Ospreys are stars of wildlife cams

Local birds have their own reality shows

Some local ospreys are the stars of their own reality shows, courtesy two live-streaming cams.

The Valmont Reservoir osprey cam even has its own Facebook page with fans worldwide, says Ryan Prioreschi, wildlife resources coordinator with the city of Boulder.

One Texas viewer used her family vacation to visit the ospreys at Longmont’s Boulder County Fairgrounds osprey cam in person, says Nik Brockman, web administrator for Boulder County Parks and Open Space. “Some people pull up the webpage when they wake up and turn it off when they go to bed.”

The technical aspects of running a live-streaming wildlife cam can be tricky. This cam is at the
Longmont site. (photo courtesy Nik Brockman, Boulder County Parks and Open Space)

Cams can be tricky, says Prioreschi. “Last year the young were within days of fledging and the system failed, and I couldn’t approach the nest to reset the camera. I did get it back shortly after they fledged.”

Longmont’s cam failed two years in a row and was struck by lightning the third. The fourth year was a charm, says Brockman, capturing a full season of activity, including a return to the nest, egg laying and hatching. The young start flying in July.

Cam fans can distinguish between the birds, says Prioreschi, noting one Valmont Reservoir male likes colorful bits of trash. “He found bright blue gloves one day and then some blue yarn,” he says. “He thinks he’s a bowerbird. Sometimes he’ll come back with a stick and poke the female. You can see her getting annoyed with him.”

While the osprey cams are popular, researchers also shoot stills of wildlife throughout Boulder County. In addition to bear and mountain lions, the cams have caught rare animals like the ring-tailed cat. In 2010, a remote cam captured a photo of an American river otter, which had not been seen here in 100 years.

“These cameras give us an opportunity to see more than we’d be able to see out surveying ourselves,” says Prioreschi. “We get some frankly beautiful shots with these remote cameras.”

—Lori DeBoer