Tips and FAQ's for Viewers of Maine’s Bald Eagle Nest Camera
- Charlie Todd, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife
Patience! You are witnessing live, unedited images of a bald eagle nest in coastal Hancock County, Maine. The birds do not perform “on command” and are not manipulated for viewers.
What will I see? Bald eagles regularly use this nest throughout the year. Their behavior varies markedly between seasons.
When is the camera turned on? “24 / 7.” Except for maintenance, repairs, or server problems, it is always operating. The image changes from color to black-and-white in dim evening light. An infrared illuminator yields an interesting night image! After the early morning glare, color imagery resumes all day.
What Internet access is needed? Most viewers can enjoy live-streaming video and audio. If you have a slow-speed modem / dial-up connections, you can still see live images updated every 15 seconds (like time lapse photos).
The image has changed, is moving or seems blurred: what’s wrong? Weather patterns in coastal Maine are a challenge. As the winds gust, our camera moves with the sway of a nearby tree where it is installed 60 feet above ground. The camera can zoom in for close-ups or pan side-to-side if eagles spend more time on lateral limbs outside the nest. Precipitation (snow, sleet, and rain are normal each spring) creates challenges for both the camera and eagles! Some camera adjustments have to await weather improvements.
I enjoy hearing the eagle calls: did you turn off the sound? Maybe. The microphone is extremely sensitive and essentially an invasion of privacy when seasonal residents return to nearby homes. If you hear loud noises, realize this is not a private setting … and this mic’ is really good! Don’t be alarmed.
I can’t quite see into the nest bowl: please help! Our camera can go no higher at this location without undue safety risks. The eagles keep building the rim of the nest higher. Yes, this is a bit of a tease to not clearly see how many eggs there are or know exactly how many hatchlings are out … but this has led to intense, dedicated viewing. The intrigue is now integral to the Maine eagle cam’ experience! Our camera position offers natural viewing angles of eagles flying to and from the nest or perched nearby enjoying the same scenery that you are: waves and swells rolling past from the beautiful Gulf of Maine as a backdrop.
Watch periodically. Activities change with the season, but this show is never over!
When does nesting begin? Eagle breeding activity begins anew each year at this nest with repairs and additions of sticks to the nest in February.
Why do adult eagle lay so low in the nest? Eggs are laid in March and hopefully will hatch in April. Adults must incubate their eggs by lying on them for 35 days!
When can I see baby eagles? If we are fortunate enough for eggs to hatch, young nestling eaglets grow to full size in front of your eyes over the next 3 months: from 2 ounce downy “fuzzballs” to 11-pound birds equaling their parents in size! Adults may shelter them closely at times, but viewers are inevitably fascinated by the antics of youngsters in the nest. Intimate views of nestlings may become your favorite daily viewing pleasure.
When will eaglets start flying? In this region, first flights are attempted in July. Tune in if you dare: this is the suspense phase and hard to watch if you have nervous tendencies. Fledglings return to the nest to enjoy the continued, watchful care of “mom and dad” for another 6 – 12 weeks before they venture forth into the big world.
How long will adult eagles stay at the nest? Adults may use the nest any week of the year here in coastal Maine: as a sentry post to watch over their territory, a feeding platform, etc. If they wander from the nest too long, you may see stray immature bald eagles checking out the nest to see if they have found a vacancy.
Learn with us. Bald eagles are treasured as the national symbol of the U.S., a Threatened wildlife species, and a sensitive indicator of environmental quality. There is plentiful information on the Internet and a great deal more in published accounts. We will periodically update links to relevant information.
Where can I find out more about the eagles that I’m viewing? In anticipation of many questions, three eagle biologists (with a combined 80+ years of experience in bald eagle research and management in Maine) wrote weekly narratives on eagle ecology and conservation during the first year of this eagle cam’ in 2006. While the timing of nesting events may not be identical each year, the sequence is generally similar and you can reference our accounts in an archive file Biologist's Journal. In 2007, we will invite a variety of biologists involved with eagle conservation to contribute insights.
More ideas? Of course! A blog is linked to the home page of the eagle cam’ or can be accessed directly at http://baldeaglecam.blogspot.com/ Viewers can share their observations on the blog, ask and answer questions of one another, etc. You will find many earnest eagle lovers and a wealth of knowledge among fellow viewers! Some post videos, still images, or audio recordings on other websites.
Consider the challenges facing eagles. As your eagle savvy builds, enjoy the subtle moments and insights from a rare viewing opportunity.
Such as? Watch the gentle motions of an adult eagle turning its egg periodically.
How do they remain steadfast to their eggs during driving rains, snow, or winds? Instead of the alert posture with head erect, look for a low profile and face down posture (is it OK?) to minimize exposure. The snow may pile up around an incubating adult.
Will the smaller eaglet(s) get a turn to feed? If sufficient food is brought to the nest, everyone gets a turn. If not, only the older / stronger eaglet(s) may survive.
And much, much more!
Your help is needed! Your interest and participation are most welcome. Few of us have the opportunity to interact regularly with bald eagles or other endangered/threatened wildlife, but public awareness of their conservation needs is crucial.
Can my small donation really help? Absolutely. Most are shocked to learn that many conservation efforts such as bald eagle recovery are not funded by government. Most non-game wildlife programs rely foremost on charitable donations. Your contributions to the Maine Endangered and Nongame Wildlife Fund are critical to our work, used as match to leverage other funds, and greatly appreciated. Thank you!