It started with a children’s program at the Central Library. A bird program for Youth Services in the spring had Children’s staff exploring something called birdcams. Universities, Chambers of Commerce, etc. install cameras in view of a niche or a nest known to be a roosting spot for Peregrine Falcons, Eagles, and wild birds of all kinds. Enthusiasts can watch the eggs hatch, the parents feed the chicks, and even witness them fledge. The birds are no worse for the wear, and humans can marvel at the intimate glimpse into their very private world.
The unknown factor about this spectacle is that it is addictive. Cornell Lab Bird Cams spotlight a Great Blue Heron nest, and a Red-Tailed Hawk nest, and are partnered with a couple of other species located outside the area. Their site have a sign-in feature, so enthusiasts all over the world can chat with each other and exclaim over anything that goes on in the nest. We can witness the parents regurgitating fish to feed the baby herons, listen (yes! even sound!) to the accompanying wildlife calls, and watch the babies interacting with each other. Once we even got to see all five of the baby herons watch an airplane fly across the sky – THAT lit up the chat board!
Cornell’s Hawk Cam is located right on the campus. The downy-white chicks huddle together while the parents take turns feeding them whatever is on the menu that day – snakes, squirrels, rabbits.
SUNY at Buffalo has a Peregrine Falcon Cam, located right on their premises. These are endangered birds. Four tiny chicks sleep huddled together, wait for Mom or Dad to deliver the next meal, flap their little wings as they grow.
You can watch all the wobbly cuteness at http://www.buffalo.edu/falconcam.html
Cornell Hawk cam: http://cams.allaboutbirds.org/channel/16/Red-tailed_Hawks/
And for the herons: http://cams.allaboutbirds.org/channel/8/Great_Blue_Herons/
Be forewarned: after a day of Blue Heron nest-watching, the sounds of the neighboring Canadian geese, bullfrogs and peepers will echo in your head. You may also experience intense emotional involvement in their development. Enjoy!
Caroline Poppendeck, Librarian