What a difference a few months makes.
The baby osprey that cracked its way out of its rust-and-cream colored shell almost 8 weeks ago is now airborne.
Visitors to the Friends of Island Beach's webcam at around 2 p.m. today were treated to the site of an empty nest perched 40 feet up in the air next to the park's Interpretive Center.
It was only a matter of time.
The fledgling - the only one of three eggs to hatch - had been revving up for her first venture in the the sky for more than a week. She flapped her wings and teetered on the edge of the nest for days.
"Oh my heart," wrote Cynthis Duncan Kelva on the group's Facebook page. "Baby bird took off from the nest at 13:21 p.m. Mommy stood there searching the sky and then she took off too. Feeling sad!"
Ocean County residents and beyond have watched the osprey couple since they first flew to the nest back in mid-March. They watched as the birds carefully constructed a fortress of branches on the nest 40 feet up in the air near the park's interpretive center.
The saga all comes courtesy of the Friends of Island Beach State Park's osprey cam. The baby bird hatched on May 27.
The non-profit Friends group purchased the camera and the solar panels to power the camera for about $10,000 back in October to prepare for the spring return. The camera is equipped with night vision and runs 24 hours a day, said Rita Carey, who chairs the Friends' "Osprey Cam" committee.
"It takes a lot of focus and team work to monitor the camera and respond when needed, so please consider making a donation to FOIBSP," the Facebook page states. Thank you for your continued support!"
You can watch the osprey cam streaming live on the Friends' website, here, and follow their progress as they prepare for and raise their chicks.
For more information on the Friends, visit their website, here.