; and explore the Refuge through a photo scavenger hunt. All guided events require pre-registration.

A BioBlitz is a 24-hour rapid survey of biological diversity. On June 11th and 12th, local scientists, naturalists, and volunteers will comb Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge to find and identify as many different species of plants and animals as possible. Although BioBlitzes have been held across the country, this is Idaho’s only one!

Photo by: Robin Peterson

This year’s BioBlitz is being held on Free Fishing Day, so bring your pole to Gotts Point for some fishing! From 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, kids can learn about fish biology, fishing ethics, and water safety. Visitors will have a chance to practice casting and rigging and then test their newly-learned skills by fishing in Lake Lowell! Fishing poles will be available to borrow if needed.

BioBlitz will be at the Refuge Visitor Center; the entrance road is located at the corner of Indiana and Roosevelt in Nampa. Kids’ Fishing Day will be at Gotts Point at the west end of Greenhurst. A map, directions, and a schedule of festival events (see below) are available at To sign up for one of the guided activities or for more information, call the Refuge Visitor Center at (208) 467-9278 or email

BioBlitz Schedule of Guided Events: Saturday June 12th
9:00am Boat trip to net fish
10:00 Boat trip to net fish
10:30 Bird Walk
11:00 Boat trip to net fish
11:00 Plant walk
11:30 Photography walk
12:00 Bird Walk
1:00 Photography walk
All guided events require pre-registration

Long awaited update!

Wow! I’m embarrassed at how long it’s been since I have updated the blog! Spring means Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge is field trip central, we have hosted more than 1,400 students and parents at the refuge since I last wrote. Plus, I am working full tilt on our big summer party: BioBlitz Festival 2010! More on that later…

If you are worried about missing out on the Osprey, don’t fret. Since I last wrote the nest is pretty much status quo. Female incubates the eggs, male hunts fish, he brings home dinner, she accepts the fish-flies off and eats, returns and they switch places again.

BUT! Today is the day! Day 36! If my calculations are correct I except the eggs to hatch today. With the spring cold weather, we will have to wait and see. I am watching closely to see if the female changes her behavior. For the first week of life, the young osprey are not able to keep themselves warm (thermoregulate). The female will still sit tightly on the nest, especially on cold windy days like today, and keep the young warm. Look for feeding behavior: both parents will feed the young.

Our awesome partners, Fiberpipe Internet Services and Gem State Communications have had their hands full keeping the wireless and solar panels up and running during this wet, cold and windy spring. We have another maintenance visit scheduled for June 1st. After that, the cam should be up and running during daylight hours.

If you want to see the osprey in person, there is no better day to visit than June 12th. See the next post and celebrate biodiversity.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Spring winds and Nest happenings!

April is usually Idaho’s windiest month, and this April is no exception. With sustained winds of 15 to 20mph and gusts of 35mph our ospreys are hanging tight to the nest.

The wind also affects our camera feed and the steadiness of the camera. The best times to check are from 10:00am to 3:00pm MST. Even if there is cloud cover, there is generally enough juice to run the camera. We hope to add another solar panel and a timer sometime in the next 10 days. The additional solar panel will catch the morning sun and the timer will turn off the system at night and save energy.

As for the nest: the female continues to sit tight to the nest. If she laid the first egg on 4/22, I would predict she has 3 eggs by now. According to the Birds of North America, osprey lay 1 egg every 1 to 3 days depending on food availability and the condition of the female. Established osprey pairs lay between 3 and 4 eggs total.

Food for Thought: A female osprey weighs 1,850 grams or just over 4 pounds. Each egg is about 3.6% of her body mass. In less than 2 weeks a female osprey loses 14.4% of her body weight. That’s like a 150lbs human dropping to 128lbs to 2 weeks!! The female continues to lose weight through the incubation and nestling periods. Male osprey weigh about 1,460 grams. Like most raptors, females outweigh the males by up to a third.

