As I type, I am watching a beautiful barn owl tend to her newly hatched owlets. In another corner of my screen, I keep an eye on a pair of bald eagles, taking turns with their two offspring. Both of these are live streaming audio-video from a camera placed near the nests.
Anyone with broadband Internet access and a healthy computer should be able to access these 24 hour Webcams. If your computer is more than five years old, the streaming video may be too demanding for your computer. When you connect to the Web site, there may be a software download, such as Adobe, Flash Player or Active X Control, to allow your computer to access the video feed. These are safe downloads.
To see these live views, go to www.sportsmans paradiseonline.com. Scroll down to “Live Bald Eagle Nest Cam” or right below it, “Live Barn Owl Nest.”
The barn owls have an amazing following of more than 18,000 viewers from around the world. Entire classrooms of children watch, and listen to occasional narrations from the California homeowners who installed the owl box.
Two years ago, Carlos and Donna Royal placed the owl box atop a 15-foot pole in their back yard and installed a Webcam with sound and night vision.
Finally this February two wild barn owls, Molly and McGee, took up residence. After laying five eggs, Molly hatched her first owlet, Max, on March 21.
The fourth owlet hatched Sunday.
At his Monday morning narration, Carlos graciously provided information on the owls and answered questions sent in by second graders.
He complemented the children on their excellent questions, and provided intriguing information in response.
Children’s questions ranged from “How do the owls create their nest?” to “Why are owls called owls?” and “Why don’t owls sleep upside down?”
To answer the first question, Carlos explained that owls hunt and consume two to eight rodents each day.
They can swallow a small rabbit whole, and later regurgitate the indigestible bones and fur in the form of owl pellets.
The nest is padded with animal fur reclaimed through the owl pellets. Carlos also noted that the day before Molly’s owls hatched, she began to tear the meat apart, practicing for feeding her owlets.
Online, you can watch as she holds the rabbit carcass in her talons, strips the meat off and offers it directly to the babies huddled under her belly.
Below the live video picture are links to further information on the owls, with recorded highlights of the nesting.
There is also a live chat for viewers.
Another live video feed at this site features a pair of bald eagles whose two eggs hatched Saturday.
The eagles have built their nest on a cliff at Santa Catalina Island, Calif. The male and female take turns tending the nest and feeding the eaglets.
The Web site www.sportsmansparadiseonline.com has links to several live wildlife Webcams, including underwater cams and views of wild African waterholes.
Since the cameras send live video, and not all have night vision, some may not be visible 24 hours a day.
To watch a video feed while you work, create a small window, with or without sound, and continue working in another area of your screen.
Viewing more than one at a time may diminish your computer’s responsiveness online, but while you wait, enjoy your window on wildlife.
Patty Harshbarger, owner of Computer Renaissance in Bradenton, can be reached at email@example.com or (941) 753-8277.