By Reader Staff
The osprey pair at Sandpoint’s Memorial Field, dubbed “Sandy and Pete,” have returned from winter migration — and the avian stars already putting on a show as they build their nest and prepare for first eggs, likely to arrive any day now.
It’s action everyone can witness, thanks to the web cam on community website Sandpoint Online that streams a real-time picture and sound from the nest. Watch live at: ospreys.sandpointonline.com.
For the first time since the web cam was installed in 2012, a camera malfunction had knocked the cam offline for Sandy and Pete’s return in earlier April. The camera failure necessitated a mission to replace it, successfully carried out on Friday.
“And I’m really happy to say, the new camera and the great internet connection we’re getting from Northland Communications are giving us the best picture and sound we’ve ever had,” said Chris Bessler of Keokee Co., which produces Sandpoint Online.
Getting up to the cam for the replacement was a tall order – literally. The nest platform is above the light standard on the field, 100 feet up. Dennis McIntire of Best Way Tree Service provided his tall bucket truck to access the cam. Kerry Berg of Video Security Technology donated his hands-on expertise to replace the camera — as the anxious ospreys circle and waited nearby.
“Best part for me was enjoying the bird’s eye view of the osprey flying in close around us while we worked on the camera,” Berg said afterwards. “Both birds kept a close watch on us and returned shortly after we completed it all.”
The saying “it takes a village” surely applies to the osprey cam. It’s on the field only thanks to the partnership of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department — but no tax money is used for cam operations. The equipment and operations are provided by Sandpoint Online.
Raptor biologist Janie Veltkamp, director of Birds of Prey Northwest, provides oversight to ensure the ospreys’ health and safety. Another volunteer, Robin Werner, is the official “Nest Watcher,” monitoring the ospreys and moderating comments provided in the live chat, nest blog and osprey FAQ.
Northland Communications donates the high-bandwidth internet connection. The city’s electrical provider, Avista Utilities, has provided support annually since the cam first went up, as have many individual donors, who chip in contributions via the web cam page.
Bessler noted that the cam typically serves up a quarter million page views to 100,000 or more unique visitors — who view it from around the world.
“Sandy and Pete don’t know it, but they are right up there as our most famous local residents,” said Bessler. “Mother Nature gets the last word, but all of us osprey fans have fingers crossed for them to have another successful year hatching and raising their chicks.”
To check out the web cam, visit ospreys.sandpointonline.com.
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