Welcome to the Osprey Cam


About the Osprey

The osprey is a large raptor, often known as the “fish hawk.”  Both male and female osprey work together to create the nest. Once eggs are laid (typically 1-3), the osprey take turns incubating the eggs. The family diet is 99% fish, supplemented with other reptiles and crustaceans. When the chicks are 10 days old, they are already mobile and eat 1-3 lbs. of food per day.

Special thanks to the Garwick Family Memorial Fund for generously sponsoring the costs of the “Osprey Cam." 

Additional thanks to Vanessa Greene and Metro Osprey Watch (www.ospreywatch.blogspot.com) for their expert monitoring of the Arboretum osprey nest this past year, and ongoing info about ospreys in the metro area


Spring 2018 Osprey-Cam


June 14, 2018

This morning, the third osprey egg has hatched!  It's a full house--with three healthy chicks on the Arboretum nest!  

June 13, 2018

And then there were two!  Osprey chick #2 has hatched on the nest this morning, with a large piece of eggshell visible on the front nest edge. Both chicks have wobbly heads and fall over easily, so it appears to be a pile of chicks underneath Momma Osprey. Now observers are keenly watching egg #3. 

June 12, 2018

Expert observers are watching the newly hatched chick today and also noticed some movement in another egg....another chick is poking its way out of the egg with its egg tooth, which they have just for this purpose!

It’s subtle but when the adult ospreys stand up, a piece of the eggshell moving in and out on one of the remaining eggs is visible. Predictions are that chick #2 may hatch later today or tomorrow!


June 11, 2018

Early this monring, day 39 of incubation, the first osprey egg has hatched at the Arboretum osprey nest--the little one's wobbly head is visible when the female osprey stands up!  There were behavioral signs from the female yesterday that the blessed event was soon to occur: .looking down a lot, restless, rolling the eggs more frequently,. Stay tuned to observe the feeding of the new wee one--the female will take small bites and offer them to the chick. It won’t take much to fill the little one up.

Break out the bubbly and keep watching for more eggs to hatch within a day or two.



May 10, 2018

The third egg  arrived this morning (May 10)  on the Osprey cam nest! This prolific pair have laid an egg every third day, just like clockwork!  Now it will be interesting to see how the male and female take turns incubating the eggs.


May 9, 2018

Confirmation that the male osprey is banded Z3, a six year old now. The female is unbanded but appears to be the same female as last year. The Osprey breeding season got off to a very late start with lakes frozen and snow falling in early April when the Ospreys would normally return to their nests...but this pair is making up for lost time. In addition to first egg sighting, a second egg hs been laid! Typically, eggs are laid two to three days apart so  there could be even more eggs soon!



May 4, 2018

Ahhh...Spring has arrived.  And so have the returning osprey mates. This pair has been quite active in refurbishing their nest. and preparing for chicks.  In fact, an egg is already sighted--laid sometime last night or this morning is the guesstimate.  This year, osprey cam viewers can enjoy the lake setting, thanks to camera adjustments made by Arboretum staff (thank you!).  Welcome back to the Ospreys of Carver County and check beck often for osprey updates.





Spring 2017 Osprey-Cam


August 21

A final update.... with the final weeks of summer, the osprey familiy is prep[aring to migrate south to warmer climates such as Central America. But their migratory patterns do not include a family "road trip." Rather, the adult female is typically the first to depart in mid to late August.  Although she is still on the nest occasionally, the female's focus is now on feeding herself to build strength for the long trip ahead.  The male, Z3, is now the principal parent for care and feeding of the young osprey--to help prepare for her first solo trip.   Usually the adult male will be the last to depart, as he remains to feed the young osprey as long as she is asking for food. Most Ospreys are gone by mid September, with a few late nesters remaining until late September or early October.

As young opsreys transform from a chick to a juvenile, they return to the nest often, appearing to be a bottomless pit for fish! They must gain weight in preparation for their migration. Guided by instincts to head south and find their wintering grounds, the young female osprey will venture forth more often, expanding her flight and hunting skills. Notice the change in eye color . As a nestling, her eyes were a rusty red. Now the eyes slowly become more yellow, like adult osprey eyes.

Enjoy these last days of viewing the newest Osprey Famlily, another successful year for the Arboretum nest. Thank you for your support!


August 1

On the morning of July 30, the surviving osprey chick was jumping and hopping... and off she went.....and then returned to  nest quickly.. This strage, caled fledging, is right on schedule-- at about 7.5 weeks of age.

Note:  the rains have cleared some of the murkiness from the osprey cam!


