OLYMPIA – A couple in Kent is looking forward to watching two newborn eaglets in their backyard cottonwood tree grow to maturity. And now everyone else can too.
Starting today, live color images taken from inside the nest – and updated every twelve seconds – are available for viewing on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's (WDFW) website. A tiny camera records the eaglets' first days of life and the comings and goings of the parents.
This intimate look at a family of bald eagles is the first in a series of live "home movies" the agency plans to post on the Internet as part of its new WildWatchCam project, which uses tiny, high-resolution cameras to capture wildlife in their natural element.
Coming soon: a bat colony, a rookery of great blue herons and an underwater view of salmon returning to the Issaquah hatchery.
Chuck Gibilisco, coordinator for WDFW's new video project, said WildWatchCam is designed to give the public a opportunity to experience and enjoy wildlife "up-close and personal" without physically intruding on their natural environment. It's also turning out to be a valuable scientific tool.
"We've learned new things about eagles just in the few months that our cameras have been in place," Gibilisco said. "This project gives the public an opportunity to learn right along with the scientists. It also helps everyone develop a better appreciation of the wildlife around us."
Two partners in the project have played keys roles in getting WildWatchCam up and running, Gibilisco said. Tim Brown, a North American wildlife expert living in Bellevue, donated several high-tech monitoring cameras and has assisted in their placement. Redmond-based B.E. Meyers Company, a manufacturer of scientific lasers and optical equipment, has provided technical assistance to the team and modified the cameras to meet the conditions of the various sites that will be featured in coming months.
Gibilisco noted that WDFW's own funding for the project comes from revenue generated by the sale of personalized license plates, a portion of which funds "watchable wildlife" programs that promote wildlife experiences apart from hunting and fishing. The agency is also accepting direct contributions from the public to support the project. Checks should be made out to WildWatchCam and sent to the WDFW office at 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501.
The Kent couple with the eagles' nest in their backyard are big supporters of the program, although they hope to remain anonymous to protect the location of the nest. You might be able to pick them out in traffic, though. One of their license plates reads: EGL LDY.