GRCA Osprey Cam is ready for return of the birds

Everything is set for season three of the Grand River Conservation Authority Osprey Cam, expected to begin sometime in mid­-April when the ospreys return.

This live webcam has been a popular project for the past two years, giving people an intimate look into the lives of an osprey family at Belwood Lake Park 24/7.

In spite of the best efforts of the parents as they tenderly raise their chicks, the survival of the young osprey is nowhere near assured.

“It’s important to keep in mind the 80 per cent rule,” notes master bird bander David Lamble, who has been banding osprey and many other species in the area for decades.

“Eighty per cent of the eggs don’t hatch and 80 per  cent of the birds that do hatch don’t come back as adults.”

In 2016, a raccoon climbed up the 75-foot pole to the nesting platform one night in June and the two young didn’t survive the night.

In 2015, one of the two young chicks took off for its first flight and never returned – those first flights made by an inexperienced young bird are always dangerous.

This means that out of six eggs laid over the first two years, four young hatched, but only one bird successfully fledged from this nest.

Predator protection

In February, predator protection was installed at the base of the osprey platform at Belwood Lake in anticipation of the return of the birds this year. The heavy gauge galvanized sheet metal guard is wrapped tightly around the pole to prevent ground based predators from climbing up.

“I expect when the osprey return in mid-April they will find things to their liking,” said GRCA terrestrial ecologist Robert Messier.

Messier noted that the webcam is a window into a small part of the natural ecosystem where one species will thrive at the expense of another due to the predator-prey relationship.

This is certainly the case of ospreys, which depend on fish, but their young can also be preyed upon by eagles or raccoons.

Watch the ospreys at