Live from the eagle's nest
A few weeks ago I wrote about the live camera feed placed by employees of the Pennsylvania Game Commission near a bald eagle’s nest near Pittsburgh. At the time, the female eagle was incubating three eggs and not much was happening. Images from the camera have been live streamed on the Game Commission’s website since December and public interest has continued to grow, not only in Pennsylvania but around the world. It’s a safe bet by the time this is published more than a million people will have tuned in. By the first week of April, all three eggs hatched and it’s been fascinating to watch the eaglets feed and grow as the adults bring them food.
One morning I watched as the male eagle suddenly appeared with what looked to be a small, road-killed animal. The adult eagles proceeded to shred it and feed the carcass to the hungry eaglets. The next time I tuned in the male had just arrived at the nest with a fresh fish. The fish appeared to be a sucker about a foot long and it, too, was shredded by the adult birds and fed to their offspring. The third time I checked in, the nest was littered with the white feathers from a hapless gull. It’s no secret nature can be cruel, and those who were tuned in at the time were able to watch it at its gruesome best – or worst, depending on your point of view. The gull was still alive when it was brought to the nest by the male and the adult eagles systematically pulled it apart and fed it to the waiting eaglets. The most interesting aspect of this eagle watching is that you’ll never know what you’ll see.
In watching, the largest and most active of the young eagles seemed to be getting most of the food, and it remains to be seen how things will ultimately play out and whether all three chicks will fledge from the nest in the next few months.
Watching the eagle family is certainly entertaining, but how the camera got into position to record their daily activities is a story just as fascinating. According to reports sent out by the Game Commission, placing the camera was no easy feat. Last December, workers ran more than 275 feet of cable from a battery power supply to the camera and then a worker had to climb 75 feet up the tree with the cable to install the camera. The workers had to be careful because some eagles are more tolerant than others when it comes to human activity. There was concern that any action by humans could possibly flush an adult eagle from the nest, thus threatening the successful hatching of the eggs and subsequent fledging of the eaglets. The camera was placed about 20 yards away from the nest and in no way interferes with the day-to-day lives of the young birds or the adult eagles. To see how the camera was placed into position, go to the Commission’s youtube page and view the three-minute video documenting the camera’s installation. The page can easily be found online here.
For those who missed tuning in the first time, the live eagle viewing can still be accessed by going to the Pennsylvania Game Commission web site at: www.pgc.state.pa.us. Scroll down the page and click the “play” icon to view the eagle family as they live out their daily lives. Plans continue to live stream footage from the nest around the clock from the site along the Monongahela River in the Hays section of Pittsburgh.
Adults aren’t just the only ones who find the website interesting; kids in particular find it mesmerizing as well. To date, more than 800,000 viewers have tuned in. Were you one of them?