May 10, 2002
Viewer overload temporarily stills EagleCam
OLYMPIA An on-line camera broadcasting images from a Kent bald eagle nest over the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's (WDFW) Internet website has been temporarily interrupted a victim of its own popularity.
The WDFW EagleCam was taken off-line earlier this week when the site's Internet service provider discontinued service because the thousands of simultaneous viewers out-stripped the allotted bandwidth. Efforts to transfer the site to state servers ran into similar overload problems.
Staff with the WDFW information services and wildlife programs are working to locate an alternate service provider that can handle the volume of traffic on the site, said Chuck Gibilisco, WDFW watchable wildlife coordinator.
Besides the high number of individual viewers, many users apparently are in the habit of keeping the EagleCam open on their computers for lengthy periods of time, adding to the overall demand on the site, Gibilisco added.
Last year, in its first season, the EagleCam website attracted an estimated 600,000 visits. Viewer numbers have surged since the eagle eggs hatched in late April.
"This is an extremely popular site and we're working to get it back on-line," Gibilisco said. "We realize this interruption is especially frustrating to viewers who are monitoring the progress of the newly hatched eaglets."
Along with interruption to EagleCam, a similar SalmonCam was temporarily discontinued and implementation was delayed for other planned WildWatch Cams which will feature Puget Sound harbor seals and other state species. Although the cam features are temporarily unavailable, archived video of state animals and other wildlife watching information may still be accessed at the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wildwatch/ on the Internet.
The EagleCam involves two cameras one close-up and one wide-angle placed in and near the nest of two bald eagles in a Kent couple's backyard. The cameras are designed to broadcast both day and night images that typically refresh every five seconds.
The site was put on line last year with a single camera, and this year the second, close-up camera was added before the eagles returned to nest. However, that new feature has been hampered by another, bird-created glitch the miniature camera attached near the nest has been projecting blurred images since one of the feeding eagles flung a scrap of fish entrails that stuck to the camera lens. To avoid disturbing the birds, that problem will not be resolved until after nesting season is over.
The WildWatchCams and WDFW's other watchable wildlife activities are supported with funding from the state sale of personalized license plates, the federal Wildlife Conservation and Restoration program and individual contributions.