For numerous years, the Palmetto Dunes POA has had reliability issues with the Osprey nest camera. Last year, we experienced several failures and replaced the faulty equipment that was accessible at ground level in the water tower. For several months, the camera operated fine. However, it failed again this past Fall. All components that were accessible at ground level were checked and appeared to be operational. As such, it appears that the camera and/or wiring leading to the camera needs to be replaced.
Hiring a climber to replace the camera and wiring is an expensive project. The security department has a project planned in the immediate future that also requires a climber for the water tower. As such, the two projects are being combined.
We understand that there are many people anxious to watch the return of Oprah and Oscar, and apologize for not having the camera operational at this time. It is important for us to get this fixed correctly so we do not have any issues in the future and do not disturb their nest.
UPDATE 2/13/2024: We began the installation of the nest cam and our PTZ, as soon as the equipment and a climber were both available. However, when the climbers got to the top of the tower, they observed that the nest is active. As such, we must postpone the project until later this year and do not expect this to occur into sometime after September 2024.
Oprah and Oscar returned in February 2022 and Oprah laid three eggs in late March/early April.
Did you know that the name “Osprey” made its first appearance around 1460, via the Medieval Latin phrase for “bird of prey” (avis prede)? Some wordsmiths trace the name even further back, to the Latin for “bone-breaker”—ossifragus. Below you will find everything you ever wanted to know about the Osprey and more!
Why Is the Nest On the Water Tower?
Ospreys live in habitats with secure nesting sites and access to shallow water with strong fish populations – a perfect match for Palmetto Dunes’ unique lagoon system! They will readily build nests on manmade structures such as telephone poles, channel markers, duck blinds, and nest platforms designed especially for them. Such platforms have become an important tool in reestablishing Ospreys in areas where they had disappeared.
The Osprey is 20.5-23.6 inches long with a 5-5.5 foot wingspan. (That’s a big bird!) It has mainly white underparts and head, apart from a dark mask through the eye, and fairly uniformly brown upperparts. Its short tail and long, narrow wings with four long “finger” feathers (and a shorter fifth) give it a very distinctive appearance.
Adult males can be distinguished from females from their slimmer bodies and narrower wings. They also have a weaker or non-existent breast band than the female, and more uniformly pale underwing coverts. It is straightforward to sex a breeding pair, but harder with individual birds. In flight, Ospreys have arched wings and drooping “hands”.
Ospreys have high-pitched, whistling voices. Their calls can be given as a slow succession of chirps during flight or as an alarm call—or strung together into a series that rises in intensity and then falls away, similar to the sound of a whistling kettle taken rapidly off a stove. This second type of call is most often given as an unfamiliar Osprey approaches the nest. As the perceived threat increases, the call can build in intensity to a wavering squeal. Listen here!
Hunting & Feeding
Ospreys are expert hunters, well-adapted to catching live fish. Locating their prey from the air, ospreys will sometimes dive more than 100 feet, pulling up at the last moment before plunging feet-first into the water to capture a fish.
Sometimes going completely underwater, the osprey has unique nostrils that close to keep out water. Their heavily muscled legs, powerful wings, and strong feet allow them to catch and fly off with fish up to three feet below the surface of the water! As the osprey rises in flight, it will grasp the fish firmly with two claws facing forward and two facing back. Adult ospreys are capable of carrying fish that equal their own size.
Ospreys usually mate for life. In spring they begin a five-month period of partnership to raise their young. Females lay 3–4 eggs within a month, and rely on the size of the nest to help conserve heat. The eggs are approximately the size of chicken eggs, mottled and cinnamon colored; they are incubated for about 5 weeks to hatching. Incubation by one or both parents works together with the nest structure to provide an ideal environment for the eggs. Bird parents may also wet or shade the eggs to prevent them from overheating.
The newly-hatched down-covered chicks weigh only 2 ounces, but fledge within eight weeks. When food is scarce, the first chicks to hatch are most likely to survive. The osprey chicks will begin to grow feathers almost immediately, and will be ready to test their wings within 5 to 7 weeks.