A pair of ospreys have called Tifft Nature Preserve home for the past six years- and a new camera is offering a bird’s eye view of their daily activities.
The live camera can be viewed 24/7 from the Buffalo Museum of Science’s YouTube account.
“We’re excited to have a camera in the osprey nest, looking down at it to give us an idea of what’s happening- how many eggs they lay, how many hatchlings survive,” Meghan Dye, director of Tifft Nature Preserve said.
The osprey camera, made possible by the East Hill Foundation, is powered by solar power, since there is no electricity in the portion of the reserve where the stand is located.
The osprey platform, which stands tall across from the preserve’s education center, was built in 2012 by the NYS Power Authority as part of their habitat improvement project .
“For many years, all we could see of the nest is where we’re standing right now, but everything that was going on was a guess,” Dye said.
Ospreys, which are birds of prey, prefer tall places for their nests, Dye explained.
“As a standard, ospreys tend to pick the highest point possible,” she said.
The stand at Tifft includes a cuff to prevent raccoons and other wildlife from climbing into the nest and eating the eggs.
Its proximity to multiple bodies of water also make the stand prime osprey real estate.
“They like areas along the water- about 99 percent of their diet is fish,” Dye said.
The pair of ospreys featured on the osprey cam have been nesting on the platform since 2013.
“They’ll leave for the winter- they’ll go down as far as South America, and then return each spring,” Dye said. “Usually, the male returns first and makes sure everything is okay- they do mate for life.”
Ospreys are native to the WNY area, but have only started to make a comeback in the past several years.
For years in the last century, the use of pesticides containing DDT caused the eggs of birds of prey to become weaker, often breaking under the weight of the birds.
“The farms would use the pesticide, it gets into the water, the fish ingest the DDT, and the birds ingest the fish and it gets into their systems,” Dye said.
DDT was banned in 1972, at which point the populations of birds of prey were already declining.
“With the ban of DDT, it’s taken quite a long time but we’re finally seeing a comeback,” Dye said.
Tifft is home to about 160 different species of birds, as well as deer, beavers, muskrats, turtles, and other wildlife.
For a full list of events coming up at the nature preserve this summer, click here.