Written By: Jim Wright for Duke Farms and Conserve Wildlife Foundation
Yesterday (April 14), the Eagle Cam reached a milestone: 10 million views. That’s a lot of eyeballs, and a lot of folks who have fallen love with a pair of eagles nesting in Hillsborough, New Jerey.
Over the past eight nesting seasons, people around the world have watched the Duke Farms Eagle Cam’s streaming video and witnessed some extraordinary moments — from tiny chicks emerging from their eggs to huge eaglets preparing to leave the nest.
While thousands upon thousands of folks from more than 65 countries have learned all about these raptors up-close this nesting season, the loyal viewers of the cam tend to watch the eagle family from the anonymity of their electronic device, be it laptop or cellphone or tablet.
To change that equation at least just a tad, we asked Eagle Cam viewers to let us know more about themselves.
Here are the results — a few snapshots of our far-flung viewers, including a long-time viewer in the Netherlands, a couple of newbies from Alabama, a second-year viewer from Texas, and several classrooms in New Jersey. A big thank you to all who responded.
Netty V., IJsselstein, the Netherlands: I’ve watched the Eagle Cam since 2009. I am also a member of the Friends of the Duke Farms Eagles Facebook group.
I can’t live without those beautiful eagles. They are almost like family. I watch every day for an hour.
Now that the eaglets are really growing, the fun will start. Of course, we are all hoping that those beautiful eaglets will grow up healthy and will soar the skies.
Sandra M., Lake Tuscaloosa, Alabama: This is our first year looking at the Duke Farms cam. We currently watch six nest all over the United States, three or four hours a day.
We love to watch God’s creation. The eagles are the best. We love the up-close pictures of feeding the babies, and watching them grow. We would never experience this without the cameras.
Karen T., Green Brook, N.J.: I’ve watched the Eagle Cam for 6 years. It’s the highlight to my winter/spring months.
The fact they come back year after year, no matter the conditions, is quite amazing (I seem to like that word when I talk about the eagles.
I watch about 7 -8 hours per week, more when they just hatched or get bigger.
It’s mesmerizing. Watching the instinctive
behaviors of these eagles/eaglets makes me think of human behavior and how we might learn from them.
Their perseverance and patience is something to be admired. I don’t think any human being watches over their newly born like these eagles. I learn from them all the time.
My favorite moment is when the eaglets first start eating & how the eagles parents can get such a small amount in their small little beaks without hurting them.
Diane Cook, Computer Literacy teacher, Copper Hill Elementary School, Ringoes, NJ:
My students are so interested in the life cycle of this bird, and love watching the babies grow. The Eagle Cam has provided many opportunities for great discussions about the wonders of nature.
Once the eaglets hatch, the cam is a favorite in the computer lab. While students work, I will have the cam running via the projector.
When a feeding occurs, work stops, and all eyes turn to the projector to watch. When students complete their assignment for the period, a favorite “I’m Done” activity is to watch the cam on their own computer.
I never tire of hearing the “oohs and aahs” when students see the eaglets for the first time. Seeing her lay her eggs or the eggs hatching are just amazing sights. Feeding time is a favorite, too.
This year I started a blog about the daily activities in the nest. This blog has become a model for the students in grades 2-4 to learn how to make meaningful and thoughtful comments and blogs of their own.
Recently four of my 3rd grade girls completed their assignment and went straight to the live cam. Using our Google Classroom, they began having a digital conversation with each other about what they were seeing.
Here is a great example of how students can use social media responsibly, educationally, and thoughtfully. Job well done, girls!
Anne W., Montgomery Township, N.J.: I have been watching the cam since 2009 and am delighted to know that two of the three eaglets have been spotted as mature adult males, one in Maryland and one in Connecticut.
My favorite story comes from 2010 when the Peeps had distinguished the two by calling them GL and GR, Green Left and Green Right for their green NJ state ID bands. We Ustream chatters did not have a Facebook outlet so all dialogue within the committed cam watchers was in the “chat.”
