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UM News
June 13, 2013

MISSOULA – Harriet and Ozzie, an adult pair of ospreys nesting high in their perch above the Dunrovin Guest Ranch in Lolo, have been Internet sensations for more than two years. Thanks to a high-resolution webcam placed at the nest by University of Montana researchers, the entire world is able to watch the birds return to the nest each spring and follow their saga as they raise their young.

Now, these reality stars will have an opportunity to raise money to support UM’s Wildlife Biology Program – a nod to the researchers who have been instrumental in bringing the birds to the world.

Friends of Dunrovin, a charitable nonprofit organization that supports nature- and animal-based experiential learning programs, will launch a contest June 13 that challenges entrants to guess the date and time of the chick’s first flight from the nest.

Participants can enter their guess online at http://ospreycontests.org. Each entry costs $5, and the person who comes closest to picking the correct date and time of the first flight will split the pot 50-50. Thirty percent of entry fees will benefit UM’s Wildlife Biology Program and 20 percent will go to Friends of Dunrovin for their support of small educational grants.

“This is our first effort to raise funds for charitable nature and animal-based experiential learning programs in Montana,” said SuzAnne Miller, owner of Dunrovin Ranch.  “Whether you’re interested in nature, educational programs, supporting Montana nonprofits, or are just in it for the chance to win some cash, the money will be well-spent.”

Retired Yellowstone ornithologist Terry McEneaney will serve as the contest’s official judge, using his 34 years of observing osprey and the webcam to announce the official date and time of the first flight. 

“Aside from the research opportunities the cameras afford, they offer an incredible opportunity for the world to gain an intimate perspective on an iconic Montana bird,” said Dan Pletscher, director of UM’s Wildlife Biology Program. “We are happy to partner with Dunrovin Ranch on our webcam research project, and we are thrilled to be the beneficiaries of this contest.”

Osprey mate after a courtship ritual that includes sky-dancing above the nest by the male. Clutches usually number from two to four eggs. Incubation takes between 34 and 40 days. This year, Harriet and Ozzie’s eggs hatched on May 28, May 30 and June 1. At seven to eight weeks of age, the young will take their first flight. The contest will run from June 13 to July 2. The osprey can be viewed online at http://daysatdunrovin.com/Home.

For more information about the contest , visit http://ospreycontests.org or call Miller at 406-273-7745.

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Contact: SuzAnne Miller, owner, Dunrovin Ranch, 406-273-7745, dunrovin@bigsky.ne; Emma Bentley, development officer, UM Wildlife Biology Program, 406-243-5208, emma.bentley@mso.umt.edu; After June 17 contact: Dan Pletscher, director, UM Wildlife Biology Program, 406-243-6364, dan.pletscher@umontana.edu.