Nest cams get the picture
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Finding a bird nest that is easy to observe is often difficult. Usually nests are too high or require getting so close that the birds' natural behaviors are disturbed. But occasionally we get lucky.
I've always enjoyed watching active bird nests, but worried about getting too close. That's not a problem this spring. A robin chose to build her nest on our porch knowing that we come and go several times each day. It's on top of a corner post on the back porch., just a couple of inches beneath the roof, so it's completely protected from rain and wind. My wife and I can watch it from the living room without disturbing the birds. After 12 days of vigilant incubation, all three eggs hatched the morning of April 18.
For those not lucky enough to have a nest right outside a window, the next best thing is available online. Thanks to digital cameras set up at nests of many bird species, viewing active nests is as easy as visiting a website. Just a few years ago, only a few such sites existed and the quality of the images was poor. Today, watching live, active bird nests can be as addictive as watching television soap operas.
Among the most well known nest cams are two in Pittsburgh designed to monitor the peregrine falcons nesting on the Gulf Tower, Downtown, and at the Cathedral of Learning in Oakland. Both can be viewed at www.aviary.org, and then clicking on "Pittsburgh FalconCams."
A few other sites worth checking out:
For an eastern bluebird nest in Harrisburg, visit www.pgc.state.pa.us, then click on Wildlife on the menu bar, click on Birds, and then choose Bluebird Home.
Among many bald eagle nests under surveillance, visit www.suttoncenter.org in Oklahoma, and click on Live Bald Eagle Nest Camera.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has links to a variety of active nests at http://watch.birds.cornell.edu/nestcams/camera/index.
And http://www.fi.edu/hawks takes you to a red-tailed hawk nest in Philadelphia, where you can watch for cars passing on the street below the nest.
To find more nest cameras, just Google "nest cams" and a species' name.
First Published April 25, 2010 12:00 am