July 28, 2017

In the last few weeks, there have been some changes in the nest....and the clouded osprey cam (contributed in part by the osprey's feces and projecticle. Any attempts to hose down the osprey cam were discouiraged due to the stress it would place on the ospreys. But what is clear is that one of the chicks has disappeared.  It is unknown if the chick may have fallen out of the nest during the recent spate of rainstorms or fallen victim to the Great Horned Owl predators--always nearby.

The surviving chick is now seven weeks old and the window for fledging is starting to open. The feathers begin to stiffen as the blood in the growing shaft begins to recede, making the feather strong enough to sustain flight. Since the osprey cam lens has cleared in certain spots, watch for  some wing flapping, hopping, with some lift, hovering above the nest before she finally takes off on her maiden voyage. Usually it's just a short loop and back to the nest. Sometimes they land somewhere nearby before finally making their way back home.

The chick will continue to depend on her parents for food (fish being the preferred option!) for approximately a month. Some of the feeding will transition from in the nest to eventually feeding her while perched somewhere away from the nest.

Note: Thanks to Vanessa Greene for details on these observations.


July 5, 2017

The osprey chicks are marking their one month birthday!  Thanks to attentive parents, the chicks are being well fed and protected, and growing rapidly.  In fact, the chicks grow to 80% of their adult size in the first 30 days!

Besides bulking up in size, the chicks will focus on growing “flight feathers” with the down between the feathers disappearing as the contour feathers on the body fill in. As the chicks build strength, you will see them start to extend their wings—perhaps even try flapping—and make early attempts at self-feeding.

My how time flies in Osprey Time when raising youngsters!


June 16, 2017

The two chicks are growing fast and the doting parents are actively bringing an abundance of fish for their voracious appetiites. The remaining egg--the first egg laid in the nest is most likely infertile and not going to hatch. The male and female osprey may eventually bury it in new nest material, or they may just leave it.

The focused parental role is a renewed commitment for Z3, the male osprey, as at the beginning , his attention was split with another nest and another female, so perhaps that explains the unhatched egg. Ah....the drama of the Ospreys of Carver County!


June 7, 2017

A second egg hatched earlier this morning....this chick joins a growing osprey family!  The osrey parents will be pressed into action even more feeding two hungry mouths.  Vanessa Greene from Twin Cities Osprey Watch notes that ospreys bring goldfish to the nest frequently. Greene clarifies that the are usually not koi from someone's pond, but that goldfish that have been released into lakes and ponds and are breeding there. They are just fancy carp, and are quite common. Ospreys like them because they are easy to see, and therefore easy to catch.

June 6, 2017

This morning brings news of a brand new osprey chick in the nest!  Yesterday evening, viewers could clearly see that signs of hatching had begun. The proud parents are now pressed into even more demand for food (fresh fish, etc). for the very hungry chick; as well as continue to incubate the remaining two eggs.  One viewer shared that the osprey cam showed the osprey parents with orange fish (koi from someone's pond?) clenched in their beaks this past weekend.



May 3, 2017

Egg-citing news: a third egg was layed in the nest, sometime in the wee hours of Wednesday.  Actually, right on schedule, as osprey typically lay eggs about three days apart.  The male osprey Z3, is proving to be a very good partner to the (unbanded) female osprey--helping to incubate the eggs....as this osprey family continues to grow!


May 1, 2017

What a way to wrap up the month of April:  the second osprey egg was laid at the Arb's osprey nest sometime in the wee hours of Sunday, April 30.  So far, 2 for 2 and on the watch for one to two more eggs (a typical number for an osprey pair). Notice how both female and male ospreys alternate incubating eggs, while the other searches for food. 


April 27, 2017

Great news on a gray weather day....the first osprey egg was laid around 9 a.m. this morning, Apri 27. Momma osprey dutifuly began incubating immediately, so a chick is on the way (fingers crossed!).   Be on the watch for for subsequent eggs as ospreys typicall lay two to three eggs, usually a few days apart.   Poppa osprey should be helping to incubate the egg, too.


April 17, 2017

The Arboretum osprey-cam season is now in full swing.  Most adult ospreys return to the same nest year after year. But Z3, the adult male from 2016, was playing “musical nests” by alternating between his “home nest” and another nest in Excelsior area (note:  correction from previous stating the other nest was on Arboretum grounds). However, he got booted off the second nest by another male osprey.  The female osprey from the “home nest” has returned and Z3 is now back in “courtship mode” by helping to build the nest and bringing food to share with the female. What’s next—watching for mating and egg-laying.  Check the camera often by clicking here.


April 6, 2017

Watch for the return of the ospreys to Minnesota and a new season of the Arboretum osprey cam. Most adult ospreys return to the same nest year after year, so fingers crossed for the return of the same pair from 2016 (at least the same male and female who took over the nest from previous osprey tenants!). Migration is not without danger, as not all survive the trip.

