Our beloved and famous ospreys, Reuben and Cherise, have arrived at Lake Norman! There’s already been a lot of action too. They’re tending to their nest and getting ready for young osprey to hatch this spring. No eggs yet but we should see anywhere from one to four in April or May with hatchlings in June or July. So keep coming back to see how things are progressing.
The North Carolina Wildlife Federation (NCWF) live action osprey cam was made possible through grants from the Catawba-Wateree Habitat Enhancement Program and support through NCWF members and individual donors. The program has helped osprey each year for a decade with nesting platforms in Lake James, Mountain Island Lake, Lake Wylie, and Lake Norman–all reservoirs of the Catawba River.
Volunteers from NCWF wildlife community chapters, Lake Norman Wildlife Conservationists and Piedmont Area Wildlife Stewards, constructed the long lasting metal platforms deployed by barge. The 30-foot poles are driven into the water adjacent to island shorelines in sites vetted for biological and navigational suitability, but far enough so that their unencumbered height is attractive to the birds while also protecting against predators like black snakes and raccoons. The program is highly successful. Nearly all the platforms support nesting ospreys year after year. The young birds fledge in the summer, and migrate often to Central and South America in the fall (the females usually leave about a month before the males), and they return back to their nesting sites every March.
The thriving osprey population on Lake Norman is a testament to the effectiveness of the mission of the North Carolina Wildlife Federation: to protect, conserve and restore the wildlife and habitats of North Carolina.
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) are prevalent these days along the 225-mile long Catawba River which runs from western NC down into South Carolina. This wasn’t always the case. As late as the early 1980’s, osprey populations on the Catawba River, like in many places, were non-existent or minimal at best. This was due to environmental factors, most notably widespread usage of the pesticide DDT, which weakens eggshells. Through a concerted effort to re-introduce osprey populations, their numbers have increased greatly.
These platforms help provide needed nesting sites on large open bodies of water and healthy prey options, primarily live fish. Osprey will catch fish from the water using their long, hooked talons. An osprey can plunge so forcefully into the water that it will completely submerge! When carrying their prey back to the nest, osprey will arrange the fish so that it is facing upright, head forward. Occasionally, an osprey will catch and eat a snake, eel, or even a frog.
Help us spread the word, far and wide, about this unique opportunity to view wildlife in their natural habitat by following us on Facebook, sharing and commenting on our posts, sign-up to receive periodic updates on Reuben and Cherise, and consider making an investment in NCWF to support the program.