As anyone willing to own up to their Internet dependency will admit, finding awesome new content to watch or read while winding down from a long day at work is always a thrill. And as many of us tech-savvy science and nature lovers have discovered, there is now an absolute embarrassment of riches in terms of entertaining yet educational content, from curated sub-Reddits to podcasts to YouTube series.
Now, The Washington Post has tipped us off to a new source: the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Bird Cams. Created for the famed avian research institute’s All About Birds website, the cameras let you watch live streams of diverse bird species around the world, and there's plenty going on to keep you riveted.
One of their featured feeds comes from a camera mounted next to an osprey nest in Missoula, Montana, that has documented the ups and downs of a mated pair named Louis and Iris ever since the two returned to their annual nesting site in early spring. Now, at the tail end of the chick-rearing season, you might luck out and catch their surviving fledgling, Lele, returning to the nest from flying and hunting practice sessions before she migrates south for the fall. The Hellgate Osprey cam is managed by the Montana Osprey Project research group.
Another of the site’s featured feeds comes from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, who installed a camera in a California Condor nest in Los Padres National Forest. The parents, both hatched in captivity and released into the wild as part of the California Condor Recovery Program, have become bird celebrities after thousands tuned in to watch them raise their single chick (hatched April 6) into an energetic and thriving juvenile. Though their numbers are slowly growing, the species remains critically endangered after habitat loss, hunting, lead poisoning, and endocrine disruption caused by the pesticide DDT nearly wiped them out during the 20th century.
If you’re looking for some year-round action away from nests, All About Birds offers a number of cams located at feeding sites, such as the hummingbird feeder in the West Texas mountains, or the fruit feeder platform in the Panama jungle.
And if you want to be soothed by the sight of birds going about their business in a gorgeous natural habitat, check out Cornell Lab’s moving camera overlooking a pond in Sapsucker Woods, Ithaca, New York.
Now, if, in the course of your live cam binging, you spot a majestic bird that you can’t identify or decide that you want to learn more about any of the species being shown, you can search through the website’s handy bird guide and check out the profile page for each entry. These descriptions include range maps, natural history and behavior facts, audio of the vocalizations, and photos and video clips.