That year the picked-upon younger sister accidentally, or maybe not, in branching to a favorite spot in the old tree, knocked her older sister off her knot and out of camera range. Such a flurry of on-line chatter ensued!
One person called Duke Farms. Another called Wildlife Conservation Foundation.. Another, having no idea where the nest was, actually walked around the Raritan River looking for the fallen eaglet.
After great angst, the camera finally was panned out, and there sat the youngster on a lower branch, safe and sound. It took her three hours and the coaxing calls of her sister and probably parents in nearby trees to get her back to the nest, but she made it. Phew! A bullet dodged!
Linda, Hillsborough, N.J.: This is my third year watching the eagles. It is my reality TV. I work full time, so I can’t watch as much as I would like to. The longer days will make it possible to view the family after I get in at night.
I watch because it gives me a chance to see life in the wild, unedited. I have also become fond of the eagle family, and this couple. I also watch other cams.
My favorite moments include the hatching, laying the eggs, feeding the babies, and of course when daddy eagle subdued the red tail hawk in the nest. I also look forward to the banding. Since I started watching the cam, I have become involved as a volunteer at the farm.
Meredith N., North Texas: This is my second year. I check in to see what is going on 2 or 3 times a day for 15-20 minutes.
I just enjoy watching nature. Now and then I post what is happening to Facebook to encourage others to check out Duke eagles.
Every phase is a favorite except the end of the season.
Linda R., Somerset, NJ: This is my second year; I watch roughly 20 hours a week.
I just love to see the process of eggs hatching, eaglets growing, and the care the parents take in tending to them. Amazing!
I saw the first eaglet struggling to peck its way out of the shell — I guess that’s my favorite moment. I also love seeing the little bobbleheads squirm around and seek food from parents and watching them grow from day to day.
Theresa S, Somerville, N.J.: I’ve been watching the DF eagle cam since it started way back in 2008. These are my local eagles as I live not far from the nest.
I watch probably 6 hours a day, more or less on the weekend.
My favorite moment was while watching at my house for the start of the Ruby-throated hummingbirds at my feeder, actually seeing the first one on the Eagle Cam! It was amazing that a little hummer stopped mid-air in the center view of the cam and hung there for several seconds. Was so cool.
I was also there watching live when the hawk attacked the nest. Was amazing – Dad lifted up just in time to get his talons out. It took the hawk a long while to die not the few seconds that the reports said. Poor thing did not have a chance once Dad grabbed him/her.
Jane K., Fanwood, N.J: I have been watching DF eagles since 2010. I watch most of the day every day while doing other things on the computer.
I like the fact that they are so close to me — maybe 20 miles away.
I was lucky enough to be watching and saw the Red-tailed hawk attack live. We were all just amazed.
Sue H., Summit, N.J.: I watch lunchtime at work and a few hours on the weekend.
It amazes me that each year is as exciting as the last. Never get tired of watching and probably will watch more when I retire from full time in September.
I have gotten friends in Eastern Kentucky to watch too – they are almost as addicted as I am.
Thank you for all the good work and for all the hours of pleasure these fantastic birds have brought to me!
Judy J., Lawrenceville, NJ: I have watched for 3 years. I watch an average of 6 hours daily. I watch because I enjoy watching other nests, and am interested in the New Jersey nest as a resident.
I enjoy many things — the feedings, the interaction of the eaglets with Mom and Dad, the interaction of the eaglets together.
I enjoy watching them grow, doing something new. The best moment was when the hawk invaded the nest and Dad dealt with it.
Laurie W., Dunellin, N.J.: I’ve been watching for about 7 years. I introduced a number of coworkers to the website — so many that my company blocked the site because we were eating up too much bandwidth keeping the page open all day. (Oops. LOL)
I probably average about 8 hours a week. That, of course, goes up during pip watch and fledging.
I just love how great this pair is at parenting. It’s amazing to be able to watch them up close.
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.
Got a question or suggestion? E-mail Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org