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 confirmingthe 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. The camera itself from the controls looked fine and didnt have any jitters, but when it went out from the desktop computer in ouroffice it got jittery. (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.
Any surprises? Nothing too unexpected, though now we can finally see night-time intruders like owls buzz the nest (hopefully we dont get any eaglets knocked out like in SW Floridas 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? Yes.
In this screen capture from the Eagle Cam last week, you can see Wild Turkeys walking under the nest.
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 dont 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 its 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 doesnt have a microphone and any added microphone needs its own power). This shouldnt be hard to install. Earlier posts about Charles and Eagle Cam are here and here.
Jim Wright writes The Bird Watcher columnist for The 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.
Got a question or suggestion? E-mail Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org.