Our Outdoors: Wildlife on Candid Camera

February 11, 2013 by  

By Nick Simonson

Before Ashton Kutcher and MTV gave us Punk’d, before YouTube allowed anyone in the world to video the weirdest people of Wal-Mart, at the dawn of television, Candid Camera gave generations before mine a look and a laugh at a precursor to reality TV. In the show, celebrities would prank unsuspecting people with unusual scenarios, all before revealing the stunt to the embarrassed target by shouting “Smile, You’re On Candid Camera!”
These days, there’s an iPhone in every pocket, a web cam in every dorm room and a security camera on every corner.  We get more exposure to the every day, which allows society to capture those truly entertaining moments (see texting woman falls in fountain) or those that leave us with our jaws on the ground (see teen ticks off judge) with just the click of a button.  But thankfully, beyond the asinine, our world on Candid Camera allows us insight into those things that can truly surprise and educate us.  With the advancement of camera technologies, many wildlife agencies have been able to provide an elevated view of eagles high on their nests, of bears deep in their winter burrows and of fish on the move up streams and rivers.


This Eagle tends to its egg-filled nest

On Eagles’ Wings
Perhaps the most famous eagle cam is that of the Decorah Eagles (http://www.ustream.tv/decoraheagles).  Gaining popularity by going viral across the internet in 2009, these raptors in Northeastern Iowa became a world-wide sensation, as the mated pair raised their eggs to chicks and the fledglings eventually left the nest.  All the while, the camera rolled in what became a tree-based Truman-show, with every detail of the eagles’ life documented.  And while the nest near Decorah remains empty at this time of year, an unusual occurrence has spawned a second site.
The Minnesota DNR has located a pair of bald eagles near Minneapolis which have nested early, laying their eggs during the first week of January this year.  Far ahead of the normal nesting season which typically begins in March, this circumstance has allowed the DNR to launch its own nest cam with an active pair in the aerie.  The birds can be seen at eaglecam.dnr.state.mn.us, as they tend to their eggs throughout this late winter and spring.
Bear’s Den
Another Minnesota resident that has gained fame in recent years is Jewel, a four-year old black bear residing in a den near Ely.  Through the North American Bear Center’s webpage (www.bear.org), anyone can check in on Jewel’s long winter nap, along with her two one-year-old cubs, Fern and Herby, by simply clicking on the “Live Cameras” tab.  Along with the webcam, visitors can check out Jewel’s family history, read daily updates on the bears’ activities and learn more about black bears in general, providing an in-depth learning experience.
Wet and Wild
Birds and Mammals aren’t the only animals subject to unwitting video observation.  The Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center in Philadelphia, PA monitors a fish passage, which allows species to migrate upstream, despite development of hydroelectric plants and other obstructions along the flow of the Delaware River.  With the camera rolling on its website at http://www.fairmountwaterworks.org/fishcam.php during the peak migration months of April, May and June, observers can see common fish such as channel catfish, carp and suckers, along with smallmouth bass and other game fish make their way through the migration ladder.  Additionally, rarer critters such as snakes, muskrats and even a river otter have paused for their moment of fame while the camera was rolling.  The FWWIC has archived a video of the otter experience which is worth a look.  Bookmark the site, and wait for spring to experience the fun of a fish migration.
On the wings of the Decorah Eagles, live-streaming creature cameras have exploded across the web.  By searching the internet for more feeds of nests, dens, rivers and watering holes, you’ll gain a greater insight into the life of the wild and the winged that are all around you; and those from the furthest reaches…of our outdoors.


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