Baling Twine!

It’s been an exciting couple of days for the osprey pair and not necessarily in a good way.

On Saturday, the refuge received phone calls and emails that the female osprey was entangled in bailing twine and caught in the nest. Volunteers at the visitor center watched as the female struggled to move around in the nest. Fortunately, within an hour the female was able to free herself!

A refuge visitor took these some great photos on Saturday. An osprey (presumably the female) with twine attached to one leg.

Both osprey on the nest. There is quite a bit of baling twine in the nest. These photos were taken by Jodi Darling, a local resident and frequent osprey observer. Well done Jodi!

Ospreys have an affinity for collecting baling twine to use as nesting materials. This excerpt from the Raptor View Research Institute gives a glimpse into the problem.

Baling Twine Project Through monitoring, we have encountered a serious, rather unexpected hazard to area ospreys. Baling twine is a polypropylene rope used to tie bales of hay, and it often gets left in fields after ranchers open the bales to feed livestock. Ospreys apparently go to great lengths to collect baling twine and line their nests with it: We have found baling twine in nearly every nest located in our study area. This results in a big problem, since the chicks and even the adults can easily get tangled in it. In some areas it kills more than 10 percent of the chicks before they fledge, as well as some of the adults. An osprey nest that blew down in a wind storm last spring contained more than a quarter of a mile of baling twine!”
The Raptor View Research Institute also has a great pamphlet about osprey and baling twine. View it at:

Friday, April 23, 2010

Observations and Questions from a Viewer

10:50 a.m. - Both the male and the female are on the nest. The wind is blowing quite a bit.
10:53 a.m. - The female has settled on the nest, the male still standing on the edge. The male is quite a bit smaller than the female, or so it seems.
11:00 a.m. - The web cam is doing a great job at keeping the picture as clear as possible with as hard as the wind is blowing. The male flew off. What an amazing site. All he had to do was stretch out his wings and let the wind take him away.

Have the eggs hatched yet? I haven't seen any fledglings in the hour or so I've been watching this morning.

The nest status:
Since their return on 3/29/10 the pair have been hard at work building the nest.

On 4/22/10 we observed the female laying down tightly in the nest. This is a good indication that she has an egg or will soon be laying an egg. It is possible, that the very strong winds are causing her to act this way. Time will tell.

We expect the osprey to lay eggs very soon, if they haven't already. Incubation usually begins after the first egg is laid. Some birds, like burrowing owls do not begin incubation until almost all of the eggs are laid.

Both sexes incubate, but female generally does most of the incubation. Female nearly always incubates at night. Male usually provides female with all food during this period; female takes fish to nearby perch and feeds there; male generally incubates while female feeds, but will initiate incubation independent of food transfers.

It takes about 36 days for osprey eggs to hatch. Check out the color on those eggs! Not your average egg color!

This information and photo is from the Birds of North America Series. To learn more, click the osprey info button while you are watching the cam.

Monday, April 12, 2010

One step closer…

Thanks for sticking with us.

We are closer to our goal of bringing you a wonderful view into the Osprey nest at Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge. The camera is up, the television in the Visitor Center is up, the website is up and the Osprey have returned and are building their nest. We are waiting on a little more sunshine before the camera will be fully up and streaming live video to our website and television in the Visitor Center. If you don’t live in the Treasure Valley in Idaho, we have had a cold, wet, and gray spring. The video feed will be intermittent until the batteries are fully charged by the sun. Please check back on a regular basis.

The Osprey-cam Website:

If you just can’t wait to see the Osprey, come and visit us! Our nature trail takes visitors near the nest site. Plus you will be able to watch the Osprey through our spotting scope and maybe on television from the Visitor Center. The visitor center is open Monday-Friday from 8:00am to 4:00pm and Saturday from 10:00am to 4:00pm. The Visitor Center entrance is on the corner of Indiana Rd. and Roosevelt Rd.

