Webcam to Capture Eagles in Nest Overlooking Monongahela River
Valley News Dispatch
22 December 2013
By Mary Ann Thomas
The Pennsylvania Game Commission and a Murrysville company set up
the state's first eagle nest video camera in Hays for live
streaming on the Internet.
Workers from the commission and PixController Inc. mounted the
camera, perhaps the first ever with remote tilt and zoom
capabilities on an eagles' nest, on a steep wooded hillside
overlooking the Monongahela River on Friday.
Trib Total Media, parent company of the Tribune-Review, will
stream the live feed on its website beginning in February through
nesting season in the summer. The Game Commission, the nest cam
host WildEarth.TV and PixController also will offer footage.
Pittsburgh's bald eagle pair reared one young chick this year,
which was the first successful eagle nesting in the city in more
than 200 years, according to game commission officials.
There's another eagles' nest on the steep cliff rising above Route
28 in Harmar.
The commotion of an active rail line in Hays, a busy scrap yard,
and even a throng of eagle watchers who cheered when an eagle
delivered a freshly caught fish to his family hasn't disrupted
nesting activities so far.
“We knew how popular these eagles have been here,” said Hal
Korber, a New Kensington native and a photographer and
videographer with the game commission.
In 1989, Korber was with the game commission on its last trip to
retrieve eaglets from a nest in Saskatchewan to rebuild the
population in Pennsylvania that the pesticide DDT had decimated to
only three pairs.
The restoration efforts of the commission grew the eagle
population to 266 nesting pairs this year, causing the agency to
remove the bird from the state's threatened species list in
October. It continues to have a “protected” status.
“This is darn exciting,” Korber said at the eagles' nest as fellow
commission employee Derek Spitler climbed more than 30 feet up a
tree next to the nest to install the eagle cam.
The nest's location and the commission's previous work with
PixController made the Hays nest an ideal site for a nest camera
with live video feed, according to Tom Fazi, the commission's
information and education supervisor for the southwest region.
“It's exciting to get to this point on a project that is so
important,” said Bill Powers, president of PixController.
Powers' company has set up cameras to record in real time the
peregrine falcons at the University of Pittsburgh, a bear den in
Minnesota — which yielded the first filmed birth of bear young in
hibernation — and wildlife throughout the world.
The company is working with WildEarth.TV and National Geographic
to install cameras to watch wildlife in the Congo.
The local bird project is a passion of Powers, whose company
specializes in surveillance and security cameras. He is donating
the use of his equipment and expertise for the Pittsburgh eagle
cam. Interstate Batteries of North Versailles donated the
batteries for transmission of the feed. Powers is using solar
panels for the camera system.
“This is going to show real life,” Fazi said. “This is going to be
educational. And it will likely be graphic at times.”
As bald eagles are predatory birds and scavengers of dead animals,
the camera should capture the birds bringing fish and other
animals to its young.
The game commission is talking to Pittsburgh Public Schools and
other districts about streaming the nest feed to classrooms.
The public's response to the Hays nest has been phenomenal,
according to wildlife officials.
“I knew every sneeze that those birds made,” said Beth Fife, a
conservation officer with the game commission.
Eagles have been popular subjects for live streaming at other
nests across the country.
“They're charismatic and beautiful,” said Charles Eldermire, bird
cams project leader for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca,
The lab has a number of webcams, among them a red-tailed hawk's
nest as well as the great blue heron and others, whose live feed
has been picked up by websites in more than 100 countries.
“We have found that people have an emotional experience when they
view these birds on a daily basis,” Eldermire said. “There's
something there that resonates with us. A certain (interest) in
what we have to do on a daily basis to survive. And the viewing
experience is sparked by extraordinary moments of beauty and
resilience. They struggle just like we do to raise young, get food
The game commission has posted restrictions outside the Hays nest.
If anyone is found within 660 feet of the nest, they could be hit
with fines of $1,000 to $10,000. The bird is protected by state
laws as well as the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
Mary Ann Thomas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-226-4691.
Read more: http://triblive.com/news/editorspicks/5301612-74/nest-eagles-commission#ixzz2oHco5500