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Varieties of Religious Experience: Watching an Eagles’ Nest, Live

| April 20, 2011

Beyond iconography.

A friend sent me the link to this live video feed from a tree in Iowa. Strange phrase, live video feed from a tree in Iowa, but not anymore these days of weird media and weirder subject matters, considering this incredible subject matter: it’s a live video of an eagle’s nest, with eagle and hatchlings. An entire family. With sounds.

It’s astounding. I can’t describe it any other way. We’re lucky to have seen an eagle or two once in a while. Glimpsed an eagle, more like it. These raptors don’t make a habit of lingering to be bothered by our intrusions, and National Geographic or Discovery Channel footage always seems to vanish quickly or be cut off by a commercial or the narrative’s need to move on to something else. Lingering is not longer allowable.

Editor’s Blog

The genius of this live feed, compliments of the Raptor Resource Project, is that it virtually eliminates the intrusion while allowing us to watch the eagles, to be with them, for as long as we like, on their terms–a rare experience now made ridiculously, touchingly accessible. It’s strangely absorbing. Wonderfully so, especially when the eagle appears as if she’s (or he’s: hard to tell the difference between these two) staring at the camera, her fierce eyes more immediate than any of that familiar eagle iconography that hangs on walls or on pennants.

Every once in a while, a surprise: a peek from one of the eagle’s eaglets, who’ll be flying the coop in about four or five months. Another surprise: when the eaglets chirp. Or is it a neighbor? Yet more surprises: the adult eagles have been a couple, we are told by the Raptor Resource Project, since the winter of 2007-08. “Her markings at that time indicated that she was about 4 years old. They successfully hatched and fledged 2 eaglets in 2008, then 3 in 2009, and 3 more in 2010.” In other words they’ve lasted longer than most couples and given birth to more offsprings than most. Their latest hatches: February 25, second on February 28, third on March 5, one of which can be seen in this video.

The nest is 6 feet across, 4 feet deep and weighs about 1,000 pounds, 80 feet high in a cottonwood tree on private property on the banks of the Trout Run, which you hear in the background, in northeast Iowa.

The raptor project tells us: “The Raptor Resource Project (RRP) maintains the cams, of which there are two, and the feed is streamed online 24/7. Both are positioned on one of the nest’s supporting limbs about 4-5 feet above the nest. The main cam is automated and is trained on the nest. The other cam has pan-tilt-zoom capabilities (PTZ). At dark the main cam switches to infrared (invisible to the eagles) night-time view. Here is a slide show of the cam installation in fall 2010.” (For a full Q&A on the nest, see the original page here.)

Talk about a religious experience. Have a look. It’s worth enduring the first 30 seconds’ ad.

–Pierre Tristam

And it certainly beats this, if you have the misfortune or remembering those miserable days:

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4 Responses for “Varieties of Religious Experience: Watching an Eagles’ Nest, Live”

  1. tulip says:

    I’ve been watching it since the 3rd egg hatched. What a wonderful, awesome look into nature, and see things we would never be able to see if it weren’t for webcams, security cameras etc. I keep checking in several times a day.

  2. William says:

    This is really cool. Must show it to the grandkids. Thanks Pierre!

    • Piere Tristam says:

      William, my son has been glued to them. We check on them periodically throughout the day. Watching them feed this morning was like a transfiguration. It’s nuts.

  3. tulip says:

    The eaglets have grown immensley. When the parents bring in the food and dismantle it for feeding is rather gross. The babies are now becoming more active and sometimes funny, especially when they do a “poop shoot.” There are also archived videos that you can click on to see the eggs hatch and many other interesting things. Also you can scroll down and click on to where there is a video of them installing the cams.

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