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Early History of the Sidney Nest Cameras

Victoria/Sidney Nest

Hancock Wildlife's most prolific and best known eagle pair, mom and pop Sidney, started out as the fall-back pair for our 2006 nesting season. The Hornby Island eagle nest camera had drawn huge numbers of viewers; far more than either David or I had expected. We were expecting maybe 100 researchers and students at universities around the world to be interested. Instead the numbers grew to the point where we had to stop letting more concurrent sessions watch - at 40,000 simultaneous viewers.

As the time of hatching came closer, then crept hourly past his first estimates, David Hancock grew more and more fearful that the eggs would fail - and he started the process of finding another nest we could all watch.

As it happened, he knew of this Sidney nest and knew that chicks had already hatched, literally the day the eggs at Hornby were to hatch. He contacted the property owners, got their blessing and then arranged for an old truck-mounted crane to be donated to the cause. We could not climb the tree to install a camera - that has to be done when the eagles are not in the area, during their Fall trip to the salmon spawning grounds after the chicks fledge. The good thing about this tree was that there had been people working in the field close-by it all the while they were re-building, laying, incubating, and now raising their chicks. There was every indication that us going in and putting a crane 50 feet from the tree would not cause them any major angst.

I was given the task of organizing the install from the hardware point of view. We had arranged with the owners to get access to a telephone line in their office building about 1000 feet away from the nest tree. Telus supplied us with an internet feed there, and I installed a computer with video encoder card in it. Bob Chappel, our Victoria-based video camera expert, supplied us with a pair of power/video adapters that would drive power to the tree and return video and audio through a single piece of cable. All I had to do was bury the cable from the office, half-way to the tree across a cultivated field. The other half of the distance is native brush and blackberries so the cable could sit on the surface.

Did I mention it was hot? Spring of 2006 was excellent - unless you were out in the sun in the middle of a field, digging a trench and trying to strap a weather-proofed video camera and pan-tilt-zoom head to the top of a crane boom. It took several days to get things finally in place, tested and working. By this time the Hornby watchers were pretty sure the eggs had failed; one of them after the chick was seen pecking at the shell - disaster.

We quickly cut over to the new Sidney camera with the images of its two 10 day old chicks and the world breathed a sigh of relief. They again had something to watch and listen to and were able to forget the failure of the Hornby eggs.

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The Bald Eagles Sleeps

Victoria/Sidney Nest The Sidney Bald Eagle Nest cams are giving some insights into Bald Eagle behaviors that were pretty much impossible to observe before the introduction of streaming videos of a Bald Eagle's nest. One such observation that has been recently discussed in the Hancock Wildlife Discussion Forum is characteristics of the eaglet's resting and sleeping behavior. The Sidney Eaglet seems to prefer to nap and sleep directly in front of the close up camera, giving us a great opportunity to observe in detail.

Ostrich has noted that when the eaglet first settles down to rest, he will repeatedly put his head down on the nest bowl but rise and look around after only a couple of seconds. This pattern will repeat a number of times. After gradually settling down the eagle will finally appear to go into a sleeping mode for much more extended periods however, will still seem to be quite alert if a sudden sound is heard and will cause him to rise and look around instantly. Naturally the question comes to mind - is this behavior the result of needing to be alert to dangers?

Ostrich posed the question, "I wonder if there are any general differences in sleep patterns between birds and mammals"?

AJL answered saying, "One comparative study found differences in rapid eye movement sleep (in the study birds, REM sleep time was 10 to 25% lower than in mammals). When the eagles were incubating, some viewers mentioned Dad sleeping with one eye open; I don't know that regular "one eye open" sleep has been confirmed in eagles, but it has in avian species that sleep on the ground. A paper in the Journal of Behavioral Brain Research presented evidence that birds control sleep and wakefulness simultaneously in different regions of the brain. Only birds and aquatic mammals (presumably so they won't drown while sleeping) do this."

Soundguy posted a video which illustrates some of the sleeping behaviors. Ostrich explains that at the start of the video the eaglet appears to be fully asleep. However, once the parent vocalizes nearby he reacts very quickly, going from a sleeping state to an alert state almost immediately. Video can be viewed at:

Skipper has posted a Video named "The Siesta" which captures napping behavior

For more fascinating insights into the activities in the nest take a look at the Discussion Forum - Sidney Bald Eagle Nest topic

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Sounds of a Bald Eagles Nest

Victoria/Sidney Nest *Sounds of a Bald Eagles Nest*

The Bald Eagles Nest near Sidney has not only two camera's which provide streaming Live Video but also a microphone which is allowing detailed sound recordings of the Eagles' various calls and other sounds in and close to the nest.

Soundguy, one of our moderators on the discussion forum, is monitoring and recording these sounds and has posted voice prints, video/sound clips from this nest and also comparison sound clips from other nests.

*First recorded Feeding of a newly hatched chick * can be heard in this two minute edited clip

*Comparison of the Hornby Eagles Chatter with the Sidney Eagles*:

*Sounds of The Intrusion, where the Sidney Eagle pair protect their nest*. As many as four eagles are involved in a very loud battle at the nest:

*Three waves of Canada Geese fly very close to the nest, and the brooding eagle screeches many warnings*:

*Sounds of a Woodpecker near the nest*:

*Female Eagle communicating with her young eaglet*. This vocal fingerprint is unique. We've not heard an exact duplication anywhere, anytime from the female. Now we have a positive make on the female talking directly to her young eaglet, which will aid immensely in the study of eagle language and communication.

The above is just a sampling of some of the recordings captured so far this season. Recordings of the sounds from the Sidney Nest will continue throughout this nesting season. To read the full discussion and see other links to the recordings go to the Hancock Wildlife Discussion Forum, Sounds At The Sidney Nest

Following the fledge and departure of the Sidney Eagles this fall, we plan to create CD's and/or DVD's to store the eagle communication audio from this years as well as last years activity. These will be dated, and run chronologically.

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We've Done It - the Sidney Bald Eagle Nest is Online!

Victoria/Sidney Nest It has taken far longer than anyone ever expected, but we finally have the Sidney nest cameras online in full motion video and audio. Thanks very much to the people at Insinc for giving us a hand with our own Windows streaming media server - getting it to the point where it is up and running and serving up beautiful video from all our cameras.

We'll continue to serve up the smaller 2-frames/second versions on the various sites' main pages so you can quickly see if there is anything happening on the nest - and because so many more people can watch them than can currently watch the full feeds. I'll be adding the Goldstream cameras to their page shortly.


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Close but not here yet

Victoria/Sidney NestDavid Hancock and I just got back from visiting the site of another nest - this one of an osprey on the docks in Esquimalt, near Victoria.

While over on Vancouver Island, we visited the Sidney nest site where I did some minor maintenance on one of the servers and David took some photos. I've been watching the feed off and on for the past couple of weeks while working on getting one version of our free streaming working (or not... seems I'm still learning that anything that can go wrong, does). Most times I've been watching the birds have not been there, or have not been doing anything. Only one time in over two weeks ago did I see them building.

Today they were both in the nest and I grabbed some of the high-res from the archive server to show you.

Read on for more on what has been happening and why

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