5/27/16 – Wildlife cams allow a unique opportunity for us to get an intimate look into the lives of nesting birds, or denning mammals, or even schooling fish! We not only have the opportunity to watch and learn about the animals we see on cam, but sometimes there are moderators or chatters on site offering information and answering questions. Other cams have blog pages to follow. Some people are even inspired to research their own questions!
And, we can learn not only about the animal we are watching, but we also learn about the animals they interact with! For example, when I was young, I used to think Baltimore Orioles (Icterus galbula) were rare, but they were never endangered, so they must have been there all along, and I just rarely saw one. However, when I was at the Hays trail last year and this year I have seen them, and I see them on the Harmar nest cam! Yes, Baltimore Orioles frequent the eagle’s nest tree. What are they doing there? Eating! The orioles are eating the seeds of the sycamore tree (Platanus occidentalis).
The sycamore fruit is actually a cluster of achenes, which means each seed is borne inside a single stalk which has hairs that aid in wind dispersal. Many, many of these seed stalks are packed tightly together to make the seed ball (monkey ball or buttonball). Other examples of plants that have fruit that are clusters of achenes which you might be more familiar with are daisies (Asteraceae) and dandelions (Taraxacum).
In the case of the Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) scrape, watching these nest cams can teach you something about what other kinds of birds may be in the area. For example, we have seen Terzo bring food to the Cathedral of Learning that we could identify. Image courtesy of The National Aviary and Wild Earth.
And many of us have commented on the variety of birds and other animals we see or hear on nest cams. For example, if you want to hear a wide variety of unique bird calls, try the Sydney Sea Eagle Cam (Haliaeetus leucogaster), they are making nestorations and should be laying eggs soon.
Several of us also enjoy listening to the bird calls on the Hanover nest cam, despite the lack of eagle activity after their earlier loss this season. One chatter had been particularly bothered by a bird call she was hearing, but unable to identify. I hope I have an answer for her, based on how she described what she was hearing (loud, musical calls). After listening for a few days, I kept hearing one loud call in particular and I captured both the picture and video with sound, which led me to identify an Acadian Flycatcher (Empidonax virescens) that had been showing up in the nest to scrounge through the materials and do his calling. So, NorCa, was this your mystery bird? Image courtesy of Pennsylvania Game Commission, HDOnTap and Comcast Business.