April 23, 2014 —
From the comfort of our couches, we can observe the wonder of new avian life evolving in locations around the country—gaining an up-close and personal view of the doings of our feathered friends—without disturbing them one bit.
Thanks to the marvels of modern technology, increasing numbers of webcams are revealing much about the lives of birds and providing a fascinating front-row view of their nest-building practices, reproduction and offspring-raising activities. ‘Tis the season to tune in, with nesting underway, eggs incubating and chicks hatching or soon to do so.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology leads the pack with bird cams trained on six species. Barn owls in Texas are incubating four eggs, while red-tailed hawks in New York are incubating three. Barred owls in Indiana are already raising three chicks. Iris, one of the Hellgate ospreys in Montana, has begun rebuilding that nest in preparation for the return of her mate from last year, Stan, who “is likely to show up around May.” Meanwhile, a new male (Midas) has been visiting and courting Iris. There’s even a camera trained on a Laysan albatross in Hawaii, who is devotedly feeding one nestling.
The popular, but currently saggy great blue heron nest is not faring so well this year. Although last year’s male has visited, he has not resumed residence so far and a pair of mallard ducks has been checking out the empty nest. To view these cams, visit cams.allaboutbirds.org/channel/8/Great_Blue_Herons/ and click the various cam buttons.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission is hosting two live streaming wildlife cameras featuring a Pittsburgh bald eagle nest and Northampton County osprey nest. In Pennsylvania, the osprey is currently listed as state threatened and protected under the Game and Wildlife Code. The osprey was listed as extirpated in Pennsylvania in 1979. In 1986, the state had one known nesting pair of ospreys. Reintroduction efforts in the Poconos prompted a reclassification as endangered and in 1997, ospreys were upgraded from endangered to threatened. In 2010, osprey nest surveys revealed 115 osprey nests in 21 counties.
Both webcams can be seen at www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt?open=514&objID=1108275&mode=2 
The Pennsylvania Falcon Cam at the Rachel Carson State Office Building in Harrisburg, PA, hosted by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, was expecting the first of four eggs to begin hatching around April 20 as this column was being written. Watch the action unfold at www.dep.state.pa.us/dep/falcon/  in the coming days.
Audubon also hosts several live cams including the Hog Island Osprey Cam near Bremen, Maine, the Puffin Cam and Arctic Tern cam at Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge and the Seal Island Cam, providing views of gray seal pups, bald eagles and other birds. Visit projectpuffin.audubon.org/audubon-live-cams to view any of these webcams online.