Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Perching in eagles' nests

A couple of weeks ago, a nesting eagle family in Decorah, Iowa, was nearly as ubiquitous in the national media as Charlie Sheen.

I don't know what it was about that particular nest that generated so much attention. It does have an excellent camera view and some experts who answer questions in a moderated chat. They have a big following in classrooms, and I'm guessing they also benefited from some excellent public relations contacts. They were already drawing tens of thousands of viewers while the parents incubated the eggs. From April 2 to April 6, when the first of three fluffy chicks began pecking its way out of its shell, as many as 150,000 viewers watched at any given time. On April 3, both NBC and CBS featured the nest and its popularity, and local stations across the country picked up the story.

White Rock eagle cam
In fact there are dozens of nest cams focused on eagles, peregrine falcons, owls, and other feathered friends. And there are people who watch day after day while young are in the nest. I've been known to watch a bit, myself.

My favorite few cams right now show a progression of baby-eagle growth.

Hornby Island  (British Columbia) is in full expectant-parent mode; there should be new hatchlings by the end of this week. The site, which got me hooked on eagle-watching last season, is notable for free-flowing round-the-clock chat, and a cluster of local experts answer newcomers' questions.

If you're eager to see babies, White Rock (British Columbia) has three fluffballs that are just days old. This site also has exquisite camera quality, both closeup and wide-angle. Got time on your hands? They are looking for volunteers to record nest observations.

Stop in at Decorah, Iowa, to see how quickly eaglets grow. Three weeks after bursting on the scene, they are gaining size and strength, showing some sibling rivalry, and looking a bit  like gawky little chickens with overgrown wings. Due to heavy traffic on the site, I never got into the chat room.

Norfolk, Virginia, had three fast-growing eaglets that hatched in mid-March. Sadly, just after I posted the original version of this entry, the mother was killed in a collision with an airplane landing nearby. The authorities concluded that the male could not rear these youngsters alone, so they have removed them from the nest and will raise and then release them. The site has news items and archives as well as a moderated discussion where experts answer selected questions.

Decorah, early April
There are lots more, of course, and each one has interesting - and sometimes dramatic - stories to show and tell. Eagles live a hard life, and watchers sometimes get their hearts broken when a much-loved eaglet (or parent) meets an early and tragic end. But in the meanwhile, there's a lot to enjoy, from eager peeps to healthy poop shots to the gentle way the parents tend their young.

11 comments:

Kat said...

I am so glad you turned me on to this site (Hornsby) a while back. I check in on them everyday and waiting for the little ones. Thanks.

Red Shoes said...

I sighted a Bald Eagle a few years ago down here in the Mississippi Delta. There isn't anything more majestic than that!

~shoes~

Thom Brown said...

We had one stop by campus briefly last year. So majestic.

Did you get the email I sent you yesterday?

DJan said...

I'm glad you are watching these and enjoying them, Nancy. I will watch them and hear about them through your updates, since I am one of those whose broken heart just can't stand to be broken again so soon!

grammy said...

I have done this before...and it is always so much fun.
Love to see them and learn about them.
Thanks for the site information.

Leah Rubin said...

Isn't it spectacular? It seems spiritual, in a way, to watch this take place... We have a pair of owls in the woods behind our house, and love to watch them. I'm hoping for babies for them, too!

Deb Shucka said...

These sites are so addictive. I love that we have the chance to watch such magnificent creatures up close and personal. In a world that often seems not to value nature, the fact that so many are captivated by the sites is encouraging.

Paul C said...

Fascinating. And you have directed me to some of the best observation posts on the continent. Excellent post! As a footnote my wife and I have seen the repeated sighting of a bald eagle in our area. Is a nest nearby?

IndigoWrath said...

Hey Nancy! The White Rock eagles are so beautiful! Thanks for sharing this with us! Indigo

gayle said...

I love watching these things!! Life is a wonderful thing!

Jenny Schouten Short said...

I'm too far south in Texas for eagles but we have storks in Holland. I will see if there are webcams for them when I return next week. I like you little fluffy chicks. xxoo Jenny

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