Bird Cam Frustration

Bird Cam Frustration
Bird Cam Bust.

My aunt recently told me about a bird cam that was being broadcast from an estate near her home. The Bald Eagle Cam located at Doris Duke’s Estate in Central New Jersey is by far the best bird cam I’ve ever seen. It meet the three requirements of bird cam excellence:

1. Doesn’t ask you to download any new software
2. Works properly and refreshes often
3. Is fairly interesting.

I say “fairly” interesting because the most dramatic parts are over. The two female eaglets that hatched this year are two months old now. They are getting ready to fledge. I wish I was aware of this special camera back in April, when they hatched, or when they were tiny babies. To watch today, in early June, you see two full sized eagles in adolescent plumage (no white heads) who basically sit on a nest. Occasionally one of them flaps her now-massive wings. I hope I am watching when they take their first flight. I wish I could have seen them when they hatched to the tune of that song from “1776” that goes “I’m waiting for the scratch, scratch, scratch. . .” (OK, they probably weren’t really playing that song. But they should have been.) The parent birds (whom I haven’t seen yet--they just drop by for a few minutes a day to feed the sisters) return every year to the same tree, so I will definitely be there to see next years’ babies break the shell.

After having such good luck observing the patriotic birds of prey, I decided to check out some other bird cams to recommend to my readers. Unfortunately, I have very little to recommend.

There are hundreds of links to bird cams, but just about every one I clicked on had something in common: they didn’t work.

Either they required some software my older computer didn’t have (and this of course would not be a problem to anyone with the latest Mac or Windows Operating Systems, but is a nuisance to those of us on a budget), or the cameras were no longer available, or they didn’t refresh the pictures at the intervals they said they would. After being frustrated in my attempts to spy on ospreys, puffins, Canada geese and someone’s feeder in the Isle of Man, I decided to check out the other cams by the same streaming service as the Duke Farms Eagle Cam. I even had trouble with them.

In the end, I can recommend only one other cam: www. Although the subject matter was less than compelling (a couple of white farm ducks sitting in a barn), it at least worked and did what it was supposed to do.

Again, someone with a better computer may have a completely different experience with bird cam watching. But in my experience, it is a generally unsatisfactory endeavor. You’re better off getting out and birding for real. At least the birds don’t decide one day that they’re no longer compatible with your binoculars.

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