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Snappy’s camera captures family of Canada geese

by LUKE SEYMOUR Daily Inter Lake
| August 1, 2022 12:00 AM

Although initially installed in early 2015 to offer Montanans a small window into the activities of the local osprey population, the osprey camera at Snappy Sports Senter has outperformed expectations by capturing other noble birds such as eagles, hawks and now a gaggle of Canada geese.

This spring, the Snappy’s live camera captured a family of geese taking up residence on the osprey nest on the southeast corner of the Snappy’s courtyard. Taking advantage of a momentary vacancy left by Duke and Dutchess, the resident osprey couple who have frequented the nest throughout the years, a mated geese couple made their home in the human-made nest and laid five eggs in the spring of 2022. The Snappy’s website blog reports that, although the mother goose was frequently hassled by Dutchess over the past five months, she finally hatched five fluffy yellow baby chicks in May.

An attraction to casual nature fans and hard-core-birders alike, the osprey camera has drawn eyes from all across the country with Snappy’s reporting over 15,000 views in the past 90 days alone. According to Snappy’s owner Jon Lupton, that number only represents a quarter of what has become a global fanbase.

“We’ve ended up on an international birder page,” Lupton said, failing to hide the pride in his voice, “Sixty percent of our views come from the U.S., but France, Canada and Hungary aren’t far behind in terms of eyeballs on the ospreys.”

Jon is a third-generation owner of Snappy’s and says that although his father, BJ Lupton was the initial brains behind the operation, he credits himself and his staff for committing to the necessary research needed to maintain a sufficient wild bird habitat as well as investing in the equipment needed for long-term video live streams and fostering the osprey camera community into what it is today.

“Bird groups, not even in the U.S. but throughout the world, are a pretty intense bunch,” said Lupton. “They really like this stuff.”

Despite the stream’s wildly successful present, Lupton says it’s important to remember its humble beginnings.

“We didn’t have a single bird visit the nest throughout the whole first year,” said Lupton. In fact, it wasn’t until the spring of 2016 when a mated osprey couple occupied the nest after a long winter and hatched three chicks. After that, says Lupton, the osprey camera hit the ground running.

“Ever since then there hasn’t been a year that’s gone by where we haven’t had a pair in the nest and two or three chicks. We’ve been really proud of that progress.”

The live stream is also accompanied by a blog that posts periodically about the condition of the nest’s occupants with some recent posts being about the momentary departure of the mother goose, a post about the father having a few days with the baby chicks to himself and a post announcing a naming contest for the chicks.

The website also posts about a variety of other interests that are important to Snappy’s loyalists, such as fishing reports, updates on Christmas tree permits and the results for this year’s Kids Fishing Fair.

Lupton says that, although there is no specific posting schedule, Snappy’s tries to post about the osprey camera on the website at least once a month.

“It’s still a work in progress,” Lupton said. “But people come to Snappy’s for a lot of reasons. Sometimes they don’t just want fishing gear but they want to know where the best places to fish are. Sometimes they don’t just want hiking boots but know how some of the trails are doing. When you're involved with outdoor activities you're also involved in an outdoor community so that’s what the website is there for.”

In early May, the family of Canada geese finally left the nest and, in turn, so did hundreds of adoring virtual fans. First, the father flew, then the mother, then the goslings, after no shortage of pensive looks over the edge and nervous pacing around the nest, finally followed one by one. The blog reports that no injuries were sustained during the mini-migration and that the family now resides somewhere in Spring Creek.

Although the Snappy’s website has yet to post any updates on osprey blog since May, at the time of this writing a lone osprey has made itself comfortable in the nest and on the live stream. Whether using the nest to find a mate and start a family, or just a place to rest for a couple of days, the osprey can stay however long it needs because according to Jon, the nest, and the live stream, are here to stay.

“We don’t have any plans at the moment to add a second camera,” said Lupton, “but we know how loyal the people who watch this live stream are and we know how attached they are to the birds and we want to make our establishment a home both for the birds and for that community.” He pauses for a moment while thinking, “it’s kind of a two birds one stone kind of deal.”

To view the osprey camera, visit https://www.snappysportsenter.com/info/osprey-camera

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