Plenty of Action at the RVA Osprey Cam

What a difference three weeks makes!

On March 3 we announced the return of Maggie and Walker, the ospreys we’ve watched at the RVA Osprey Cam for three seasons now, from their wintering grounds in some warmer clime. Here’s what the nest looked like a couple of days into their rebuild on the old bridge piling in the middle of the James River in downtown Richmond.

The osprey nest in early March.

This morning the nest is a very different place, as you can see below.

Ready for eggs…

Ospreys certainly adhere to the maxim that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. To them, a plastic bag (and a Kroger apron!) is just good nest-building material. Stay tuned-in as mating and egg-laying will be happening any day.

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Ospreys Maggie, Walker Return to Their RVA Nest!

Four years ago, we erected a camera on an abandoned bridge piling in downtown Richmond in the hopes that the pair of ospreys that had nested there for years would return from their wintering grounds to make babies in RVA.

And they did! It was amazing watching their daily efforts at nest building, incubating eggs in fair and foul weather, feeding their young fish caught below them in the James River and more. We even had an online naming contest for the adults (because they’re the ones that return to the same nest year after year), with the winning names — Maggie and Walker — receiving hundreds of votes.

Three bald eagle eggs at our Maryland camera near the Potomac River.

They’ve returned every year since, but we still feel a sense of anticipation and a bit of dread every year around this time. Will they show up? Are they both still healthy? Well, we’re happy to say, Maggie and Walker are back. They were first spotted this past Sunday on the nest near Brown’s Island and the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge. Another nesting season is upon us!

Check out the action, and the sister bald eagle cam on the Potomac River (where three eggs have already been laid), at

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Maymont is for Citizen-Science (and Bird) Lovers

Have you heard of the Great Backyard Bird Count? It’s a citizen science project in ornithology and also a great way to introduce kids to the wonders of nature and science.

Conducted annually in mid-February, the event is supported by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society. During the four-day event, birdwatchers all around the world are invited to count and report details of birds in the area in which they live. Data is submitted online via a web interface and compiled for use in scientific research. The GBBC was the first citizen science project to collect bird sightings online and display results in near real-time.

If all this sounds great, but you have no birding experience, have no fear! Maymont has your back. This Saturday the 15th you can explore the grounds on a fun, informative and guided birdwatching walk. Look for native species, enjoy the sights and sounds of nature, and collect valuable information about winter feathered residents for the national program. The walk is designed for all ages and skill levels. Bring your own binoculars for the best views; Maymont will have some starter binoculars to share. Register online by February 14. Walk-ups welcome, space permitting.

Click here for more.

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Incredible Action at the RVA Osprey Cam!

If you were up early watching the RVA Osprey Cam, you would have seen something truly amazing. Our adult ospreys, Maggie and Walker, back for a third year of nesting and chick rearing, were busy doing what they do: taking turns sitting on the three eggs Maggie recently laid.

Maggie was on the eggs just after 7 a.m. when she decided to get up, maybe to go fishing. Who knows? But the eggs she laid were resting on an old green sweatshirt the birds had brought in as nest material. As she rose, her talon got stuck on the sweatshirt. She appeared to hesitate, knowing the sweatshirt was attached to her. Then she flew off! Two of the eggs slid off the sweatshirt and came to rest back on the middle of the nest. But the third, caught in the sweatshirt’s hood, was deposited at the very edge of the nest on the outer most branches.

Click here to see the incredible video.

Now, hours later, Maggie and Walker have both resumed their incubation duties, but only on the two eggs in the middle of the nest. The third egg remains on the nest rails.

Y’all, who needs Animal Planet when we have this incredible natural pageant around us every day?

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RVAOspreyCam Back in Action…and so are the Birds!

This past Friday our old friends Maggie and Walker returned to Richmond from their long sojourn south (where exactly, we don’t know; possibly South America). They immediately set to work rebuilding the nest on an old bridge piling in the James River that the RVAOspreyCam has showcased live for the past two nesting seasons.

Their timing was impeccable. Just two weeks earlier the RichmondOutside team was on top of that old bridge stanchion making some fixes to our camera setup, switching out the battery, etc. I’m not sure our osprey friends could have chosen a spot that better showcases what makes Richmond unique. It is simply amazing to stand out there, 40 feet above the river, and take in the James River Park and the city behind it while walkers traverse the nearby T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge and boaters pass below you on their way to ClassIII/IV rapids.

When I got home that day, I looked back at my notes from last year and found that Maggie laid her first egg on March 16. We look to be on a similar schedule in 2019. You can follow the action at, where our our other bird cams are featured. We’ve got a peregrine falcon cam on a nest in Newport News, a camera on the Cooper’s island eagle nest here in Richmond (though no eagles returned this year), and an eagle cam on a nest in Md. across the Potomac River from Quantico. That one is particularly exciting because the female is sitting on three eggs, the first of which should hatch March 7 (tomorrow)!

So, head over to to follow all these wonderful raptors in various stages of nesting/egg laying/chick rearing.

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Just 80 Miles from RVA, Widewater Becomes Virginia’s 38th State Park

Governor Ralph Northam today officially opened Widewater State Park in Stafford County, the Commonwealth’s 38th state park. Widewater State Park covers 1,100 acres, including two miles of water frontage along the Potomac River and Aquia Creek.

Widewater State Park in Stafford County is just 1 hour and 30 minutes from Richmond. Credit: Va. State Parks

“Virginia’s state parks attract millions of visitors each year, serving as affordable vacation destinations and adding to the economic vitality of the communities where they are located,” said Governor Northam. “With the dedication of this new state park we build upon Virginia’s legacy of conservation and environmental stewardship and expand opportunities for the public to experience our Commonwealth’s natural beauty and renowned system of state parks.”

