Wildlife watching from the comfort of home
In the late 1980’s I saw my first wild bald eagle along the Cannonsville Reservoir in Delaware County. What made it even more exciting was that there wasn’t just one eagle but dozens perched in trees along the water. About two summers ago, my brother invited my grandson and me to go fishing on the Susquehanna River near Tunkhannock, Pa. The boat was a “jet boat” with no propeller so we were able to navigate through shallow water far upstream far away from any roads or people. As we motored around the gentle river bends, I couldn’t help but think this was exactly as the Native Americans found the place centuries before. The scenery was beautiful and it was made even more so by the bald eagles we encountered on our river trip north.
Apparently disturbed by the noise of the motor, every once in a while we’d spot an eagle soaring overhead. Perhaps disturbed isn’t a good word; maybe curious would be a better choice, because once they spotted us, the big birds soon disappeared in the forest above the river. These birds were hundreds of feet in the air but there was no mistaking the snow white heads and wide wingspans as bald eagles.
As fascinating as these encounters were, we discovered the Pennsylvania Game Commission has placed a camera in a bald eagle nest built along the Monongahela River in what is known as the Hays section of Pittsburgh. Last year, a young bald eagle fledged from a nest within the city limits of Pittsburgh for the first time in more than 200 years. For months, bird watchers and outdoor enthusiasts watched the event from a distance, but this year a pair of eagles are nesting near the same site and countless more onlookers can follow along but this time the view can be up close and personal.
The Game Commission, in cooperation with Pix Controller Inc., has installed a video camera high above the nest and now viewers can watch the birds do whatever eagles do and they can do it from within the comfort of their own homes. Live footage from the camera is being streamed on the Game Commission's website. The eagle pair’s appearances at the nest have become more and more frequent since the live-streaming began in late December. If that doesn’t generate enough interest, the eagles helped out even further by recently laying an egg in the nest. The hope, of course, is that a healthy eaglet will fledge the nest and the camera will capture every second of it. Nature can be cruel and there can be no guarantees the story will have a happy ending, but the live stream offers a rare, real-life look at an unfolding natural wonder.
Anyone interested in watching the eagles and seeing if the egg hatches can do so by going to the homepage of the Game Commission’s website, www.pgc.state.pa.us. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the “Play” icon to see real-time footage of the nest. The live streaming will be available during periods of good weather but may not be if things begin to tighten up again. Just keep checking back and I’m certain you’ll find the site as fascinating as I did.