Kenai eagle nest to stream live online

This screen capture from the city of Kenai’s live-feeding camera above a local eagle nest shows an eagle parent roosting with two eggs on Thursday, May 18, 2017 in Kenai, Alaska. Presently the eagle camera is streaming to Kenai City Hall, where administrators hope to raise the city’s profile by putting a live eagle feed online sometime in the coming weeks. (Screen capture courtesy of Jamie Heinz/City of Kenai)

Update, Friday May 19, 11:00 a.m — The city of Kenai's eagle cam is now online and streaming at http://www.kenai.city/eaglecam​ 

 

When Kenai’s eagle camera begins streaming publicly, it will offer a live view of a nesting eagle pair in the city, along with their soon-to-hatch offspring.

Toward the end of Wednesay’s Kenai City Council meeting, City Manager Paul Ostrander gestured toward the council chamber’s wall monitor, which showed a view from above of a nest in which one eagle sat on two hidden eggs. Ostrander spoke to council members about a project to raise Kenai’s profile by streaming video of the eagles to the world.

“Ultimately we’d like to see this as something that brings attention to the city of Kenai, through folks coming and clicking on the eagle cam, on what probably will be the (Kenai Chamber of Commerce’s) website,” Ostrander said. “Which is going to give them an opportunity to provide information on economic development, reasons to come to Kenai, all sorts of things where they can really promote the city.”

Eagle cams have been a successful promotional tactic for other groups, Ostrander said. He spoke of an eagle cam that has been running for five years in Ft. Meyers, Florida, which has attracted 57 million views so far in 2017.

“These things are incredibly popular,” Ostrander said. “… Whether or not this gets to that point, we don’t know.”

The feed from the eagle camera went live Monday evening, and presently can only be seen at Kenai City Hall. In addition to two eagle parents — who are seldom on camera at the same time, Ostrander said — the nest contains two eggs on which they take turns sitting. Kenai Information Technology Director Dan Castimore said he plans to begin publicly streaming the eagle camera on the city of Kenai’s website before the chicks emerge.

“I’m hopeful that in the next day or two we’ll be able to release it publicly,” Castimore said.

Initially, the feed may be distributed from city hall through the network between city buildings such as the Kenai Community Library, the senior center, and the visitor’s center.

“Those are locations we could get it to relatively easily,” Ostrander said. “At some point we want to make it available beyond that. We want to get into the schools in some way, if they’re interested. Ultimately we want to get it out on the web so folks anywhere can access it … We want to make it ready for the kind of use we think it will get before we send it out there.”

Ostrander said the camera had been been placed above the nest by a person — whom he didn’t identify to avoid revealing the eagle nest’s location, for fear of tampering — who had spoken to him later about sharing a feed from it with the city.

“Once that discussion occurred, we made sure all the necessary permits were in place, then executed the actual connection from the eagle cam to city hall,” Ostrander said.

Ostrander said putting up the camera required a permit from the Alaska Department of Natural Resources Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation, and had followed the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service’s eagle management guidelines by keeping the camera distant from them. Ostrander said the camera was installed with a lift when the eagles weren’t present.

The project’s cost to date is $1,100, Ostrander said, taken from the city manager’s contingency account. Kenai Finance Director Terry Eubank said the money had been used for the network equipment to stream the camera feed. The software required to distribute the feed publicly will also be used for live video from Kenai’s beach during the summer personal use dipnet fishery, which Kenai administrators plan to include in an dipnetting app the city is developing.

“The personal use fishery will probably buy that software,” Eubank said. “… If you get 10,000 people trying to hit a camera at the same time, it slows it down. So we’ve got to get some software in place to keep that from happening.”

Eubank said nobody at the city has named the eagles yet.

“We’re still trying to figure out which one’s mom and which one’s dad,” he said.

Reach Ben Boettger at ben.boettger@peninsulaclarion.com.

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