For weeks people from all over the world have had a front-row seat to the absorbing—and sometimes harrowing—happenings at a great blue heron nest in Ithaca, New York, thanks to two live-streaming cameras.
They’ve watched as the birds courted, mated, tended to their eggs, and fought off predators: great horned owls attacked in the wee hours of morning, eliciting “rarely heard, spine-chilling defensive screams” from the parents as they defended their nest, says John Fitzpatrick, director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. (Scroll down for a video of the attack.) For the past few days there’s been a different kind of activity: Four of the five eggs have hatched, with the last chick expected to bust out if its shell at any moment.
The cameras have attracted more than 500,000 viewers from 166 countries. “From the very first night, viewers witnessed little-known events, such as herons courting and mating by moonlight,” says Fitzpatrick “Even the professionals are gaining new insights from these live cams.”
Since 2009 herons have been nesting in the spot in Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Sapsucker Woods, feeding their young a steady diet of fish and frogs.
If you just can’t get enough of wildlife cams, check out our top-10 list. (We figured we should put to good use all of those hours we’ve spent engrossed with watching bald eagles, penguins, hammerhead sharks, and more.) They’re fabulous—click here now to start watching!