Streaming the Video from Nest to Screen

tree camera

The Eagle Cam was installed by a local licensed arborist in a sycamore tree near the original nest. After that nest was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, the cam was moved to the new nest tree the following autumn.

Written By: Jim Wright for Duke Farms and Conserve Wildlife Foundation

Our story thus far:  The female Bald Eagle has laid two eggs this season, on 2/16-17 and 2/20. Incubation takes approx. 5 weeks, which means the first egg should hatch early next week. You can view the nest on streaming video here.

(Coming Monday: Bonus Post — Everything you always wanted to know about hatching the eggs.)

Yesterday, we described how the Eagle Cam works.

Today, a look at how the video signal is streamed from the nest — located in a remote woodland near the Raritan River — to your screen.

The Eagle Cam  was installed in 2005 by a local certified arborist, who climbed more than 80 feet up a tree next to the nest and hoisted the camera up from the ground.

The tough part, however, was not getting New-Nest-11-30-12(4)the 10-pound camera and its weatherproof, lightning-resistant housing up the tree. The challenge was getting the video signal from the cam to the closest facility where the video could be streamed.

In fact, although installation of the cam began shortly after the first nest was discovered a decade ago, streaming the cam’s live feed over the Internet took several years of effort.

The problem was simple: Location, location, …

The eagles decided to build their nest nearly a mile from the closest facility that could stream the video, and with little to no clearance for a wireless antenna in the woods, the technology in 2005 only allowed for a 1,000- to 3,000-foot run of cable buried in the ground.

“The first system we used was customized by a subcontractor to double the original factory parts settings’ suggested range, but the modification likely led to the breakdown of the original system due to excess heat,”  explains Charles Barreca, Duke Farms’ manager of ecological stewardship.

video modem

The video modem enables Duke Farms to project power, video and camera controls over one coaxial cable for up to 1,500 feet.

“The cam now uses a special device called a video modem that projects power, video and camera controls over one coaxial cable. It makes maintenance and installation easy, although only one vendor in Taiwan makes these devices.”

What’s more, it’s that distance from a power source that prevents Duke Farms from adding a microphone and an infra-red light.

“The system is at its max limit right now for power,” says Charles. “Adding sound and IR would interfere with camera performance right now. With the improved technology these days, a wired sound/IR option could be done. But we still need to examine time/budget constraints before we consider replacing the entire system.”

Got a question or suggestion? E-mail Jim at

Jim Wright writes “The Bird Watcher” columnist for The Record and the Herald-News. He is the author of four coffee-table books about wild places, and the deputy marsh warden of the Celery Farm Natural Area in Allendale, N.J.

Yesterday: All about the Duke Farms Eagle Cam.

Last week: Anatomy of a Bald Eagle nest.

Two weeks ago: A Brief History of Bald Eagle Eggs in New Jersey and All About Duke Farms’ Bald Eagle Eggs.

Three weeks ago: Bald Eagle basics.

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