Audubon Live!

Where did the Osprey cams come from?

Enjoying our live bird cams? Thank the Menunkatuck Audubon Society!

The Menunkatuck Audubon Society is one of five Audubon Society chapters serving towns—and birds—throughout Connecticut (the chapter is based in Guilford).

Their live-streaming Osprey cameras attract hundreds of thousands of viewers each spring and summer during nesting season, offering a rare opportunity to observe these big, beautiful birds and their chicks up-close. The chapter estimates they have installed or replaced up to 85 platforms up and down the Connecticut coast since 1991. Four of these also include solar-powered cameras.

It is important to note that Ospreys are not a threatened species, or one of Audubon Connecticut’s Priority Bird Species of significant conservation need. Still, they’re fun to watch! To learn more about the birds Audubon Connecticut is actively working to support and some of our key programs, click here

In mid to late-March, Ospreys return to coastal towns up and down the Connecticut shoreline from their wintering grounds in South America. After selecting a nest, they will spend weeks adding the perfect nesting material, finally settling down to breed and incubate eggs by (typically) mid-April.

Menunkatuck’s Osprey platform program officially launched in 1991 in Hammonasset Beach State Park, where the chapter installed three "Sanibel" tripods.

After 15 years the tripods were beginning to show signs of age. Their height and design made it difficult to get to the nests to remove plastic bags, fishing line, balloons, and other trash with which Ospreys decorate them. The Menunkatuck Board of Directors made a decision to replace the tripods with a sturdier platform that would be easier to maintain.

In early 2008, new platforms made of Atlantic white cedar and stainless steel hardware replaced some of the old tripods. Within weeks, the Ospreys returned and began bringing nesting materials to the new platforms.

By 2012, five news platforms were successfully installed. Over the years, Menunkatuck’s reputation for Osprey platform installation grew as state parks, land trusts, town conservation commissions, and public works departments, and private landowners began requesting their help.

Partnerships have been key to the program’s success. Menunkatuck has even received donations of cedar boards from a local lumberyard! Visit the chapter’s website at menunkatuck.org if you’re interested in learning more about these efforts.

Their conservation work expanded to include repair and replacement of platforms in May 2014 when a platform in Guilford’s East River marsh collapsed under pressure of high winds with three eggs in the nest. Chapter member Terry Shaw was able to facilitate its repair and the next day the Ospreys returned to rebuild and mate (unfortunately unsuccessfully that year).

Terry’s inspection of the collapsed platform showed that the hardware used to hold the platform’s braces had rusted through. Recalling that in 2011, a 1990s-era platform near Branford’s Trolley Trail collapsed with the loss of two chicks that were near fledging, the chapter began a survey of Osprey platforms in the area and a program of replacing those in poor condition.

Now with the help of dozens of volunteers, Menunkatuck’s program is thriving. And you can join in!

Learn how to assemble Osprey platforms with Menukatuck’s online guide.

How you can help, right now