It’s windy and I’m worried. Spring is always windy in Eastern Idaho, but this year the blusters started earlier than usual and they’re stronger than normal. The last time we had wind like this, the eagles didn’t make it. That’s why I’m worried.
The two eaglets of 2015 were about two weeks from flying when their nest blew out of an old cottonwood tree crushing them in the collapse. The adults rebuilt the next year and their success with one to three hatchlings is an annual celebration at our house.
We’ve watched the same nest for more than a decade. I shoot photos and video from the ground, but never go over the tree. When someone asks me to fly my drone over the nest, my answer is a stern no. There are a lot less invasive ways to watch what’s going on in an eagle nest. Like watching remotely from bald eagle cams. These cams have become wildly popular.
The cams are getting really active, and it’s fun for the whole family to track the daily dramas. Here are four of my favorites. Let us know what you’re watching in the comments.
Big Bear Eagle Nest Cam
San Bernardino, California
Hands down, Big Bear Eagle Nest Cam is the best eagle cam to watch because of the commentary that comes with it. This camera shows what goes on between Jackie (female) and Shadow (male). The best antics are collected by devoted members of Friends of Big Bear Valley and posted on the organization’s Facebook page. There’s the time Shadow bites Jackie’s tail, the many times Jackie lectures Shadow and that one time Shadow wing swats a flying squirrel super feather fast.
“People are very emotionally connected with the eagles,” says Sandy Steers, Friends of Big Bear Valley Executive Director. “People have been looking to the camera to help them feel better about the world. It’s the one place they go to get uplifted. They go watch Jackie and Shadow.”
Bird watchers suspect Jackie was born in a nearby nest in 2012 as the first bald eagle ever born in the valley. She’s 9 now. Shadow is 7. A permitted eagle handler and certified tree climber installed the solar powered camera on the nest in October 2015.
“We want to educate people about what we have and the nature all around us,” Steers says. “With the eagle cam, people are connecting and seeing what’s out there and realizing how healing nature is.”
Some years the pair successfully hatches eaglets. Other years they are unintentionally empty nesters. Twelve thousand people tuned in in March when an egg was due to hatch. It didn’t hatch, but people are still watching and the adults are still adding sticks.
“The nest is over five feet deep and five and a half feet across,” Steers says. “They’ve added so many sticks over the last few years, we’ve had to raise the camera up because they were covering it up.”
The cam has global appeal so the organization partners with followers in Europe who respond to comments when the organization’s members in America are asleep.
Decorah North Nest Cam
The play-by-play on the Decorah North Nest Cam reads like a crazy tale in blog form with pooping, preening and pin feathers. Narrative updates are done daily and sometimes more than once a day.
Mr. North, the adult eagle named by the Raptor Resource Project, is the leading character in this ‘NestFlix’ with two eager eaters to feed.
This nest cam has high marks for great camera angle, clear sound and vivid color. Low marks for posting videos as separate entries instead of streaming live.
Pittsburgh Hays Bald Eagle Cam
This nest has triplets so high marks for high head count, but there’s no sound with this video. The Pittsburgh Hays Bald Eagle Cam recorded two hatchings March 23 and one on March 27.
The nest cam, installed in 2014 and monitored by Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania, is in thick forest near river and food sources must be plentiful because the pair lays three eggs often.
Three new mouths to feed can turn into a shoving match with the smallest missing its meal. That happens in full nests. Hays nest has three, but doesn’t always fledge three. When there’s more than one mouth to feed, chances are high one of the mouths won’t make it.
Watch these loose limbed, gray hued babes now. They’ll fly the coop by June.
Two Harbors Alternate Nest
Catalina Island, California
This nest cam makes the list because it’s over water so if the sound of the breeze doesn’t soothe you, the sight of rolling waves might. Two Harbors Alternate Nest is in the rocky cliffs of Catalina Island a few dozen miles from Southern California.
This cam is called an alternate because it records on one of two nests used by the same pair. This is a nest with babies in it now and it’s watched by an Explore cam. Explore.org deploys of hundreds of wildlife cams worldwide. The organization monitors much more than eagles, but this time of year the eagle cams with fuzzy, wobbly eaglets are top watch.