Eagle cam to go online soon

Posted: Sunday, July 07, 2002

HAINES (AP) -- Ever wonder what bald eagles do all day?

The American Bald Eagle Foundation is getting ready to make observations of the national symbol as easy as a click of the mouse.

The foundation last week unveiled its ''eagle cam,'' a remote camera mounted atop a 65-foot pole that beams images of an eagle family to a receiver and television for public viewing.

The images can be seen on a television at the foundation in downtown Haines. Within the next couple weeks, the images will be broadcast on the World Wide Web, said foundation executive director Richard Cooper, a professional videographer spearheading the effort.

The first images showed a pair of eaglets.

''You can see them bobbing their heads around,'' Cooper said.

The camera, equipped with a 300-millimeter telephoto lens, records the action from the nest. The camera is on private land about a mile from the foundation and about 200 feet from the nest. It rests inside a waterproof, weather-tight, heated enclosure.

Cooper said he'd like to move the camera to the Council Grounds to capture images of the annual autumn and winter congregation of bald eagles.

''Its hard for people to comprehend what 3,000 eagles look like,'' he said. ''With the camera, people from all over the world will be able to see.''

The eagle cam is paid for through a $4,500 grant from the Atlanta-based Shirley Family Foundation. Ed Shirley, an eagle foundation trustee, heads up Shirley foundation. Alaska Power and Telephone put up the pole and ran power to the camera.

Cooper said the camera's benefits are numerous.

''We get 300 to 500 hits on our web site each day, and that's achieved without much effort,'' he said. ''I think we'll get thousands of people to look at the web site after we start broadcasting.''

The camera was mounted in the spring, before eagles occupied the nest. Wildlife biologist Mike Jacobson said protection of the raptor is key.

''Our main concern is the distance the camera is from the birds. The worst thing that could happen would be the eagles abandoning their nest.''

Federal regulations that require a 330-foot buffer around eagle nests do not apply to the eagle cam, which is not categorized as development.

''Putting a camera on a pole 200 feet from a nest is less intrusive,'' Jacobson said. ''It does not destroy habitat, and there's not much disturbance to the eagles.''

He said the camera would be beneficial.

''Ideally, you'd have a number of nests to look at, but even a single nest could help researchers view a number of eagle activities. You can see what they are feeding on, observe adult brooding habits, and look at other behaviors.''

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On the Net:

http://www.baldeagles.org/



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