Osprey Cam- Emma, CO

Emma Osprey

In the fall of 2015, Pitkin County Open Space and Trails partnered with Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, the Pitkin County Healthy Rivers and Streams Board, Pitkin County Information Technology and Holy Cross Energy to install a wildlife camera on a pole adjacent to an active Osprey nest. The nest, located in Emma, Colorado, sits on a platform between Highway 82 and the Roaring Fork River in a riparian ecosystem. 

The cam2021-Mom Osprey and Kids wings stretchedera saw its first use in 2016 and was replaced in the spring of 2018 with a new and better version. The camera streams live footage each spring and summer season, capturing the real-time activities of a pair of nesting Ospreys that return to this nest each year to breed. The nest platform was installed in 2010 after a pair of Osprey began nest-building activities on a nearby Holy Cross Energy utility pole. No young birds were reared that year, but the Osprey pair’s return in 2011 was anticipated, so action to move the nest out of harm’s way took place in late 2010, after the birds had departed for the winter. Since an Osprey nest and high-voltage electrical lines are not compatible, the nest and the crossbeams it was built on were transferred to a “safe pole” located about 40 feet away that was already in place. Pitkin County and Holy Cross Energy worked together to come to this solution, a safe option for both birds and humans. Since 2011, the pair of Osprey have returned each year to the relocated nest. One or two young Ospreys have fledged from this nest in most years since then, though three chicks fledged in 2019. Of the breeding pair, the female is the larger bird, with lighter, frosted coloring on the tips of her feathers. (She’s on the right in the photo above). The male, is smaller, sleeker and darker in color. Ospreys often choose nesting sites near where they were hatched. This means some of the other Ospreys in the Roaring Fork Valley may be related to, or are offspring, of the Emma pair.

Nature takes its course Osprey Family 7.5.2017

This is a wild Osprey nest; there is no human intervention. Great Horned Owls, Golden Eagles and Bald Eagles thrive in this area, and are known to prey upon both juvenile and adult Ospreys. Other Ospreys have also been observed harassing the breeding pair in Emma. Predation, sibling competition and natural disturbances may affect the inhabitants of this nest and some viewers may find that type of activity difficult to watch.

General Osprey Information 

Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus), commonly seen flying above shallow inland waterways or near the sea, are one of the few birds of prey that subsist almost exclusively on fish. Most Ospreys are migratory, traveling from northern breeding grounds to winter locales near tropical lakes, rivers, seashores and coral reefs. Ospreys have some of the widest habitat range of any raptor species and can be found on every continent except for Antarctica. Osprey populations have rebounded significantly following the ban on the pesticide DDT, representing one of the most successful environmental conservation stories in North American history. Ospreys usually mate for life and nesting pairs return to the same nest every year to lay eggs. Some Osprey nests span many generations and can be over 70 years old.  Ospreys typically situate their nests close to shallow bodies of water, often atop snags (standing dead trees) or man-made structures like telephone poles or platforms constructed specifically for Osprey nests. Osprey eggs have an incubation period of about 5 weeks. New hatchling(s) typically have their first flight after 8 to 10 weeks of living in the nest. While the female is carrying and sitting on the eggs, the male Osprey may catch fish and bring them to the female.

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Osprey North American Range Map


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