Courtesy of Cornell University

Red-tailed hawks are one of the many birds that can be observed 24/7 on the bird cam website.

September 6, 2018

Bird Cam Gives Peep into Birds’ Day-to-Day Lives

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Tens of thousands of viewers are tuning into the live bird cam run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for an exclusive, up-close look at the day-to-day lives of birds all over the world.

The website, All About Birds, displays live footage of species from the Panama Fruit Feeders cam in South America to the local Sapsucker Woods Pond cam in Ithaca and features an extensive bird guide, videos, articles and more.

In addition to live coverage of birds, the website also showcases interesting moments that viewers may have missed, such as birds interacting with predators, prey and other cohabiting animals and plants. Sometimes, the live videos raise questions and concerns from viewers about the well-being of the birds on camera.

“Of course, we are looking through a window in the natural world, so at times, when misfortune befalls a nest, it can create concern and discussion about what will or should happen to the birds on camera,” said Hugh Powell, senior science editor at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, in an email to The Sun.

The lab is extremely careful that its activities do not disturb the birds or their daily routines.

For Powell, the best part about the live streams is realizing what birds tell us about living harmoniously within the world.

“I feel lucky everyday to be able to spend my time thinking about the huge variety of birds in the world: the rare, the endangered, the common, the beautiful, the weird and everything in between,” Powell said.

The origin of the bird cams dates back to 1998, when the lab started to post live still images of bird nests. As technology progressed and Internet speeds improved, the website evolved to its current state: live, high definition video streaming. In 2012, the first modern stream featured a red-tailed hawk nest on Cornell’s campus, which can still be seen live on the site.

One species currently featured on the site is the highly endangered California condor, which is the largest bird in North America. Viewers can turn in to watch the scavengers live from anywhere in the world.

While the number and locations of cameras are dependent on the seasons, the website has featured about 23 different cameras in different locations since its beginning. According to Powell, the reception from the community of viewers has been mostly positive.

“Our audience is overwhelmingly positive and creates a great sense of community based around learning and sharing in these intimate views of birds’ lives,” Powell said.