Our favorite winged couple has returned to their East End love nest.
George and Gracie, the ospreys who became a local sensation last summer via live-feed webcam, have returned to the North Fork from their winter retreat down south, and Gracie has already laid two eggs.
Before the ospreys’ stardom began last summer, Tommy Aprea and his neighbor and friend of 45 years Paul Henry spotted one of these native raptors perched at the peak of a television tower behind their house. Considering that it might be a female osprey looking for a place to nest and lay her eggs, they soon conceived the idea to build a wooden platform at the top of the tower. Once the platform was installed, a pair of osprey immediately began appearing there.
Aprea then thought of the idea of installing a camera that could broadcast the osprey and their nesting rituals online. Thus ospreyzone.com was born, receiving widespread enthusiasm from residents all over Long Island. Henry, who is a property tax consultant, sponsors the site through his company Tax Reduction Services.
This year, Henry said he and Aprea lowered the nest 20 feet and emptied it of the previous season’s nest so the birds could build anew. And that’s exactly what they did, Henry says. “They built the [new] nest in a couple days,” Henry explains. “They also seem a bit calmer…it just seems a lot less stress the second time around,” Henry adds, noting that the ospreys’ experience in the spot has clearly made things easier this year.
“I can’t tell you what you feel when you watch this stuff, it’s just unexplainable,” Aprea says in a video on the site. “Ospreys were endangered for such a long period of time and finally they’re making a comeback, and everybody has as much enthusiasm that’s working on this project as the people are that are watching it!”
Since launching last year, ospreyzone.com has created an archive of George and Gracie’s history, uploading videos of the pair constructing their new nest, their eggs hatching, the feeding of their babies and their departure last fall.
The website also features a documentary on the history of Long Island’s ospreys, Pandion, and several links to National Geographic and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to further educate the site’s visitors on the importance of the osprey and our native wildlife as a whole.
“The whole key is getting involved, other birds that are endangered, other things that need the attention of people to help it—anything that’s going to bring attention to the plight of wildlife,” Aprea says.
To get a look at this local marvel and keep updated on season two of George and Gracie’s daily adventures, a live stream can be viewed 24-hours a day at ospreyzone.com.