OLYMPIA – What's better for bird watchers than being able to watch the activity inside a bald eagle's nest without disturbing the birds?
How about round-the-clock, close-up and whole-nest views of the eagles' rearing activities? That's what's in store for viewers now that the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has re-activated its popular EagleCam website for the spring nesting season.
The website offers real-time images of a pair of nesting eagles, now sitting on two new eggs in a Kent cottonwood tree. The images generally refresh every five seconds, although the rates vary depending on the modem used to view the site.
Besides the new close-up and night views, the EagleCam website has been expanded with links to other eagle cams across the country and information about bald eagles.
Last year's EagleCam, which recorded activity in the Kent nest from a distance of five feet, drew 600,000 website viewers from around the world.
This spring, the Kent eagles are sitting on two eggs, and hatching is expected within a month, said Chuck Gibilisco, WDFW watchable wildlife coordinator.
"The new, second camera is within a couple of feet of the nest bowl, and the images should be really exciting when the eggs hatch," Gibilisco said. "We took steps to avoid disturbing the eagles, by installing the new, miniature camera before the birds returned to the nest, recessing it into the tree branch and then camouflaging it with bark."
Besides the new close-up camera, the EagleCam also offers infrared images that capture some night activity, particularly on moonlit nights.
The EagleCam is just one feature of WDFW's re-designed WildWatch Cam website. Other sites featuring harbor seals in South Puget Sound and a heron rookery in a Seattle greenbelt will be launched later this spring. In addition, a SalmonCam at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery is on-line and a BatCam recording activity at an eastern Washington maternity colony of Townsend's big-eared bats will soon be re-activated.
The wildlife cams, as well as other WDFW watchable wildlife activities, are funded partly by proceeds from the state's personalized license plate sales. In addition, WDFW accepts direct contributions from the public to support the animal cams. Checks should be made payable to WILDWATCH CAM and sent to WDFW headquarters at 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501.