Chesapeake Bay’s health reflected in live cams as birds of prey bounce back

WASHINGTON — Area bird nests built everywhere from the top of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to towering electric line platforms reflect the power of conservation efforts and the health of the Chesapeake Bay.

“It’s always spectacular when one of them comes in with fish in their talons and once the chicks hatch of course they’re feeding the chicks,” says David Malmquist, communications director for the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

That scene will play out live in coming months on bird cameras throughout the Chesapeake Bay Region. 

“The peregrine falcon and osprey cam capture two of our nation’s greatest conservation success stories,” says Joel Dunn, president of the Chesapeake Conservancy.

Use of the insecticide DDT decimated the nation’s ospreys, falcons and eagles in the ’50s and ’60s before the product was banned. Numbers for birds of prey have since rebound.

“We almost lost the ospreys — in the northeast they really took a hit,” Dunn says.

Now the Chesapeake Bay area has the most dense osprey population in the world and that also says something about the richness of local waters.

“Ospreys, because they eat nothing but fish are a great barometer and visible symbol of all that fish life that’s going on underneath the bay that you can’t otherwise see,” Malmquist says referring to blue crabs and oysters in addition to fish the birds may or may not eat.



Now, even the Bay Bridge bird nest camera that’s on for only 15 minutes a day Monday through Thursday has a devoted following.

“The birds are doing well,” says Maryland Transportation Authority spokesman Tamory Winfield.

Because the camera that captures the Bay Bridge nest spends most of its time focused on Route 50 traffic, Winfield says MDTA tries to keep fans informed through pictures and posts on social media.

“Oh yes, we get lots of retweets, lots of favorites, lots of likes on Facebook — it’s definitely a crowd pleaser.”

Check out these area live cams:

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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