H.L. Ferguson Museum Launches New Osprey Cam
Residents and visitors who enjoy following the ospreys that return to the island each spring have a lot to celebrate. The H.L. Ferguson Museum’s much-anticipated new Osprey Cam became operational in mid-March. The Dahua 32x IR PTZ Network Camera features a 32x optical zoom lens, and is capable of capturing long-distance outdoor video surveillance day or night.
“With the 32x optical zoom lens we expect to provide a higher quality and viewable image size,” says Beth Jepsen of Insite Design, LLC, who designed and manages the Museum’s website where the live feed from the osprey cam can be viewed.
The camera is expected to provide much greater color details in low-light conditions and is equipped with quick and accurate pan/tilt/zoom control. While the previous camera was not set up for SSL (secure sockets layer), the new one offers secure streaming over HTTPS.
“The camera will also have an audio function, which we did not have previously,” says Jepsen. “In addition, its Live Streaming Network minimizes bandwidth usage, allowing us to stream higher-quality video. The previous feed was choppy. The new system is also able to maintain 30 days recording, so we can go back and grab significant events.”
The funds to purchase the new Osprey Cam were donated by George and Leslie Conant. Funds to cover several years of annual streaming fees, which have gone up considerably, were donated by Nick Spofford and Jennifer Sanger through the Spofford Foundation, with additional funds to cover streaming provided by Jennifer Russell.
The previous camera was purchased in 2012 with funds donated by the Fishers Island Conservancy. After it ceased to function properly in July 2021, a search was undertaken that led to the new camera and a higher-quality streaming service.
The Museum would like to thank the Fishers Island Utility Corp. for its support on this project, the Fishers Island Telephone Corp. for installing the new camera on short notice, and the Fishers Island Electric Corp. for donating the use of equipment for the installation of a new nesting platform at the Osprey Cam site. The platform itself was generously constructed and donated by Pirates Cove Marine. The volunteers who worked early on a Sunday morning to mount the platform were Harrison Hall and Kenny Ahman of Fishers Island Electric, and Tom Doyen of Fishers Island Telephone, with additional assistance and coordination provided by Jim Baker, along with Ken Edwards, Jeff and Benjamin Edwards. Photographing the project from start to finish were Steve Head of Fishers Island Telephone, Catherine Edwards, and Pierce Rafferty. We thank you all for such a great group effort!
Osprey Viewing Tips:
Want to jump right into the action? The osprey have been hard at work building a new nest at Middle Farms Flats. Check out their progress in these short clips.
Building a new osprey nest at Middle Farm.
- Each year you can expect to see the arrival of the first ospreys by mid to late March, according to recent history. The ospreys generally show up a few days before St. Patrick’s Day, “about the same time that the spring peepers start singing,” says Museum Trustee Terry McNamara. They are often seen in flight days or even weeks before they settle on a nest. In 2021, resident osprey expert and former Museum Trustee Ken Edwards spotted an osprey in flight on March 14. The first sighting on camera was of one osprey on March 31. This year (2022) the first sighting in flight was on March 20 and the first confirmed landing on nest was March 23.
- Females lay eggs, which are speckled with beige and brown spots, anywhere between mid-April and late May. The clutch size is typically one to four eggs. The incubation period is 36 to 42 days while the nestling period is 50 to 55 days in length. The incubation begins with the first egg and eggs hatch in sequence. Marked eggs typically hatch in 37 to 38 days. Once the egg hatches, the nestling will take about seven to eight weeks to reach its first fledgling flight, and will remain dependent on its parents to catch fish for a variable period thereafter.
- The first chicks may hatch as many as five days before the last one, and the oldest chick often dominates over the younger nestlings. If food is limited, this behavior can cause younger chicks to starve to death. Nestlings are brooded and fed fish for about 40 days after hatching. After this point, nestlings begin to resemble adults, but have reddish-orange eyes and feathers edged in buff. The osprey is the only hawk on the continent that eats almost exclusively live fish.
- Families remain together near the nesting site through July, as fledglings learn to fly and then fish. Adults begin to migrate to their wintering grounds as far south as South America as soon as fledglings become independent. Juveniles usually migrate during the last week of August.
- These large raptors are known to live for approximately 15 to 20 years.
Video: Time lapsed video of nest platform installation on March 20, 2022.