The Project Osprey Webcam 2010

We thank for generous contributions and support:

Project Osprey University of Montana
(UM Geosciences,
UM Biology)

Raptors of the Rockies

NorthWestern Energy

Riverside Health Care Center


This was our first season using a webcam on an Osprey nest. Primary goal was to collect scientific data about feeding habits of Ospreys along the Clark Fork River and the heavy metals they are exposed to with their food. We recorded the chicks' lives, and you may check out some highlights from the table below.

What's happening at the Hellgate Nest:
Click thumbnail images for video
Click on the photos to watch videos
Week 13
September 7 The camera went into hibernation, although at least one chick and an adult were seen on the nest today.    
Week 12
August 29 Young birds still spend much time on and around the nest and are being fed.

Race to the food!
(no audio - although one can "see" the noise!)

Week 9
August 6 Finally - 08 takes first flight. 07 seems inspired, but will not fly for eleven more days! This will look a lot more graceful in a week or so
Week 8
August 4 The adult-size chicks are still being "beak-fed" most of the time Long way to independence
August 1 Lots of flight training, the more developed chick (color band 08) practices much more often than its less developed sibling (color band 07) Flying soon
Week 7
July 27 Both chicks are similar in weight, the previously smaller one has less developed feathers Watch lighter margins of juveniles' feathers
July 25 Chicks are especially active during the cool morning and evening hours More flight training
July 22 Check out the article in today's issue of the Missoulian, the local newspaper
Week 6
July 21 The size difference between the chicks seems to decrease. They were banded with color PVC bands in addition to the usual alumninum bands to allow for identification from greater distance Watch the bands on each leg
July 17 Chicks start flapping their wings, even the much smaller sibling This must be contageous
July 17 Even though their is not much daylight yet, breakfast often comes before 6:00 am Start of another good day
July 16

Surplus food, so this is just another fish

Compare mom's reaction to the video from June 24!
July 15 Big day: Osprey young are banded and blood samples are taken at the age of five weeks and two days  
Week 5
July 13 The chicks easily doubled their weight since the end of June Feeding independently
July 12 The male brings in more food these days than anyone can eat High winds in Hellgate Canyon
July 9 After 30 days, the smaller chick still has to endure its siblings attacks Frustration about being hit with the stick?
July 9 When left alone or in other potentially dangerous situations, the chicks lay down flat in the nest and close their eyes If I don't see you - you can't see me!
July 9 Chicks seem to be struggling on hot days, and mother is providing shade most of the time Heat stress
July 9 Dimorphism between the chicks is still great Breakfast before it gets hot
July 8 Chicks keep their nest clean and prepare a suitable place to sleep Bedtime after a good meal
Week 4
July 2-7 The nest seems to look different every day as the ospreys continuously "improve" their place. Chicks are growing at a high rate, with up to four prey fish carried in every day Do not block the cam please!
July 1 Parents constantly work on the nest as we have had a windy week. Chicks are 22 days old, both growing at their own rate.

Hello fish experts: What species is he bringing in?


July 1 Parents constantly work on the nest as there are strong winds almost every day. Just don't stab them! Nest building
Week 3
June 30 Chicks keep their nest clean Good shot!
June 28-30 One or two whitefish per day

Female will give it up 10 minutes later, then male flies off with fish. Chick is definitely cropped up.

tug a war
35 cm mountain whitefish Large whitefish
June 27 Two small fish, hard to see between talons and one 20 cm whitefish. Large chick tries first bites without mother's help. One of many tries to take an independent bite First bites


What's happening at the Hellgate Nest
(First Three Weeks):

(click on links below)
Saturday, June 26: LARGE Rainbow(?) Trout at 5:36, this lasts for several feedings in the morning. Watch the big chick "discipline" the smaller one at 17:59

This trout is still alive

Largest beak gets all
Pecking Order - literally
Friday, June 25: Large Whitefish 35 cm Male brings Mountain Whitefish
Thursday, June 24: One 25 cm sucker(?) in the afternoon Excitement about first catch in 3 days
Week 2
Wednesday, June 23: No fresh food at the nest, male picks up the remaining piece of salmon from the nest
Tuesday, June 22: Female is gone in the morning, most likely fishing as the high, murky Clark Fork River makes fishing difficult. Male is roosting on the side of the nest, then he leaves also.
We excange the malfunctioning camera with help from NorthWestern Energy. During this disturbance, we feed salmon to the starving chicks. Parents bring one 30 cm trout in late morning.
Monday, June 21: One 25 cm trout in the morning
Sunday, June 20: One small fish in the morning, <10 cm. Partially eaten by female
Saturday, June 19: No food today
Friday, June 18: One 25 cm fish Feeding
Thursday, June 17: Three fish, 20, 10, 20 cm
Week 1
Wednesday, June 16: One small fish, fishing is difficult due to low visibility in the river Slim diet (poor recording - frames one minute apart)
Tuesday, June 15: We installed the webcam in the morning, under cloudy skies. NorthWestern Energy Co. donated a boom truck for the hour-long procedure. We covered the young with a blanket, and when the truck pulled away from the nest, the female adult returned to the nest within minutes.
Friday, June 11: Adults tearing off small pieces of fish and apparently feeding young
Wednesday, June 9: Parents were seen standing in the nest, apparently tending to hatching chicks