Bird Cams Are All the Rage

7:39 PM

As birders we are accustomed to watching our subjects from afar and keeping a distance from their private lives. However, easily available cameras and free internet video streaming (from sites like USTREAM) have recently allowed public access to the private lives of birds. We can see all the intimate parts of a bird's life without even leaving home or packing binoculars.

A couple of nights ago I was watching the national news. The last story of the evening was about a nest camera following a family of Bald Eagles. The nest cam was put up by the Raptor Resource Project a non-profit group, in Decorah, Iowa, working to restore the midwest population of Peregrine Falcons and other raptors. It has quickly become an internet sensation. With over 32 million views on USTEAM, these eagles are the next internet celebrities. Why so popular you ask? It might have something to do with the 3 Bald Eagle chicks that hatched in the nest on April 2, 3 and 6, 2011. These little guys are cute! You can watch and hear them all day and night long. At night the infrared cameras (which are not visible to the eagles) allow audiences to continue watching them. It's pretty memorizing and slightly addicting to watch these eagles. Watching them regularly almost makes you feel like a part of the family. I just watched a parent feed the chicks for about 15 minutes and I'm not even sure that I blinked during that time. Don't take my word for it have a look at the live stream below and see what you think. Be warned with such a popular family of birds a commercial cannot be avoided. Unfortunately you have to sit through a 30-45 second commercial before the video will stream.

Video streaming by Ustream

The Hancock Wildlife Foundation (HWF), in Surrey, BC, is also jumping on the Bald Eagle nest cam band wagon. They have several cameras set up across the 5 acres of wildlife sanctuary, and in their bird pens with local and foreign birds. Again take some time to see the video stream below which follows several nesting birds.

Free live streaming by Ustream

I think it's neat as a birder to experience birds in this way. I feel like I'm birding, even while I'm inside working at my desk. While it does not replace the real experience of seeing birds outdoors, I personally enjoy seeing the private lives of these animals and learning more about them,via live stream video. Still...I can't help but feel that the live video feed needs a catchy name. Perhaps the Eagle Shore?

This is one reality show I'm not giving up anytime soon!

Happy Birding!

~Kristen Martyn

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