Chesapeake Conservancy Welcomes Home Osprey Cam Stars Tom & Audrey
New infrared feature allows viewers to see the nest at night
Annapolis, MD – The Chesapeake Conservancy today announced the reunion of osprey cam stars Tom and Audrey for the 2016 season of the live-streaming webcam. it shows the daily lives of this osprey couple that have returned to Kent Island after their winter sojourn in South America. With their return to the Chesapeake, Tom and Audrey will begin building a new nest on their platform in preparation for raising this season’s brood of chicks.
The self-proclaimed “Crazy Osprey Family”, who owns the property where the cam is located, has reported an aerial battle between two ospreys, though not the pair on the platform. Cam observers also reported mating behavior on the platform.
This season, the osprey cam now includes infrared technology installed by the Crazy Osprey Family that allows users to see what is going on in the nest in total darkness. Infrared light is a wavelength of energy that is invisible to the human eye. The camera detects infrared energy (heat) and converts it into an electronic signal, which is then processed to produce a thermal image on the webcam.
Last year, the nest was fraught with drama. A new Tom, who fans dubbed “Calico Tom,” became Audrey’s new mate. The new couple laid three eggs that did not hatch. However, with the help of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Raptor Biologist, Craig Koppie, Tom and Audrey successfully adopted two foster chicks, which fans voted to name Maine and Montana. Later in the season, a visiting juvenile osprey, aptly named E.T., became a regular part of the nest.
“We want to thank the Crazy Osprey Family for allowing us to partner with them to share these magnificent birds with the world. Tom & Audrey are enormously helpful in drawing attention to the Chesapeake Conservancy’s mission and our work to protect and restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Last year, we had over one million visits to the webcam from all over the world,” Chesapeake Conservancy President & CEO Joel Dunn said. “We couldn’t ask for better ambassadors than Tom & Audrey to encourage people to get out and experience wildlife along the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. People can see these iconic birds throughout the Chesapeake in special places like Mallows Bay or the Middle Branch in Baltimore.”
“Part of our mission at the Chesapeake Conservancy is to strengthen the connection between people and the watershed, because when you appreciate something, you help take care of it. We hope that viewers of the osprey cam will go on to support measures such as Program Open Space, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and the designation of Mallows Bay-Potomac River as the first National Marine Sanctuary in the Chesapeake—programs that provide important habitat for wildlife.”
The Chesapeake Conservancy hosts another live wildlife webcam featuring peregrine falcons living on the 33rd-floor ledge of the Transamerica skyscraper at 100 Light Street in downtown Baltimore. The public can view the peregrine falcons at http://www.chesapeakeconservancy.org/peregrine-falcon-webcam.
In addition, the Chesapeake Conservancy is currently crowdfunding to launch a third wildlife webcam featuring a great blue heron rookery on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. This rookery has been home to 50 herons for the past 10 seasons. For more information, please visit gofund.me/6cru5qxg.
The Chesapeake Conservancy extends our special thanks to Skyline Technology Solutions for managing the video stream and installing and setting up the camera, Investigative Options Inc. for maintaining the camera, the Shared Earth Foundation for its financial support, and “The Crazy Osprey” family who generously host the platform and equipment and write the blog.
Found on every continent except Antarctica, osprey (Pandion haliaetus) are one of the Chesapeake’s most amazing birds for a number of reasons. They migrate thousands of miles each year to and from Central and South America, mate for life, and return to the same spot year after year, despite spending the winter apart from each other.
After an almost 90% decline in population from 1950-1970, osprey populations have rebounded due in large part to conservation efforts and the banning of DDT. Osprey can be a valuable indicator species for monitoring the long-term health of the Chesapeake Bay because their diet consists almost entirely of fish and they are sensitive to many environmental contaminants. To make sure these magnificent Bay residents continue to thrive, we are working to ensure that river corridors remain protected and that the Chesapeake Bay can support abundant fish populations.
To learn more about osprey and the Bay’s other amazing creatures use our National Wildlife Refuge App, or visit one of our region’s many National and State parks and refuges to see them in the wild!
Learn more about osprey with our frequently asked questions and fun facts here.