Tune into the Osprey Cam and you might catch a glimpse of an osprey dad-to-be returning to a nest at University of Florida’s Alfred McKethan Stadium. He’s often carrying fresh fish from Lake Alice or Bivens Arm, which his mate gobbles up on the spot.
Ospreys have been nesting on the stadium’s 100-foot-tall light fixtures for years, but this is the first time a camera has captured a pair’s comings and goings. The live stream is available on UF department of wildlife ecology and conservation website.
“The Osprey Cam gives us a ‘bird’s-eye view’ into the lives of these fish-eating birds,” said Mark Hostetler, professor of wildlife ecology and conservation with the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
Hostetler was inspired to install the wildlife camera after he saw other researchers using the technology to observe a royal albatross nest in New Zealand. The UF Osprey Cam is designed to give the public a better awareness and understanding of osprey behavior, he said.
For example, viewers will notice how the ospreys don’t eat or defecate in their nest, an impressive structure build of tree branches, Spanish moss and pine cones. “We’re finding they are very fastidious about their home,” Hostetler said.
The pair were first spotted building their nest on Jan. 28, and Hostetler expects to see eggs laid over the next few weeks.
Ospreys are large birds of prey native to North America and are known for nesting in high, human-made structures. The live stream features the pair nesting on the right-field lights, Hostetler said.
Running cables and other equipment up to the nesting area took some trouble-shooting, Hostetler said. “Putting a camera one hundred feet in the air is no small feat. Figuring out the right camera angles was also a challenge. We were very lucky to have gotten the positioning just right,” he said.
Getting the contraption up and running took the coordination of the University Athletics Association, UF Planning, Design and Construction, UF Information Technology Network Services and EarthCam, Hostetler said.
View the live stream at http://www.wec.ufl.edu/extension/ospreycam/, and click the camera icon to share camera stills on social media using the hashtag #UFOspreyCam.