Nest Cams: Eagles, Red-tails, Bluebirds and Loons

All over North America, it’s nesting season. And you can watch.

“Nest cams” offer intimate views into the family life of birds.  By this time in early May, eggs in many nests have already hatched and the nests are filled with little downy bodies with occasionally gaping mouths.  Over the coming weeks, you can watch parents feed and shelter their young, who will gradually grow feathers, test their wings and venture from the nest.  The links below take you to a sampler of available nest cams from around the continent: bald eagles in British Columbia , Red-tailed hawks in New York City, Eastern bluebirds in New York state, and loons in Minnesota.

Click on the bird name to go to the live feed, and please be patient while the video feed loads. Have fun.


This nest cam is maintained by Hancock Wildlife Foundation in British Columbia, Canada. The view of the eagles is absolutely extraordinary.


Photo by Erin Callihan, New York University; click photo for article

Today is a critical day for this pair of young red-tailed hawks that are nesting on a ledge of NYU’s Bobst Library, outside the office of the president of the university.  Only one of the pair’s three eggs has hatched; the other two eggs are still in the nest, but are not viable.

An attempted rescue is planned for midday today to aid the female, known as Violet,  who is suffering from a severely swollen foot, casued by a metal band cutting into her leg.  According to the New York Times, which maintains the nest cam, Bobby and Kathy Horvath, the city’s preeminent wildlife rehabilitators,  will attempt to take Violet from the nest and bring her into the office, where a veterinarian will try to remove the band and assess the hawk’s health.  If she needs rehabilitation, her single eyass (the term for a baby hawk) will probably also be taken from the nest and raised by hand.  It is apparently unlikely that the male, known as Bobby, would be able to rear the baby on his own.

As I watch right now, Violet has just returned to the nest with a dead squirrel. Breakfast. Mmmm.


Male eastern bluebird in Kansas; photo by kansasphoto/

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology provides links to many nest cams, including this one in Glenham, NY. Five nestlings hatched on April 30th and are now dark, downy mounds that periodically erupt into a frenzy of open-mouthed peeping, as they strain upward to compete for the mother bluebird’s feeding attentions, before subsiding into a sleepy mass of fluff.  For more about bluebirds, visit the North American Bluebird Foundation.


Parent loon feeding baby; pmarkham/

As of this writing, the loons are still incubating the eggs, which are expected to hatch in early June.  You may also want to follow Larry Backlund’s Loon Blog for fascinating updates and detailed loon observations. Mr. Backlund knows his loons, pointing out, for example, that the parent loons easily distinguish between bald eagles and osprey flying so high overhead as to appear as specks. The loons become agitated by eagles, which have been known to raid nests and eat nestlings, while ignoring the ospreys, which stick to fish and therefore pose no threat.

Explore posts in the same categories: 2011, Birds, In the City, May, Seasons, Spring, Wildlife/Natural History

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5 Comments on “Nest Cams: Eagles, Red-tails, Bluebirds and Loons”

  1. Wild_Bill Says:

    I’m constantly amazed at what you experience in your neck of the woods! Despite the huge populations there is much wildlife that chooses to live alongside human population.

    I’m a huge loon fan. We see them often on lakes around here. They like remote areas with little disturbance.

    • I saw – and heard – loons when I lived in maine, and more recently when visiting relatives in British Columbia. Can’t imagine they’ll be coming to the city any time soon. The others birds in the post – eagles, red-tails and even bluebirds (see the comment below by nycedges) – have all been spotted within city limits. I love bluebirds, but have not been lucky enough to see one since I was a child. Some day…
      Thanks for the visit from the wilds, Bill!

  2. nycedges Says:

    what fortuitous timing! I was taking photos in Bayswater State Park (Far Rockaway)last week and spotted a couple of tiny blue-colored birds hopping around the fields but had no idea what they were. Thanks to your post I now see they were Eastern Bluebirds — don’t think I’ve ever noticed them in NYC before, or probably I just wasn’t looking!

    • How thrilling. Lucky, lucky you. Such lovely little birds. I haven’t actually seen a bluebird since I was a kid. To hear that you saw them w/i city limits is fantastic. After a dangerous decline in their population, bluebirds are rebounding, thanks to strong conservation efforts. So happy to hear you saw them in Queens. Readers, do visit New York City Edges for virtual tours of remote and unusual areas in the city.

  3. mthew Says:

    Nest cams might be the ultimate reality TV; they aren’t scripted and an awful lot of what moralists would call “bad” things do happen. Eggs don’t hatch. Parents don’t make it back to the nest. Cowbirds parasitize the nest, replacing a bluebird egg with one of their own, and the baby cowbird out-eats the bluebird chicks. Birds die, in enormous numbers, even in the normal course of events. By normal I mean pre-Anthropocene, before humans had such power. The new normal means even more deaths, at unsustainable levels. It’s important to remember these things, since starring at screens tends to deaden our thought processes.

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