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.

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Better Home All Around

If I were an Osprey, I'd be a little uncomfortable with a construction crew moving into my neighborhood and paving a new river trail right next to my nesting pole. In fact, I'd probably be so rattled I'd move away, possibly even abandoning my clutch. Doesn't take a whole lot of empathic imagination to see it from our Osprey's point of view. 

This Spring, the newest segment of the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail is scheduled to begin construction, shortly after the expected return of our Osprey from their winter migration in South America. In order to avoid the likely conflicts, Georgia Pacific and Terra Contracting, working with the Kalamazoo Nature Center, proactively cut down the Osprey's nesting pole and erected a new nesting platform on the opposite side of the river, right on top of the land-fill. It's basically a mirror image of their former nesting spot. The new site is safe from any future disturbances from construction, as well as the eventual flow of pedestrian traffic on the new trail. 

I'm sure the Osprey will be a little confused by the glaring absence of their former nesting pole and their convenient perch on the back pole, but when they scope out the new platform, I think they'll be quite pleased. If I were an Osprey, I'd move in. But then again, I'm not an Osprey, so we'll just have to wait and see.

The new platform was designed and constructed by local artist and naturalist, Brent Spink, and John Brenneman, Research Project Coordinator for the Kalamazoo Nature Center. John was approached by Garry Griffith, Director Environmental Field Services for Georgia Pacific, to orchestrate the nest relocation. Terra Contracting (contracted by Georgia Pacific) brought in it's fine crew to tear down the old nesting pole and help raise the new platform.

In the meantime, I'm busy rounding up all the necessary components for a nest-cam that we hope to install the week of March 19th. We've gotta hustle since Karen Chadwick spotted an Osprey March 15th, perched on one of the utility poles on the eastern side of the GP lot. It may or may not be one of our birds. According to Brenneman, that's also the earliest sighting of an Osprey returning to our area. Previously, the earliest recorded sighting for Kalamazoo County was March 27th. With these record setting temperatures for March, it's no surprise. Times are a changin'.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


In a roundabout way, Kickstarter really got the funding rolling for HOPE HATCHES. We didn't reach or goal but we reached nearly $10,000 in pledges and we've decided that would be enough to proceed with the project. To compensate for the funding gap, we'll be conducting a local fundraising event sometime in the future and we'll have to extend the completion date for the doc further into 2013. 

The main thing is we can continue with the project!

In order to proceed though, we're counting on every one of the Kickstarter backers to re-contribute* to the project by either writing a check or donating to HorsePower Pictures through PayPal. That way we can tap the tremendous amount of support that came out of our Kickstarter campaign.

If you want to write a check, make it out and send to:

HorsePower Pictures
579 Nazareth Rd.
Kalamazoo, MI  49048

If you want to contribute online, click on the DONATE button in the upper right hand corner and it will take you to my PayPal account where you can make a secure contribution.

Which ever way you choose to donate, please include your full address and e-mail address. We need to have both so we can thank you accordingly and stay in touch using either means of communication. 

As they say in the film business: "Take two". Now let's rebuild the nearly $10,000 we raised the first time around.

Thank you to everyone for your patience and support.

* By donating to HorsePower pictures, you are not contributing twice. Your Kickstarter donation was never withdrawn from your account since we didn't reach our funding goal. 

If you'd like to learn more about WHEN HOPE HATCHES, click HERE.