It’s an interesting journey—observing the fun and drama of matings (will the 2016 male and female return to each other), the courtship rituals (including male sky dance), and DIY nest renovations.

To refresh everyone’s memory….flash back to Sept 26, 2016—a photo (compliments of Vanessa Greene) captures the new osprey about to leave the Arboretum nest. This osprey was not banded under the Three Rivers Park District program, but her migration to points south of the equator will be an extended stay.  Young ospreys stay at wintering grounds for two to three years.

As they approach breeding age, ospreys typically return to their fledging area so there is a good chance to see this particular osprey again, all grown up!

Thanks to Vanessa Greene and Metro Osprey Watch (www.ospreywatch.blogspot.com) for their expert monitoring of the Arboretum osprey nest this past year. Osprey Watch provides info about ospreys in the metro area.





2016 Osprey Nest Updates

Friday, Aug. 19
It is official success for this nest and take-off for this osprey chick!
The osprey chick fledged at about 8:20 this morning and did not return to the nest until about 11 a.m. She stuck her landing, on the nest perch, perfectly!   She has stayed close to home for most of the day toda.
But it won't be long before the chick begins venturing forth more and more in the days ahead, while still returning to the nest to eat. As for the parents, the adult female will be the first to begin her migration, sometime in the next few weeks probably. The male will remain to feed and care for the chick. Both will likley be around sporadically until sometime in mid September.
Thanks to Vanessa Greene and the Osprey Watch project for dedicated monitoring of the nest and her knowledgeable information about the osprey.
Tuesday, Aug. 16
The osprey chick is acitvely flapping its wings, lifting off and returning down to the nest right this morning. Keep watching as "take-off" could happen anytime.
Thursday, Aug. 11
The little osprey chick, who reached the milestone 50 days on Aug. 8 is just entering the window of time when fledging could occur. They commonly fledge between 50-55 days and varies from bird to bird. People mistakenly believe that the parents will do something to encourage flight, or will in some way teach them to fly but this is incorrect. An osprey will fly when it is physiologically ready. Note these signs of flying readiness and behavior: the blood began to recede in the feathers, flapping their wings to build strength, and hopping from one side of the nest to the other
Tuesday, July 19
Happy birthday to the osprey chick--he or she (not sure yet) is one month old Sunday,  July 17, and growing very well.
The chick is growing right on schedule, with doting parents close by. Flight feathers were noted on the chick as s/he will prepare for a first attempt at flying, sometime between seven to eight weeks from birth.
Watch for pre-fledging behavior such as wing flapping and hopping which will allow the chick to hover over the nest or take very short flights from one side of the nest to another. One fine day a gust of wind will carry the chick off the nest! First flights are usually just a short loop ending up back on the nest. Landing is another story--sometimes resulting in a face plant....or on the ground. The parents usually will not feed a chick there so rescues are needed to return the chick to the nest  (hopefully uninjured).

Sunday, June 19

Big news and Happy Father's Day to proud parents of a baby chick born 6 a.m. this morning: male osprey Z3 and his mate, the unbanded female.

A quick recap:  the pair took over the nest early last year when the old male osprey died and the banded female moved to another nest. This is the new pair's second nest attempt and their first chick.  The first time parents are very excited, with the male sticking quite close to the nest and wanting to look at the new chick. The female is often peeking beneath to check on her new offspring.

Two eggs were laid this year and one was broken accidentally. But the pair continued to incubate the second egg and it hatched this morning. Usually the female will brood the chick and the male will provide the food. They almost never both leave the nest until the chick approaches fledging age.

The chick cannot thermoregulate in its first weeks of life, so the female will stay very close to keep it warm and dry. Eventually the female will stand up more and shade the chick as it begins moving around in the nest, looking out at its new world. Nestlings grow very quickly...usually to 80% of their adult size in the first 30 days.

Saturday, May 21

Sadly, this morning found discovered one damaged egg on the side of the nest.  No clear explanation of how egg was damaged. The good news is that the osprey pair is faithfully continuing to incubate the remaining egg.  Fingers crossed!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The brood is (hopefully) expanding! A second osprey egg was laid in the nest on Saturday night, May 14 at about 7:19 p.m. Watch how the osprey parents alternate warming the eggs in the nest.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

A new day brought a new surprise:  one egg in the nest! It may have been laid overnight or early this morning. Both adults are incubating the egg.  Monitoring will continue to see if additional eggs are on the way.  Osprey usually lay eggs about two to three days apart, with two to three eggs quite common (occasionally there may be four!).

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The male/female osprey couple from last year are still a couple:  The male, Z3,  and his mate--an unbanded female, do not seem to be getting around to laying eggs. So,chill (no pun on weather intended)....watch and wait.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Correction from April 13 entry:  The returning male osprey, banded Z3, is quite young--only four years old.  He took over the nest last year and mated with the unbanded female but broke the eggs. The elder male osprey who had been returning to this nest for the past few years, banded 79, sadly ended up at the Raptor Center in very poor condition and was euthanized last year.

