A Nest Camera for the Pembroke Pines Bald Eagles?

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A Nest Camera for the Pembroke Pines Bald Eagles?

NewMexiKen
Administrator
You all should be aware that the Mayor of Pembroke Pines has appointed a Steering Committee to develop and recommend plans for a local Bald Eagle protection ordinance, and a Bald Eagle Sanctuary on the City-owned land that hosts our local eagle nest. Copies of the Steering Committee minutes and related documents are available at links near the top of the main "Watching a Bald Eagle Nest" page. There is also a draft plan with photos and a diagram of a possible configuration for the nest camera.

Before obtaining sponsorship and funds, and at least 90 days before beginning actual installation of a nest camera, the Committee must draw up detailed specifications and determine initial and operating costs. At that point they plan to seek a permit from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)

In considering the specific plans for an eagle nest camera, the Committee faces a logistical problem that could adversely impact the eagles.

In at least one prior nest camera permit, the FWC has required that the camera must be located on a separate structure, at least 20 feet from the nest, There appears to be no hard and fast written regulation establishing this requirement, so it is possible that FWC may be able to use some discretion in evaluating our plan to have the camera placed on the nest tree itself.

There is one particularly good reason to place the camera on the nest tree. The US Fish and Wildlife Service nest camera in West Virginia  is placed on the nest tree, with a very good view of the nest. It includes live sound. By installing the camera on the tree itself, the camera moves with the nest when the wind blows, providing a very stable and sharp image. If you have spent any time looking at the nest, you have seen how much that tree sways in even light breezes. Our local nest has several large branches, located just above the nest, that would be quite suitable for a camera. Modern Web cameras are small and unobtrusive.

There is another valid reason for allowing an exception for our local nest. If FWC holds to this restrictive policy, the only alternative would be to put up a very tall pole to hold the camera. It certainly could not be put on another tree, as both the camera and the nest would move in the wind, usually in different directions. Construction of a pole and camera platform would require clear-cutting a path to the nest tree to allow entry of heavy equipment, a much greater (and more permanent) disturbance to the eagles' habitat than if a small camera were installed on one of the large branches in the nest tree. The City would have to give permission, and itself may need to seek a permit from FWC.  As shown in the diagram, and enclosure for the equipment that receives and translates the camera's signal could be located near the property line, away from the nest.

At yesterday's Pembroke Pines Bald Eagle Sanctuary Steering Committee meeting, the feasibility of even carrying out the Nest Cam project under these circumstances came into question. Should Doug Young, the Chairman of the group be asked to abandon efforts towards having a Nest Cam in place before the fall of 2010, in time for the eagles' next breeding season?

In debating this question, it became clear that the Steering Committee desires, however reluctantly, to provide Doug with discretion to continue to consider alternative camera placements. There was consensus that the Steering Committee's concerns must be forcibly expressed as soon as possible, in a meeting with FWC, with a view to obtaining their provisional opinion as to feasibility of placing the camera on the nest tree.

Most nest cameras in Florida are placed at Osprey nests. These nests are usually on rigid platforms that do not move in the wind, so there is no issue of distortion of the image. They also tend to be in more open locations, not in the middle of a woodland. Perhaps the FWC policy was instituted with such a situation in mind.

Doug will be in contact with FWC officials as soon as possible. Keep tuned in, and enjoy the eagle camera!
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Re: A Nest Camera for the Pembroke Pines Bald Eagles?

vdelauz
Ken,

For me, the timing of your post couldn't have been more coincidental because the thought of a nest cam crossed my mind when you e-mailed me about the unknown of how many eggs/chicks the eagle actually has. As I read your comment, I thought about how great a nest cam could be, especially for collecting better data on the eagles. Remember the adults feeding the chick(s), but how we were unsure of where the prey actually came from? Was it cached in the nest? Possibly, but unlikely, regurgitated? Was it too small to see as they brought it to the nest? Well, these and many other questions could have easily been answered had there been a nest cam installed. I'm no expert, but something tells me that if the eagles built the nest there and came back to the use the same nest for a second time, then they are more than comfortable with the traffic, the noise, the surroundings, the observers and, by all means, something as simple, small and useful as a nest cam.

If it gets to the point where there is a public meeting needed for a debate about the placement or subsequent approval for this proposed nest cam, please post this information as I would love to be a willing participant.

Thank you for the update!