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