SKIDAWAY ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - Back to back to back hurricane seasons have taken their toll, not only on people, but for a well-watched nesting site on Skidaway Island.
A group is hoping their efforts will encourage some feathered friends to return to the island.
“The opportunity to see these animals up close is really astonishing," said Rick Cunningham with Skidaway Audubon.
Rick Cunningham is the volunteer coordinator of the Landings Bird Cam Project. They needed to move the entire set up from the hurricane and beetle battered tree. He’s an engineer by trade but needed a little help building a bird of prey house.
“There’s a US publication from Pueblo, Colo. on that subject and it shows how an eagle’s nest would be built,” said Cunningham. “Dozens of eagles nests have been built from that plan and they’ve had various levels of success and almost all of them have had eagles.”
“We’re always interested to know if the eagles are coming back; that’s really what it was built for,” said Landings resident Lee Forbes.
Lee Forbes has been bird watching for decades. Eagles built the nest in 2014, and that time, Skidaway Audubon and the Cornell Lab of Orinthology installed two cameras above the nest located on the Palmetto golf course near the eastern marsh. The pair didn’t return, but great horned owls took over the nest, and for consecutive years, ospreys have nested and laid eggs.
“It’s a fascinating nature land we have here,” said Forbes.
Now that the new deck is built 75 feet up with three cameras and their own surge protector under lock and key, it’s a waiting game and the builder thinks the players may not be our national bird.
“My personal belief is that if owls don’t nest this year, that osprey will nest because it’s such an ideal location. Once they’ve nested in it, and built it up and made it a real bird’s nest, not by human beings, I think it’ll be even more popular,” said Cunningham. “It also helps that we have a great sushi bar next to the nest.” By sushi bar he means the marsh filled with fish, as ospreys’ nickname is sea hawk/fish hawk.
And as seen on prior landings camera video, osprey are just as entertaining as eagles and the owls were a hoot as well.
You can watch the nest 24-7 here. Cornell Lab approved watchers from Billings, Mont. to Tampa, Fla. will capture video and pictures and tweet as well.
Cunningham credits many people helping build a large bird nest five stories in the air including CCA Skidaway Island, Ogeechee Audubon, Wild Birds Unlimited, HDTap, Savannah and Georgia Golf Course Superintendents Association just to name a few.