What’s better than a camera that gives viewers worldwide a rare glimpse inside a bald-eagle nest? That’s easy – two cameras.
And with the launch Thursday of the latest rendition of the Game Commission’s Eagle Cam, those cameras are running round the clock, with the video they capture being streamed in real time to what undoubtedly will be a million or more viewers around the globe.
This is the third year the Game Commission has installed its Eagle Cam to help teach all of us more about nature and wildlife, and the newly launched run is shaping up to be the best yet.
For the second-straight year, the Eagle Cam has been installed at a nest 75 feet high in a tree in Hanover, York County, adjacent to Codorus State Park. Eagles have nested at the tree for about 10 years, and have successfully fledged young there many times.
Last year, nearly 1.5 million tuned in as a pair of adults successfully raised a pair of eaglets that fledged from the nest in late June to set out on their own.
Not only will the pair of high-definition cameras installed this year provide different angles of the nesting birds and – hopefully – their young, infrared technology will provide images 24 hours a day, and microphones within the units will capture all of the accompanying sounds.
Of course, all of this assumes technical difficulties don’t crop up.
Last year, for instance, the microphone on the lone camera installed at the nest stopped working after a squirrel chewed through an audio wire just a few weeks into the run. Then, after the eaglets hatched, one relieved itself on the camera’s lens, leaving viewers for several weeks with an obstructed view of the nest.
And there’s no choice but to simply deal with any such problems, because once January 1 rolls around, federal guidelines kick in, prohibiting intrusions at eagle nests to ensure nesting birds are given the protection they need.
In the bigger picture, too, there are no guarantees regarding the nest associated with the Eagle Cam.
While the Hanover nest has been active during several previous nesting seasons, and a pair of adult eagles have been hanging around and adding material to the nest this winter, we’re still weeks away from knowing whether eagles will in fact nest there this season. And if they do, there’s no telling whether they will hatch young, or if the eaglets will survive.
These are realities for all wildlife in their natural world.
Game Commission Executive Director R. Matthew Hough said the opportunity to look in on the nest in real time, not knowing how the story will end or what might happen next, is some of what makes the Eagle Cam so fascinating to watch.
“Over the past two years, the reaction to the Game Commission’s Eagle Cam has been truly amazing,” Hough said. “Not only do an astonishing number of people tune in, not only are there viewers in just about every country on the planet, but so many of them watch with such dedication. They’ll look in every day for as long as they can, spending countless hours enthralled by the goings-on within the nest.
“It’s amazing, but it’s easy to understand, too,” Hough said. “You just don’t get the opportunity to see eagles like this just anywhere. And I’m crossing my fingers for another successful nesting attempt captured on camera.”
Of course, the Eagle Cam would not be possible without the coordinated work of many partners.
Comcast Business and its technicians worked with the Game Commission and partner HDOnTap to provide a static IP address and coordinate installation of 100 Mbps broadband service to an enclosure near the tree.
“Comcast Business is pleased to once again partner with the Pennsylvania Game Commission to deliver the fast internet speeds needed for a project that has delighted and educated so many people here in the state and around the world,” said Paul Merritt, vice president of Comcast Business for the Keystone Region. “We look forward to another winter and spring of anticipation and wonder.”
HDOnTap has provided the camera as well as the live streaming services available to viewers.
“HDOnTap is honored to partner once again with the Game Commission to bring live high-definition streaming video and time-lapse views of this eagle’s nest,” said Tim Sears of HDOnTap. “We’ve installed an additional HD InfraRed camera system for round the clock live HD views and two new audio microphones bringing amazing audio quality!
“We’re looking forward to another successful year!” Sears said.
The Game Commission also would like to thank the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Codorus State Park and the Friends of Codorus State Park, Swam Electric and Sunbelt Rentals for making the eagle cam a reality.
Hough also credited Game Commission staff and others for their treetop installation of the Eagle Cam.
Hough said the Game Commission is proud to bring the eagle cam to viewers again this season – and in time for the holidays, no less. He thanked the many partners in the effort for their cooperation.
“It really says a lot about how important wildlife is to so many Pennsylvanians,” he said. “And like so many of them, and so many of you, I will be there watching, taking in the suspense as this nesting attempt unfolds.”
To view the Eagle Cam and to learn more about bald eagles in Pennsylvania, visit the Game Commission’s PA Bald Eagles webpage. The live stream can be accessed on the page that will open.
Twitter and Facebook users also can share the Eagle Cam with friends by tweeting #PGCeaglecam.
Related Story:DCNR Support For Hanover Eagle Cam Praised By Game Commission