Here are the directions from Boise.
Take Exit 33A (west-bound) or Exit 33 (east-bound) off of I-84.
After exiting the freeway, head west on Highway 55/Karcher Road.
Follow Karcher Road about 3.5 miles to Lake Avenue.
Turn left onto Lake Avenue and drive about 2.5 miles to the stop sign at Roosevelt Avenue.
Turn right onto Roosevelt Avenue.
At Indiana Avenue at the top of the hill, turn left into the refuge and follow the road to the Visitor Center

Please email with any questions.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Osprey are Back!

Thanks for your patience. We have been hard at work to try and get our Osprey-cam up and running. As some of you may know we are almost there!
The osprey arrived from their wintering grounds in South America on March 29th. I saw one bird on the nesting platform. No birds were observed the rest of the week. However, by the weekend, both osprey were present at the nest site and working to rebuild their nest.

The nesting platform is located near the Visitor Center at Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge on Lake Lowell, Nampa, Idaho. A nesting platform on this site was established more than 10 years ago, and the osprey use it almost every year. They seem to like this platform because it is tall and over the water. The camera is attached to a perching pole about 100yds away from the nesting platform.

Currently, the camera is up but we do not have our website up and running just yet. The camera is run with solar energy and we are still working to fully charge the batteries. The video is static much of the time. Hopefully it will be fixed soon and you all will be the first to know.

Here is a link to some footage captured over the weekend. We anticipate the wind to calm down soon. Enjoy! mms://

To learn more about Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge visit our website at:

Please send questions and comments to

Osprey-cam information

The Friends of Deer Flat Wildlife Refuge
Osprey Web-Cam at
Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge

What is the Web-Cam Project?

The web-cam project will promote interest in the osprey, year to raise and care for their young.

The Friends of Deer Flat Wildlife Refuge will install the web-cam at the known osprey nest site, near the refuge visitor center, host a website and place a television in the visitor center at Deer Flat with live-streaming video, and create educational materials for classroom use. Mid-March is the target date for installation of the web-cam, so that it will be up and running by the time the osprey return to the nest site.

Who Does the Web-Cam Project Benefit?

With an up close view into an osprey nest, refuge visitors and people from all over the world will learn how ospreys raise their young. A companion blog for the website will allow people to find out about osprey natural history, the events at the nest and ask questions about osprey, Lake Lowell and Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge.

Local schools, through field trips and website viewing, will benefit from a new opportunity to link technology with biology in their own backyard. Osprey educational materials will help foster an appreciation of the natural world and encourage students to go outside. We anticipate over 10,000 people will view the webcam this spring.

How Can You Help?

The Friends are partnering with Katie McVey, an AmeriCorps member serving at Deer Flat; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and Fiberpipe Internet and Network Solutions to get the Web-Cam project up and running. Local businesses are helping out too! Wild Birds Unlimited, Roots Rents, Bird House & Habitat, and Cabela’s are all lending a hand.
We will need volunteers of all types and financial support to make this project a lasting success.

Osprey-cam seeks volunteers! become an…

Osprey Observer: watch the webcam.
Report interesting behaviors, exciting happenings and screen captures to

Osprey Enabler: donate and support the webcam.
This spring Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge received a modest grant which allowed this Osprey-cam to become a reality. We need continued financial support to keep the webcam and blog up and running. Please consider donating to the Friends of Deer Flat Wildlife Refuge a 501(c)3 non-profit group.

Ask about other ways you can help!

Katie McVey
AmeriCorps Volunteer
Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge

Bob Christensen
Friends of Deer Flat Wildlife Refuge

Donations can be sent to:

Friends of Deer Flat: Webcam
13751 Upper Embankment Rd
Nampa, ID 83686

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Starting off on the right foot... err... talon

Welcome! More information to come as we plan and prepare to install our first webcam in mid-March 2010.

Stay tuned!