The property was originally purchased by Dominion Energy as a site for a proposed power plant. The property was later approved for development of 700 residential units, a resort conference center and extensive infrastructure. Dominion sold the property for $1 million less than the assessed value in 2013. The Trust for Public Land and Stafford County assisted in the transaction.

“The development of a low-impact state park on waterfront property significantly reduces the possibility of increased water quality degradation,” said Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew Strickler. “More than 73,000 acres of Virginia are protected as state parks, and only a small fraction of the property is ever improved or developed. We are pleased that this land will be protected for generations to come.”

The visitor center at Widewater State Park. Credit: Va. State Parks

Funding for the $6.1 million property was from Virginia Public Building Authority bonds and a federal appropriation of $225,000 secured by Virginia’s congressional delegation through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program.

“State parks host 10 million visitors each year,” said Virginia State Parks Director Craig Seaver. “Widewater State Park allows us to provide water access in one of the most heavily populated areas of Virginia while maintaining the serenity people expect when they visit one of our 38 state parks.”

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RVAOspreyCam Season 2 Wraps Up; Eagle Cam Coming Soon!

A closeup of Maggie on the RVA Osprey Cam.

It was another successful season at, one that is now winding down as ospreys all over the region begin their annual migration to South America. You might still see a few here or there, but in a month to six weeks most will be on their way south.

For the second year in a row, Maggie and Walker, the pair we feature at the osprey cam (ospreys return to the same nest location every year), produced three eggs, two of which hatched and became viable chicks. Like clockwork, the parents returned to the nest in late February (early in the season compared to most local ospreys); the eggs were laid in mid-March; and the two chicks hatched in late April. While it was a wet spring and early summer, fishing was good in the James River, and Maggie and Walker had no trouble feeding this year’s offspring. The chicks grew steadily and fledged in June.

Maggie feeds the two chicks just days after they were born in April.

Every year presents its own technical challenges for an endeavor like this, and 2018 was no exception. We added a microphone to our setup this year, but on rainy days the mic cable would pickup a local radio frequency so viewers would be listening to a radio station if they turned the volume on! We’ve remedied that we hope with a different microphone for next year.

Another issue we ran into was a Virginia creeper vine that reached mammoth proportions and covered about a third of our solar panels for about the last quarter of the viewing season. That meant the panels couldn’t collect as much solar energy as normal and the batteries that powered the camera would die every evening. The next morning we’d have to wait as the sun climbed high enough to re-fill the batteries and turn the camera back on. Good old, Mother Nature!

We sent a crew out to the cam site a couple of weeks ago, and pulled out the vines (after getting attacked by a swarm of wasps also nesting up there!). We hope that problem is fixed for next year.

The osprey cam setup is located just downstream of the T. Tyler Poterfield Memorial Bridge near Brown’s Island.

All in all, it was another rewarding year showcasing these beautiful raptors which choose to make their summer home in downtown Richmond. But they’re not the only raptors for whom that’s true. Starting this fall you’ll be able to watch the Cooper’s Island bald eagle nest just upstream of the Nickel Bridge. That’s right, we’re adding an eagle cam!

Bald eagles return to their nests sooner than ospreys — like before Thanksgiving. So we’ll have the eagle cam up and running by next month. There are only two bald eagle nests in city limits, so this promises to be exciting. You’ll be able to find all of our cams (including our Newport News peregrine falcon cam) at

We will certainly have more on the eagle cam project during and after the install. Stay tuned!

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Riverrock, Wildlife, and Supporting Your ‘Friends’

It was fun to head out to Riverrock on Saturday and Sunday to take in all that RVA’s adventure sports scene has to offer. In a couple of hours on both days, my kids and I watched bouldering, slacklining, bmx biking, kayaking, standup paddleboarding and dog jumping. And the kids participated in a number of those disciplines through the “Interactive Village.”

Of course, it was also fun to peak over at the site that’s clearly visible from the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge. A couple of people asked me what I was pointing at to my kids, and were blown away when I explained. There’s nothing better than opening people’s eyes to the wild wonders of Richmond, especially when they can experience those wonders right in the middle of downtown.

I mentioned to those folks that the osprey cam wouldn’t exist without the generous support of the Friends of the James River Park and sent them to find the Friends’ Riverrock booth at Tredegar to learn more. And, of course, supporting our RVAOspreyCam effort is just the tip of the Friends’ iceberg. That’s why I’ve included the above video. It’s part of the group’s Science in the Park push to show people, through video camera traps, all the incredible wildlife that’s right under our noses in the amazing 550-acre series of greenspaces called the James River Park. Check it (and all the other videos) out and considering becoming a member!

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Strange Happenings at the RVAOspreyCam

There have been some interesting developments at the RVAOspreyCam this morning. Around mid-morning we decided to use our camera’s sweet zoom function to get a closeup of the two chicks being fed by Maggie, their mother. All of a sudden Walker, the father, came into the picture with a large mat of grasses and placed it on top of the two chicks and the third egg that has yet to hatch. There has been much speculation in our chat room about why an osprey adult would do that, but no consensus opinion has emerged. Currently one of the chicks has been able to wriggle free enough to receive a feeding, but the other has not.

Very strange stuff…

Part of one of the chicks can be seen below the mat of grasses in this picture. The other, and an egg, are underneath.

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First Egg Hatches at!

Yes, indeed, folks, we have good news to report. Some time last night one of the first two osprey eggs showcased at hatched. We don’t know if it was the first or the second egg Maggie (the female osprey) laid because they were both within the 34-40-day window in which osprey eggs usually hatch. Here are some pics. And there are two more eggs that could hatch, so keep checking back!



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