Tuesday, August 7, 2012


BANDING OSPREY from Matthew Clysdale on Vimeo.


It's been a criminally long time since my last post, and I apologize for the delay. Once again though, it's because I've been posting regularly on our Facebook page for the Osprey in a more play-by-play manner. That's one of the reasons it's been challenging to step back and assess the big picture.

With the nest-cam failing and the young (spoiler alert!) now fledged, I think this is a good time to give the broad strokes of this years brood and their successful rearing by our beloved Osprey parents. To illustrate that sweep are highlight photos from the nest-cam, many of which never came through on my cell-phone when the nest-cam was installed on the platform. Opening those files on the SD card from the camera is always like Christmas. Hunters know the thrill when they check the digital cards on their trail-cams. You never know what you're going to get.

Here's a photo history of the young from the laying of the third and last egg, all the way through to the ladder (and last chick) from when we banded the young. At the time of the banding, the cellular function of the camera had failed and we decided to take the nest-cam down for repair or return. We've since had to rely on a team of photographers on the ground to document the fledging young and the antics of their beginning flight and fishing practice.

From egg to banding. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 3, 2012


A magical, mystical, marvelous egg has finally arrived! 

The first photograph to confirm it's arrival was April 29th, around 6:20pm. 

I love the above picture because it illustrates the singular focus of the adult Opsrey's entire life: to reproduce. All the migration, nest building (not to mention our efforts to build and relocate the platform), defending and mating boils down to that beautiful egg in the middle of the nest. It's the center of their universe, the center of a living mandala. 

It also illustrates the vulnerability of life, in the form of a delicate egg. 

Soon enough that egg won't be alone. A second, third, and maybe even a fourth will follow. What follows that will be even more amazing: hatchlings.

In the meantime, it's all about incubation, and patience. 

For more of a play-by-play on the Opsrey, visit our Facebook page: Kalamazoo's Osprey Family.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Any Day Now

Since my last post, roughly 20 days ago, there's been constant activity on and around the new nest. Every day I receive nest-cam photos of one or two Osprey perched on the platform. There have even been numerous sightings of 4 and even 5 birds circling the skies around the new platform. I even witnessed what looked like an attempt by another pair of Osprey to muscle out the resident pair. It's been terribly exciting for everyone - including the Osprey!

It's clear our relocation effort has been a success, even with all the industrial commotion occurring directly across the river - because the River Trail construction is in full effect. In fact, the staging ground for practically the entire operation is located right at the foot of the former nesting pole, just inside the gate. We suspect it took a little extra time for the birds to test out the security of the new nest and perhaps that's why they settled in at least a week later than the other Osprey in the Kalamazoo area. Keep in mind, that's all on top of some record setting returns for Osprey in SW Michigan given our crazy-warm weather. 

John Brenneman thought we'd give the birds till around April 7th before we would write them off this year, but low and behold they arrived right around April 5th. Good timing.

The main reason I haven't posted sooner was because I've been working the situation more play-by-play on our Facebook page for the Osprey. To check it out click HERE - and please post any sightings or comments. It's a community hub for and about the birds.

Further confirming the success of our relocation effort are numerous sightings, eyewitness and photographic, of the birds mating. Literally a minute before I received the first nest-cam confirmation of a pair of Osprey (at first there was only one bird), John Brenneman called to tell me he witnessed two Osprey mating. Seems like everything is well in order.

The photo below was taken by Ky Gilbert. You can see more on our Facebook page.

With all the multiple attempts to breed, one would think eggs will follow. The absolute disrepair of the nest led me to think otherwise, but I suspect the birds have their priorities. As of yesterday, April 24th, the nest has suddenly and beautifully taken shape, as if the Osprey know something's coming. That little open spot in the middle, with some softer bedding, looks like it's ready to receive an egg or two. We should know any day now.

The dramatic glitch in this scenario is that my nest-camera is starting to malfunction. I only receive a couple photos per day now, compared to the programmed photo every half hour. I need to make a quick inspection of the platform this week to diagnose--and hopefully fix--the problem. Drama.

It's these kinds of technological  problems that make me wish I was simply building a nest with nothing but sticks. How can that go wrong?

Saturday, April 7, 2012


Sent to my iPhone April 5th at 1:44pm.

This photo was the first visual confirmation of an Osprey on the new platform. It even brought along a fish!

Considering all the other known Osprey nests in the Kalamazoo area already had birds settling in, we weren't entirely sure our birds were returning this year. The Osprey in the old Eaton lot and the birds nesting in the old paper mill in Parchment returned as early as the second to last week of March. It very well could be our birds just needed some time to get comfortable with all the change going on around their traditional nest site.

Two days after the above male arrived and began hanging around the site, I received the photo below. Literally one minute after the photo came in on my iPhone, I received a phone call from John Brenneman of the Nature Center who witnessed the two birds mating on the platform!

Everyone involved with the relocation effort was absolutely thrilled by the news. We're all feeling like expecting parents. With eggs and a successful hatching we'll be even more thrilled. At that point we'll be passing out cigars.

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Bird's Eye View...of the Birds

If you've been keeping an eye on the new nest-platform, you may have noticed it just got a little bigger. The perch-arm that was attached to the platform has grown about five feet.

Just last week, Brent Spink (Brent built the platform with John Brenneman of the Kalamazoo Nature Center) and I attached a new perch to accommodate a cellular nest-cam so we can monitor the nest. The previous perch just wasn't high enough to give us the right perspective on the nest box. 

We had to build a little roof for the camera so the birds won't try and perch on it. My conversations with others who've installed nest-cams say the biggest problem is keeping the lens clear of white-wash. I think our camera is high enough up and out of the way of an arching blast of the stuff. We can only hope.

The camera is a cellular trail camera (mainly for hunters) that uses a phone account to send pics via text message to my iPhone and my email account. I turned off the motion detector and set the camera to take a picture every half hour during daylight. That was to conserve on battery usage since we won't be able to access the camera or system at all once the birds take to the platform. The entire system needs to be self contained for potentially five months.

We also added more sticks to the nest to make it look more like....a nest!

A bird's eye view.

The nest platform is incredibly visible for anyone stopped at the light at the intersection of Kings Highway and I94 Business Loop.

Me installing the solar panel to keep the 6V battery fully charged.

The final work of art with new cairn-like feet to add extra stability and aesthetically mask the original, blocky anchors.


This is one of the pictures the camera sent to my iPhone!
Since we installed the camera, I've received 150 pictures, each one virtually identical, except for variations on the light. 

Hopefully, I'll soon receive a picture where the sticks suddenly look a little different, as though they've been rearranged or more have been added to the mix. Better yet, I may even receive a picture of an Osprey cleaning house.