Now appearing on a computer screen near you: the immensely popular Duke Farms eagle cam.
Although bald eagles are a year-round presence at Duke Farms, in winter they become the stars of their own webcast, streamed live from their nest near the Raritan River.
Since the webcam went online in 2008, more than 9 million people worldwide have watched the same happy raptor couple build and rebuild their nest, incubate eggs and raise their young.
“Any time you see a bald eagle, it’s pretty impressive,” says Nora Wagner, director of strategic planning and programs at Duke Farms. “They just take your breath away. Most people in New Jersey and around the world don’t have those opportunities.”
Even more surprising is how passionate some viewers have gotten. “They live and die with these eagles,” says Wagner. “They get up in the morning, they put on their pot of coffee and they watch the eagles’ nest—all day.”
Many viewers have taken the eagles under their wings, so to speak.
“I can’t tell you how many calls we get if people think the eagles are not moving as much or eating as much as they should,” says Wagner. “We’ve gotten calls from people saying, ‘Can you drop a fish in the nest?’”
The camera set-up, done in collaboration with Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, is something of an engineering marvel. “The cam uses 2,500 feet of cable,” says Wagner. “It requires some pretty sophisticated technology to move a video signal that distance.”
The camera is in the nest tree, positioned to view the eagles’ home from above. It can be maneuvered remotely to pan, tilt and zoom—providing extraordinary views of Mom, Dad and, later in the season, their eaglets.
If all goes well this season, the female will start incubating as many as three eggs in mid-February, a process that takes five weeks. Ten weeks after hatching, the eaglets should fledge (or fly) from the nest.
Since 2005, 21 eagle chicks have been raised at that same nest.
Want to see for yourself? Go to dukefarms.org/en/Stewardship/WildlifeCams/eagle-cam/
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