Wildlife Webcams’ Stars Usher in Spring on the Chesapeake
Three Eggs so Far for Peregrine Falcons; Audrey, the Osprey, Has Returned to Kent Island; and Great Blue Herons Have Rebuilt Their Nests on the Eastern Shore
Annapolis, MD – The vernal equinox signals the end of winter and the ushering in of warmer weather, budding flowers and the long-awaited return of many migratory birds to the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Several famous birds have made their return to view on Chesapeake Conservancy’s three wildlife webcams, made possible by a partnership with explore.org and generous property hosts. The cams feature the osprey couple called “Tom and Audrey,” the peregrine falcon couple called “Boh and Barb” and the great blue heron couple called “Rell and Eddie.”
“There is an old Chesapeake adage that our osprey return to the bay on St. Patrick’s Day. This year, Audrey nailed it, returning from her winter sojourn on March 17, 2023,” Chesapeake Conservancy Communications Specialist Michael Bowman said. “Though the past few years have been filled with ups and downs, we can always count on wildlife webcams to uplift our spirits. As a new year and season begin, we’re ready to once again delve into the lives of these beautiful birds and appreciate how important the natural world is to our well-being. Thank you to our partners at explore.org and the property hosts for helping us share these iconic species with millions of viewers worldwide.”
All three webcams can be accessed at www.chesapeakeconservancy.org/webcams/
Peregrine Falcon Cam
The peregrine falcon family nests on a ledge of a skyscraper on the 33rd floor located at 100 Light Street in downtown Baltimore, MD. This building has been a nesting site for peregrine falcons for over 35 years and has been a key component in the species’ recovery. Barb and Boh have started this season strong, with three eggs laid on March 17, 19 and 22. Barb tends to lay four eggs in a season.
Last year, Barb laid four eggs over the span of a week in mid-March. After a month of incubation, all four eyasses hatched between April 24 and April 26. The four eyases were banded on May 16, 2022, by raptor biologist Craig Koppie, with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Chesapeake Bay Field Office.
The osprey cam, located on Kent Island at the home of the “Crazy Osprey Family,” displays the daily lives of Tom and Audrey. In past years, Audrey returned to the nest in mid-March, with Tom about a week later. This year, Audrey returned to the nest on March 17, as confirmed by Mrs. Crazy Osprey Man. Audrey and cam viewers now await Tom’s return.
Viewers may recall that 2022 was a very dramatic and heavy season for Tom and Audrey. Though both ospreys returned in mid-March, Audrey took a leave of absence from the nest starting April 4. In her absence, a female visiting osprey dubbed “New Lady” began making appearances on the nest. Just a few days later, on April 8, Audrey returned to the nest and kicked off “The New Lady” after a brief scuffle. Audrey then laid three eggs between April 19 and April 25. However, Audrey then took another leave of absence from the nest, leaving Tom on incubation and guarding duties.
On April 29, an osprey intruder landed on the nest and broke one of the eggs. Though Tom chased the intruder away, the broken egg attracted a crow, which ate one of the other eggs. Then, on May 1, a crow broke open the remaining egg leaving the osprey nest empty.
Following the loss of their first clutch, Audrey laid additional eggs on May 31 and June 3. After a month of incubation, a chick hatched on July 8, and the second egg was deemed nonviable. Unfortunately, the lone chick expired unexpectedly on July 17.
Great Blue Heron Cam
The property on the Eastern Shore, where the webcam is located, hosts anywhere between 10 and 12 nests, with a few in view of the camera. The featured herons from one of the nests are named “Rell and Eddie.” The camera went live in early February following the return of several great blue herons to the rookery. Thanks to the generosity of explore.org, a second cam has been installed, offering more views into the rookery. In previous years, the herons of the colony laid their eggs in late March and early April.
In 2022, the herons returned in early March. It’s believed the herons laid their eggs in late March, with an incubation period of 26 – 30 days, as eggshells were discovered on the property in late April. Though it was a spotty season since the herons were elusive, the property owner informed us that the herons started to fledge from the rookery in early June.
UPDATED: This press release was updated and republished after Barb laid her third egg on 3/22.