Watch Live: Grand Lake cam captures majestic ospreys waiting for chicks to hatch
There exist in the Three Lakes region of Grand County majestic birds of prey that use the area strictly as a place to have and raise a family. The public can now, thanks to a technologically savvy Grand Lake resident, witness the daily life of these spectacular and sizeable raptors.
Ospreys have made their homes on many platforms around the Three Lakes, but it was Kent Roorda whose admiration of the creatures led him to set up a high-definition live camera to capture the birds’ most intimate moments that the public rarely sees.
The birds currently have three eggs waiting to hatch. And the live camera, which is being hosted on the Sky-Hi News website, will broadcast every moment.
“I created a nest near my home a few years ago following guidelines set forth by the U.S. Forest Service,” Roorda explained. “Since then, I’ve learned an incredible amount about the birds.”
There are two ospreys, a male and female, who occupy the nest, stationed on a platform constructed by Roorda at his home near Grand Lake. He has not named them, as he wants to ensure they are viewed as wild animals and not as pets, but a unique marking on the backs of their heads can positively identify each bird.
“It is by those markings that we know the same pair returns each year,” Roorda said.
Ospreys are a large bird classified with an average wingspan of between 59 to 70 inches. They can travel at speeds up to nearly 31 mph, and rarely walk on the ground. They are monogamous for life once they’ve found a mate.
Thenests wouldn’t exist without the help of Mountain Parks Electric and the U.S. Forest Service, Roorda explained. Those efforts prevent the birds from building their nests on top of utility poles, which could electrocute the birds and potentially cause power outages.
“The effort to build and relocate nests has been a huge success,” Roorda exclaimed.
Building and installing an osprey nest platform is not something just anyone should, or could, accomplish because of the many legal and other considerations, he said. But Roorda, a volunteer with the forest service,
Roorda has noticed over the years of watching the ospreys how dedicated the particular parents are to their chicks.
“Watching these osprey pairs hatch and raise their families offers lessons in tenacity and the will to survive,” Roorda explained. “From the time the parents mate to the time the male teaches the fledglings to fish, the parents do everything possible to ensure the family’s survival.”
In previous years, Roorda has watched as more than a foot of spring snow fell on top of the female but she continued on to faithfully incubate her eggs, supported by the male who brought fish to her and the hungry chicks.
“I’ve also noted that, whenever any egg hatches, the dedicated male is present and shows incredible curiosity and pride as each chick emerges,” he said. “I hope you’ll enjoy watching our ospreys raise their families and prosper in our environment.”
The three eggs were expected to begin hatching around June 1, so they are quite overdue.
You can watch every moment live at http://www.skyhinews.com/grand-lake-osprey-camera.
- Ospreys can be found all over the world. The ones we see in Grand County are only here for the spring, summer, and early fall, and every moment of their time here is dedicated to having and raising a family.
- Each spring, ospreys lay between one and three eggs. The process starts when a young male arrives in our area, and either builds or finds a nest that he hopes will attract a young female. After two single and available ospreys take a liking to each other, they will immediately begin mating. That usually takes place around April 15. After mating, they stay together for the rest of their lives. They only look for a new mate if their previous mate has died.
- About 10 to 15 days after mating, the female starts laying between one and three eggs. Each egg is laid about two days apart.
- After the eggs are laid, the pair incubates the eggs for an average of 34 days. When the female is sitting on and incubating the eggs, she often needs to take a break and get some exercise. When she’s ready, she calls out to the male, who sits in a nearby tree, and he comes to the nest and sits on the eggs while the female takes her break. Whether the female is sitting on the eggs, or taking care of the hatched chicks, she will call out to the male and he will quickly catch a fish and bring it to her if she is hungry.
- Osprey feed entirely on fish. If fish are difficult to find, then the youngest chick is vulnerable. All the chicks that have hatched in Kent Roorda’s nest have survived in past years.
- After the eggs are hatched, it takes approximately three months for the chicks to mature to the point where they can fledge and survive on their own. They grow quickly. Unlike many other birds, they return to their home nest for about a month after they learn to fly. During that time, they polish their flying skills and the adult male teaches them how to catch fish.
- Toward the end of September, the fledglings fly south without their parents. They stay there for around 18 months and continue to mature and hone their skills. Shortly after the fledglings leave the nest, the parents also leave and fly south for the winter. The next spring, the parents fly back to the same nest and start the process all over again.
- The osprey parents are constantly on watch for possible predators or threats, whether it’s a crow or a raccoon, or even a person or a moose walking under the nest. When they spot a mild threat, they will vocalize to scare off the threat. However, if a serious threat exists, they will vocalize in a more urgent way intended to alert all ospreys in the area. When other ospreys hear that vocalization, all of them come to the aid of the ospreys that need help. The threat is then chased away by multiple birds. The osprey pair in Roorda’s nest have learned to recognize him and his neighbors and don’t feel any threat when someone they know walks by.
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