Zoom in on this NC bird of prey’s nest. You might get to watch the babies hatching.

Zoom in on this NC bird of prey’s nest. You might get to watch the babies hatching.
A recently installed live cam captured this image of an osprey with a catfish in a Lake Norman osprey nesting platform. A male osprey delivered the fish to his mate. (Credit: N.C. Wildlife Federation)

CHARLOTTE, NC (Joe Marusak/The Charlotte Observer) - Catch a rare live view of a North Carolina bird of prey and her eggs — all from the comfort of your living room.

Volunteer conservationists have installed a live cam of a Lake Norman osprey and her three eggs.

The camera has drawn more than 120,000 views since going live on March 28, longtime Lake Norman conservationist Billy Wilson said Friday. Wilson coordinated the project.

Watch the camera on the websites of the N.C. Wildlife Federation and its Lake Norman Wildlife Conservationists chapter.

A woman in Las Vegas, Nev., who is homebound because of a disability, thanked the group online for the free up-close look at nature. "Her view is the neon signs and the cars along the Las Vegas Strip," Wilson said.

The osprey's nest is on a 30-foot-tall platform built years ago by volunteers with Lake Norman Wildlife Conservationists, a chapter of the nonprofit, Charlotte-based N.C. Wildlife Federation. The camera zooms down from a new 40-foot pole.

The babies are expected to hatch in about a month, and a naming contest will be held online, said Tim Gestwicki, federation executive director. Mom and dad will be named next week, he said.

Gestwicki said he hopes the cam inspires more people to volunteer on wildlife and other conservation efforts. The local chapter raised $15,000 for the project in March, with Stutts Marina in Mooresville a separate major contributor, he said.

The nesting platform, in shallow water surrounding a small wooded island, is one of at least 85 that federation volunteers have built in the past decade on Lake James, Mountain Island Lake, Lake Wylie and Lake Norman, he said. Most are on Lake Norman, the largest manmade lake in North Carolina.

The platforms protect against predators such as black snakes and raccoons, Gestwicki said.

"The program has proven highly successful as nearly all the platforms erected support nesting ospreys year after year," he said. "The young birds fledge (develop feathers) in the summer, and migrate – often to Central and South America – in the fall, and they return back to their nesting sites every March."