An eye on Ospreys

by Sandy Garland with much help from Rémy Poulin (OFNC) and Bill Petrie (IPBO)

First photo from the newly installed webcam at Innis Point Bird Observatory

First photo from the newly installed webcam at Innis Point Bird Observatory

Plans to install a webcam on an Osprey nesting platform with a live feed to the Internet took a leap forward this spring. Although wireless service is still not reliable, we are able to see photos of the active nest, which is located within the Lac Deschênes-Ottawa River Important Bird Area.

Ospreys and antennas
This project had its roots in the 1960s and 70s, when the Communications Research Centre at Shirley’s Bay installed Osprey platforms on trees to keep the birds from building their nests on the antennas being used for research projects. Over the decades, both platforms and trees deteriorated, until finally, the last tree supporting an Osprey nest fell down.

IPBO to the rescue
The Innis Point Bird Observatory (IPBO) became involved at that point. IPBO volunteers decided to build an Osprey nesting platform that could be lowered for banding chicks and to install a camera for public education purposes.

In fall 2009, they erected the platform on a 10-m pole extending about 1.5 m into the bedrock. In 2012, Ospreys began territorial marking and nest building, and the first chick was successfully fledged in 2013.

Time for phase 2: adding the webcam
Last summer, the IPBO approached the OFNC to see if the club would be interested in collaborating on this project. As Rémy Poulin of the OFNC’s Birds Committee says, “The OFNC’s Board of Directors agreed that it fell in line with the club’s goals of promoting the appreciation of Canada’s natural heritage and cooperating with, and supporting, organizations with similar aims.” Nature Canada also agreed to participate, and the three organizations recently signed a memorandum of understanding.

The OFNC is contributing to the costs of purchasing, operating, and maintaining the equipment, and will be providing live feed on our website. Most of this money will come from the Laurie Consaul Bequest, which was generously donated to the OFNC in 2013. Laurie was a professional botanist and part of the natural history scene in Ottawa for decades. She took part in the first Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas and was a regional coordinator for the second one. She was also very involved in the Macoun Club and the Birds Committee. Laurie passed away in 2012 and the Board felt that supporting this project would be a very fitting tribute to her memory and a good use of her bequest money. The webcam will be known as the “Laurie Consaul OspreyCam” in her memory and in recognition of her contribution that made it possible.

IPBO volunteer, Peter, installing webcam on the movable nest platform

IPBO volunteer, Peter, installing webcam on the movable nest platform

What’s happening now and plans for 2015
IBPO volunteers installed the camera and it began operation on 20 April 2014. Currently, they are posting photos on the IBPO Facebook page and on Twitter (@InnisPointBO).

Accordng to Bill Petrie, “We are able to watch some video (with sound), but the Internet connection still needs some work.”

“We’ll be able to track the adults laying eggs and raising chicks,” he adds. “There will be a banding demonstration (date TBD) where people involved with this project will be able to see the nest and the chicks up close.”

Currently, the plan is to have live Internet feed embedded on the OFNC web site in time for the 2015 breeding season.

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