Written By: Jim Wright for Duke Farms and Conserve Wildlife Foundation
Note: I did the interview below with Eagle Cam operator Charles Barreca before today’s nest drama. The drama — one of the chicks suddenly left the nest — really demonstrated the “new” high-definition nest cam’s capabilities, from finding the chick that had jumped to confirming the ID of the remaining check by zooming in on the number on her leg band. (Right.)
It’s easy to forget that Charles operates the cam remotely from roughly a mile away.
Charles Barreca, Duke Farms’ Duke Farms’ Manager of Ecological Stewardship, is a man of many talents.
He can tap a sugar maple or climb it, tote hay or use his computer to operate the new Eagle Cam in its remote location.
I caught up with Charles recently to get his thoughts on the cam and what lies ahead.
How did the new Eagle Cam do in its first season?
Aside from a bad connector in January, it performed well.
We had some issues with Ustream causing jittery images as the camera streamed video.
(I liked to call it the Max Headroom effect).
We also observed a few crashes each week from Ustream disconnecting from our office PC and not reconnecting.
Nothing too unexpected, though now we can finally see night-time intruders like owls buzz the nest (hopefully we don’t get any eaglets knocked out like in SW Florida’s Eagle Cam).
What was the biggest surprise?
Probably the image quality, it was amazing how sharp images where for identifying prey and looking at food in the nest and even the ground (like during the banding).
Will the cam be operating even after the eagles leave?
What might viewers see?
Turkey, deer, etc.
Any modifications you plan to make in the off-season?
Audio, sealing the camera housing a bit more, possibly masking the IR filter so adult eagles don’t notice it when it turns on at dusk.
What are the odds of adding sound?
It all depends on how much voltage is available at the end of the cable run.
The contractor said there should be enough it’s just that getting power from the ground up to the tree will require one more cable to deliver 12v/24v to an external microphone (the camera as it is doesn’t have a microphone and any added microphone needs its own power).
This shouldn’t be hard to install.
Got a question or suggestion? E-mail Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jim Wright writes “The Bird Watcher” columnist for The [Bergen] Record. He is the author of four coffee-table books about wild places, and a deputy marsh warden of the Celery Farm Natural Area in Allendale, N.J.