This morning, the Z3 male osprey chased off another male osprey. Time will tell who wins this territory.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

This morning, the elder male osprey from last year, banded as Z3 , is back on the nest ....but with a new (unbanded) female osprey. ( As you may recall, his former female partner from last year, left the nest with another male osprey after their failed nesting.) Typically, a territorial male osprey will chase off all other males.  Time will tell how this new nesting saga shakes out--be on guard for some chaos until things settle down.

Monday, April 11, 2016

A male osprey has been spotted at the nest the past few days.  According to his band number, he is a five year old from a nest out near Lake Waconia. It is still early though and the original osprey male and female pair from last year (besides the interloper pair who came after the other pair abandoned the nest) may yet return.

Thanks to Twin Cities Metro Osprey Watch and Vanessa Greene at Osprey.mn@gmail.com for contributing to these updates.

Here are helpful links for more info on ospreys:

www.ThreeRiversParks.org (search for "ospreys")



Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Sadly, the nest has failed for this osprey pair as the third and remaining egg cracked accidentally and the female osprey ate some of the remains (it's protein) this past weekend. The osprey cam will continue to operate for a while to see what happens next with the osprey. It is possible that they could lay another egg. These past couple days, both were continuing to incubate a few eggshells...they seem to let go slowly when a nest fails like this. Mother Nature doesn't always deal a fair hand--it's been a rough few years on a nest that historically been very successful.

Thursday, May 28

The second of three eggs from this new couple appears to have been accidentally stepped on and cracked on May 27. They are now incubating only one egg. Life can be a challenge for young inexperienced osprey!

Thursday, May 21 update

The new Osprey nest couple are in a better place since the egg-rejection drama a little over a week ago. The pair laid two more eggs last week, on May 13 and 16. They are incubating normally and if all goes well, and if the eggs are fertile, watch for hatching of the first egg around June 21, a great happening for Fathers Day!

Monday, May 11 update

The saga continues on the Osprey nest. With Z3 male osprey and his female osprey partner (unbanded) now claiming the nest, their first egg was laid early this morning. However, the female osprey did not incubate the egg and Z3 displayed behavior rejecting the egg-standing on it and kicking it to the side of the nest. Without incubation, the egg has little chance of maturing and surviving. Monitoring will continue to see what's next for this osprey couple.

April 24, 2015 update

The Real Ospreys of Carver County: “Musical Nests”saga...
Osprey 79 (male) and Osprey 3S (female) have split. Despite what studies may say about ‘mating for life,’ this behavior is not uncommon after failed breeding, as is the case for this pair.  Osprey 3S has moved on to mate, taking up with an unidentified male from another nest on Bavaria Road, and they are building a nest in Chaska.  Osprey 79 (the oldest bird in the program) was spotted making loops in the air before soaring over Lake Minnetonka.  In the meantime, there appear to be two interlopers vying for the now-vacant nest. In the lead is Osprey Z3 (a three year old and one of two brothers from a nest near Carver Park that was initially courting Osprey 3S with fish) and an unbanded female Osprey.  But Osprey VJ, a 10 year old male from a nest near Prior Lake, is trying to claim the nest but with a yet-unidentified female..  Check back soon as the world turns and this live soap opera continues.

April 19, 2015 update

After a string of potential different male suitors appearing on the Arboretum Osprey cam nest, our old friend, Male 79, has finally turned to the nest sometime late in the day on April 18! He has set a new longevity record in this study at 23 years of age. The male's late return this spring has been stressful for the female, 3S, as she had to defend the territory alone.

Here's hoping for a successful breeding season for this loyal pair of Ospreys!

April 15, 2015 Update

This morning we have a different male on the nest...he is Z3, the brother of the male that was there yesterday! He is three years old also and is bringing fish and working on the nest. We will see how the soap opera ends and who wins the territory!*

This nest pole was erected in 2001 in response to ospreys attempting to build a nest on an electric line. Ospreys are nesting in the Twin Cities area primarily because of a 29-year program initiated by Three Rivers Parks to reintroduce the birds as a nesting species in the metro area and monitor their population expansion and distribution.

April 13, 2015 Update

The returning female, 3S, (green/black band) is 5 years old. We have not seen the old male, 79, but a new young male is on the nest and presented 3S with a fish which is part of the courtship ritual. He is Z2, a three year old from a nest on private property near Carver Park. The old male, 79, has often been a late return in the spring, so we haven't given up hope on seeing him...but the oldest male we have documented so far in this study has been 22 years old, which was the age of 79 last year.*