UPDATE: See the official page for the 2017 season here.
Through a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Conservancy partnered with the Alabama Coastal Foundation, the City of Orange Beach, Alabama, and Baldwin EMC to broadcast the real-time activities of a nesting osprey family along the Gulf of Mexico.
Our nature-based reality show aired May 1 – July 31, 2013. We are hoping to air the second season in Spring 2014.
By Jeff DeQuattro, Nature Conservancy Coastal Programs Office, Alabama
All kids eventually leave home to make their own way in the world. While most human parents have 18 years or so years to prepare for the inevitable “empty nest” syndrome, bird parents only have a few months. Such is the case with our charismatic osprey family on Alabama’s Gulf Coast.
For 3 months, people from at least 112 countries tuned in to watch osprey parents Allie and Bama protect and incubate their eggs and then nurture their babies, Ossie and Aubrie, until the kids spent more time away from the nest than in it. Typical teenagers.
While ospreys migrate south during the fall and winter months, many that live in milder climates, like here in the Gulf of Mexico, tend to stay local. We can’t be sure what our osprey family will do in the next several months, but chances are that Ossie and Aubrie will work on perfecting their flying skills and prepare to find mates of their own.
Since osprey couples tend to nest in the same location year after year, we can hope that Allie and Bama make their way back to their nest in Orange Beach next spring to raise more babies.
More Popular than the Kardashians
The live nature show was broadcast to the world via a VD8363 Outdoor Web Camera mounted on a public building in the City of Orange Beach, Alabama, and aimed at an active osprey nesting platform. The high-definition camera, just like the type used by security companies, was hardwired for internet and power.
Due to the widespread popularity of the show, the bandwidth (the rate of data transfer) was increased to maintain the excellent quality of the video image, an expense covered by the City of Orange Beach and The Nature Conservancy.
Viewership per day varied, but was always high – ranging from 1,234 to 6,500+ people. Schools from as far away as Wisconsin and West Virginia even tuned in to watch the show.
The camera was a huge hit among our Facebook followers, as well. I’ve never seen so many comments and questions from fans who wanted to know how to tell the male and female apart, when the eggs would hatch, how much they ate, what they ate. It’s been a really fun and educational way to engage with our Facebook friends. In all, the osprey posts averaged 125 engaged users per post and reached an average 1,700 people.
Second Season in Talks for 2014
With the technology already in place and the undeniable popularity of the osprey cam, all of the partners want to continue this show next spring. But to live stream the high-quality video image, funds are needed. So we’re in the process of trying to raise the money to continue and even improve upon this project in 2014, as well as fund a range of restoration projects throughout the Gulf of Mexico.