Spring is here, and the osprey are nesting.
But this natural rite is now accompanied by a technological one: watching osprey nests in Severna Park and on Kent Island online to keep track of the feathered families in real time as they settle back in for the season.
Birds were spotted on the Severna Park nest camera run by Maryland Raptor Rescue, Inc. and partners on March 16.
And Kent Island osprey couple Tom and Audrey returned to their platform on March 18, according to the Chesapeake Conservancy, which runs that osprey cam and several other wildlife webcams in the region.
Wildlife webcams allow viewers to watch in real time as the birds build their nests, lay and incubate their eggs and raise their hatchlings.
But the osprey parents don't always get that lucky. Last year crow attacks left Tom and Audrey without a viable egg. They became empty nesters.
The Chesapeake Conservancy runs the webcam that shows Tom and Audrey's nest, in partnership with explore.org. The platform, nest and new-and-improved camera, with video quality noticeably better than last season, is situated on the water in Kent Island near the home of the anonymous Crazy Osprey Family, who run a blog detailing the birds’ activities.
An update posted on the conservancy's website says The Crazy Osprey Family have confirmed that it is really is Tom and Audrey, and not some other osprey, who have returned to the nest.
Tom and Audrey clearly have a following online — a post on The Crazy Osprey Family blog about their return garnered 74 comments, and when the conservancy posted about one osprey returning to the platform it was shared nearly 40 times.
The Severna Park osprey couple have a much busier environment to contend with — they’re located next to Severna Park High School. Amid the birds’ chatter, viewers can hear car horns and the hum of passing vehicles.
The camera that shows that nest is operated by Maryland Raptor Rescue, Inc. and several partners. It also has an online following. More than 440 people are a part of a Facebook group for the camera.
A note on the camera’s web page says as of March 16 an osprey couple was on the nest, doing housekeeping and bonding.
Neither the Kent Island osprey or the Severna Park osprey have laid eggs yet.
But other birds have.
The Chesapeake Conservancy operates two other webcams, one for a peregrine falcon nest in Baltimore and a second for a rookery of great blue herons on the Eastern Shore. Herons nest in groups called rookeries.
The falcons, Boh and Barb, had their first egg March 19, the conservancy said on its website. The nest now has four eggs.
The heron rookery camera shows three main nests, the conservancy said, and has a total of between 10 and 12 nests. One couple, Rell and Eddie, had their first egg March 28.