An Interview With Eagle Cam Maestro Charles Barreca

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Charles Barreca tapping a maple for sap during last year’s Sugar Maple Celebration at Duke Farms.

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

When you watch the Eagle Cam, it’s easy to forget that there’s someone a couple of miles away from the nest, making sure it is working smoothly — not always an easy task when the nest (and cam) are in such a remote location, and the technology is new.

That someone is Charles Barreca. Here’s a chance to get to know him a little better.

How long have you worked at Duke Farms?

Seven years now — I started in the fall of 2009.

Where are you from?

I grew up in Keyport, NJ, and went to school for environmental science at NJIT out of Newark.

From there I went on to work with the US Fish and Wildlife Service doing work with shorebirds, waterfowl and invasive plant species at Edwin B Forsythe and Blackwater Wildlife Refuges down in southern NJ and the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

I’ve always had a passion from wildlife since my mother took me out to parks and gave me books on nature. Working on things like this is a dream.

How long have you worked with the cam?

Since I started in 2009, one of my first tasks with the camera was repairing the cable when it got damaged by some falling ice in the winter of 2010.

I learned fairly quickly how to splice together broken cable, and from that point on I got more involved — especially after the company that made the original camera went defunct.

The old cam was constructed by Fuhrman Diversified, a company formerly based in Texas that made lots of interesting animal handling and monitoring equipment.

This made things especially challenging when we had to order replacement parts since the key parts of the old system had been modified by Fuhrman Diversified to work at double their original range (this modification likely lead to the failure of the system in 2012 since some connectors actually melted from too much power going thru the system).

What is the biggest challenge?

Getting camera parts up into the tree. Everything else is fairly simple in comparison.

What has been your most memorable moment with the nest?

Splicing together the old copper cable for the camera in December in 2011, when the temperature was in the teens, while our climber Jack Kuhlman is up the in the tree putting the camera in final position.

We had one bad winter where lots of stuff went wrong right at the last moment that we could get near the nest to do work.

_________________________

Got a question or suggestion? E-mail Jim at celeryfarm@gmail.com.

Jim Wright writes “The Bird Watcher” columnist for The [Bergen] Record. 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.

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