Thousands Watch Online As Eagles Hatch In Iowa

DECORAH, IOWA (AP) — A live video feed from northeast Iowa with a bird’s eye view of eagle eggs hatching has attracted more than 100,000 followers — so many that the site crashed briefly Saturday after the first eaglet emerged.

The camera sponsored by the Raptor Resource Project shows a nest 80 feet up in a tree overlooking a trout stream at the Decorah Fish Hatchery, where a pair of eagles is welcoming their brood.

Three eggs were laid in late February, and the first eaglet started to emerge from its shell Friday. Bob Anderson, the project’s executive director, said the second hatched about 5:30 a.m. Sunday and the third is expected in about three days.

“The world loves it,” said Anderson, who controls with the camera angle with a joystick from a nearby shed.

Viewers can watch the adult eagles feed the hatchlings and trade shifts sitting on the nest. Anderson recently took on two volunteers to help man the camera so he could get some sleep and respond to hundreds of emails from eagle fans around the world. He said he got more than 500 emails from Saturday night to Sunday morning.

The video feed reports more than 100,000 people are watching at any given time. Anderson said a spike in traffic overloaded the site Saturday, and it was down for about two hours.

“I have had bird cams for 20 years … I’m in shock, I’m in awe,” Anderson said of its popularity.

The camera is about the size of grapefruit and camouflaged with leaves. It’s equipped with an infrared light — which the eagles can’t detect — for nighttime viewing.

Anderson said teachers log on for class projects and about 23 volunteers staff the site’s chat room from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CST daily.

The pair of eagles have raised eight chicks since they built the nest four years ago.

During last year’s nesting season, the site recorded 10 million hits and about 78,000 unique visitors who watched three eaglets hatch then, Anderson said.

Donations combined with a grant from the Upper Iowa Audubon Society paid for a technology upgrade this year, which Anderson said has improved video quality and allowed for a switch to a better hosting platform. He said that’s increased the site’s traffic.

Anderson said the eagles on camera, like most native to Iowa, do not migrate and live in the nest year-round. The chicks should be with them until July.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Mark from Minnesota Tax Waste

    Simply Stunning

  • Sarah in Outstate MN

    We live 1 hour from Decorah and my kids have this live feed in their classrooms, but since they didn’t hatch during school hours they missed it. Totally cool!

  • Richard in Minneapolis

    I watched for about four hours today. Simply incredible what they have accomplished. The eaglet that hatched this morning still had his eyes shut and difficulty standing erect. By this evening he had opened his eyes and was actively begging for food along with his sibling. This afternoon I counted two fish, one crow and a rabbit (all dead) in the nest, so I don’t think anyone is going hungry.

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  • Jerry

    I just tuned in when the second eagle swooped and both of them started squawking up a storm. In the background I could here an owl calling.

  • joseph paquette

    How do I get it live? I am in Maine.

  • Candace Melton, NC

    I am absolutely amazed with these babies. I have been watching them since my 4th grade son asked me to check on the baby eagles ha had been observing in science class. Thanks to this live cam, we will be able to witness one of God’s truly majestic animals from birth to adulthood and I have to say thank you for that. I check in with them several times a day to see their progress. I am 33 yrs old, and I am in awe over them, so I can only imagine what happiness this has brought to classrooms around the world.

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