Hi, I’m Charles Eldermire, project leader for the Cornell Lab’s bird cams. Watching the Great Blue Heron Cam has given us all new insight into the lives of these spectacular birds. And we’d like to show you a behind the scenes look at how we made it happen. The actual installation of the cameras on March first was the final piece in a months long process that involved ornithologists, technology experts, and perhaps the most important piece, someone to climb the tree. This is Keith Vanderhye, owner of Limbwalker Tree Care, and he donated his considerable expertise in tree climbing to get the cams into position. Before Keith and I could even approach the tree we laid three Cat6e cables under the waters of Sapsucker Woods pond to carry data and power to the tree. This was an important first step because it allowed us to power up the cameras to fine tune their position. This white oak snag has stood dead, for nearly 50 years and yet Keith remarked that it was rock solid and he was able to make good progress up the tree using spikes, a strap, and an assortment of carabiners. We had mocked up the nest site prior to the installation to have an idea of how far away the cameras would need to be to capture the bustling action in the nest, but it was up to Keith to make it happen. As Keith arrived at the nest we could really appreciate its full size and beauty, as well as the skill of the herons in constructing it. It extends almost four feet from the tree. It’s over a foot thick, and has withstood multiple Ithaca winters. And to think, these Herons built it with nothing but their bills to manipulate and weave those sticks into place. I can only imagine what I’d be able to build with a pair of chopsticks, but I guarantee, it would not be nearly so stout. We planned this install to have as little impact as possible. So with that being said, our options were extremely limited as to where we could place the cameras. We put the Axis 5534-E pan, tilt, zoom camera, four feet above the nest. This is the cam that captures activity around the pond and the close-ups of the family from above. The second camera is an Axis 1602-E and it gives intimate eye level views of the nest and the Heron’s favorite branch. It also has stellar low light performance for night time viewing. Coupled with the great audio the mics pick up, the sounds of Sapsucker Woods come alive with honking geese, tapping woodpeckers, and spring peepers to name a few. Not to mention, the Herons. While it ultimately took Keith about four hours to install these two, state of the art cameras, since then, viewers like you have watched the Heron’s lives unfold for over hundreds of millions of hours. It is our hope that these cams will bring joy to bird lovers and help inspire those who might not think about birds on a typical day, to stop, and see just how cool birds really are. Keep watching and please take a moment to pledge your support to birds and habitat conservation. Thanks.

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See how a team at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology installed live-streaming video cameras at a Great Blue Heron nest before the birds returned in spring to Sapsucker Woods Pond in Ithaca, New York. With the cams in place, more than 1.4 million people watched as the herons came back and raised their young.