Voyeur – voi-yur – noun – an obsessive observer of sordid or sensational subjects.
Of all the many incredible and wonderful uses of technology, nest cams must certainly be among the most enjoyable. We live in an age when one can literally manage their entire life without leaving the house. It should come as no surprise then, that we have reached the point where it is possible for the general public to observe up close and personal, the goings on in the natural world, through well placed cameras which stream their content live 24 hours per day.
Every spring, during the nesting period, cameras are set up near known nesting sites and the observation begins. Universities, organizations and even the general public are able to share their nest cams with anyone who is interested. This year, there are a number of nest cams that I have been watching.
The great blue herons nest is in a large dead oak tree in sapsucker woods in the middle of a pond. The tree has stood for over fifty years, and this particular pair of herons has been nesting there since 2009. Each year the pair have raised four young, and this year they have two eggs so far, and we hope, more to come.
“Big Red” and “Ezra” are a pair of red tailed hawks who have been nesting on a light pole 80 feet above Cornell University’s athletic fields for four years now. The pair is banded, and estimated to be approx 6 and 9 years old. Currently there are three eggs in the nest.
This nest contains two tiny hatchlings. The nest itself is only about an inch and a half in diameter. Mom has been happily sitting on the nest, but frequently zips away to grab some food, so it is very easy to get a look at the young.
In Columbus Ohio, the Dept of Natural Resources has placed this nest cam near the nest of a pair of falcons. The camera is accompanied by a blog which contains important updates and significant events, as well as various video clips and still photos.
This fantastic cam features a full view of two young eagles in the nest. The pair are still fluffy grey balls of downy fuzz, and the proud parents are working around the clock. The moderated chat is very informative and the site contains a wealth of information on the study and conservation of Bald Eagles.
It is interesting to note the sheer number of people logging in to check on the status of these nests. Some contain chats that run simultaneously beside the video, and the same names tend to pop up again and again.
Through these cameras we are able to see the entire life cycles of various species, from egg, to parents. We learn about nesting behaviour, courtship, mating, egg laying, pipping, fledging and more, all with a birds eye view. The birds don’t appear to notice, or care about the presence of the cameras. Having some foreign equipment suddenly appear at their nesting site has not discouraged them.
While watching nesting cameras is not a sport for the impatient soul, many feature additional previously recorded clips of major events, such as egg laying and pipping that can be watched after the fact for those who missed it live. Most camera watchers check in periodically to catch updates and see how things are going.
I can’t think of a better way to enjoy my morning coffee.
“I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.” ~Henry David Thoreau