OSPREY REALITY TV
The birds are back in town! After a long break, osprey pair Josie and Elbert have returned for another nesting season along Alabama's Gulf Coast in Wolf Bay. The pair have been busy fixing their nest and are preparing for the arrival of this year's brood. Check in throughout the day and maybe you'll spot their first egg!
The high resolution camera provides a 24/7 live feed of the nesting ospreys. Previous seasons have seen the ospreys through hurricane force winds, a "white-out" of the camera caused by osprey poop and of course the daily drama of raising a brood of chicks. There is even an infrared component, which will allow fans to watch the nighttime activities of these incredible creatures.
WHY WOLF BAY?
Wolf Bay is an estuary where fresh water and salt water mix creating a biologically rich environment that supports an array of fish and wildlife. The waters of Wolf Bay flow into the Intracoastal Waterway and ultimately to the Gulf of Mexico, which support some 243 bird species – including the osprey.
The osprey – also known as the sea hawk or fish eagle – is the only North American raptor that feasts almost exclusively on live fish, making it one of nature’s most successful anglers – and an important indicator species for coastal and estuarine health.
Osprey populations rebounded after pesticides poisoned the birds and caused their eggshells to thin from the 1950s to the 1970s. Shoreline development and tree removal limited their natural nesting sites, so scientists have constructed platforms like the one at Orange Beach to provide a safe and sturdy location for osprey to nest and nurture their young.
"Ospreys tend to roost near electrical transformers, probably because the top is flat," said Rauf Bolden, director of IT, web development and mobile applications for the City of Orange Beach. "So to counter a raft of outages from the ospreys, Baldwin EMC installed poles with platforms in good locations, like the one at Wolf Bay, for the birds. It seems to work well."
The birds are still at risk as they face a potential food crisis as fisheries are in jeopardy.
The Nature Conservancy and its partners are working to restore vital coastal and estuarine habitats throughout the Gulf – oyster reefs, seagrass beds, sand dunes, coral reefs, marshes and bird areas. This work is critical for re-building Gulf fisheries that are essential to human communities and native wildlife like the osprey.
This project is funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation through The Nature Conservancy and the Alabama Coastal Foundation. Computer hardware and bandwidth supplied by the City of Orange Beach. Thanks to Baldwin EMC for the osprey platform and Harbor Communications for support to install the new camera.