EagleCam - Welcome to the New Season with a New Camera!

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Where Have You Been?

December 15, 2017

We’ve been flying around, arranging sticks, posing for the new camera and – oh wait, that’s for the birds….

Here at the Minnesota Nongame Wildlife Program, we’ve been busy with many projects, not the least of which is replacing the popular EagleCam! As you know, the camera that for the past five years had been streaming live video from a Bald Eagle’s nest somewhere in St. Paul stopped working last spring. Thanks to donations (and a lot of behind-the-scenes work on our part), we’re thrilled to introduce you to our new EagleCam! An inspection of the cottonwood tree in which the nest is located suggested the tree is likely to continue standing for many years, but the branch the camera was mounted to was dead. So, with the help of Floyd Total Security and Xcel Energy and their skilled bucket truck operators, we installed the new equipment on a different branch of the same tree overlooking the same nest as previous years.


Night vision & more

The new camera is an upgrade over the previous model. It’s a high-definition camera and it features infrared imaging for nighttime viewing. It also includes a microphone so, for the first time, we should be able to not only see but also hear what’s going on in the nest. We’re still working with our vendor, Floyd Security, to iron out some issues with the sound and other controls, so please bear with us. Also, during our camera break-in period, the web feed cannot be viewed using Internet Explorer; you will need to view it using another browser, such as Chrome, Firefox or Safari. We hope to have this changed and everything else in tip-top shape by the time eggs arrive in January or February.


Eagle activity

In the meantime, we’ve observed our beloved eagle pair visiting the nest daily. They’re not spending much time in the nest yet, but at least once a day they can be observed bringing in sticks for “nestorations,” eating a meal, or defending their territory. This is the period when the eagles prepare the nest for a new brood of offspring. It may seem early (and it is!), but these two early Minnesota nesters are using their bodies to melt snow, add materials, and form the nest bole (a small depression that keeps eggs from rolling around and facilitates effective incubation). We’re relatively sure this is the same pair as the past five years, but we’re only able to positively identify the banded female.


What else is stirring?

Have you been seeing what look like small tunnels in the snow crisscrossing yards or trails? These tunnels are made by voles traveling to food sources and nest sites and are evidence of a busy winter social life!


Voles are a group of rodents native to Minnesota that look like stocky, short-tailed mice. Minnesotan voles – some of which are common and some rare – resemble hearty Minnesota outdoor enthusiasts and remain active all winter. Voles don’t hibernate during the winter like bears or migrate to warmer places like some birds.


In summer voles are solitary and shy, spending most of their time underground in tunnels and dens. During the winter they become social, sharing communal nests with one or two other voles. By digging tunnels under the snow, they enjoy a freedom of movement not possible in the summer. In fact, a vole’s home range can increase from about 25 square meters to more than 60 square meters during winter months!


Be sure to keep an eye on the ground to see if you can spot the telltale signs of these intrepid winter enthusiasts!


The call of the wild

You can see and learn more about what wildlife does this time of year by participating in a naturalist-led program at one of Minnesota’s state parks. Just down the road from the Mall of America, you can see what’s stirring along the trails at Fort Snelling State Park Saturday, Dec. 16. Or head north an hour to Wild River State Park to learn where wildlife goes in the winter. Identify animal tracks and signs on a winter hike Sunday morning at Afton State Park. All the activities are free, but a vehicle permit is required to enter the parks.


Keeping in touch

We plan on updating this newsletter bi-monthly, or as important updates are needed. You can also follow us and share your thoughts on our Nongame Wildlife Program Facebook page.


Thanks for your help!

Like what you read here? Want to learn more? Your Minnesota DNR Nongame Wildlife Program and the educational products it provides (including the popular EagleCam), are made possible by donations from the public. You can donate online or when you file your Minnesota income, property, or corporate tax forms. Please give today.