It's EagleCam time again!
Every year the Minnesota DNR's Nongame Wildlife Program sets up a live webcam, pointed right at an eagle's nest. This year's version launched Thursday, Nov. 17 (as a tie-in with Give to the Max Day – but more on that below).
The livestream YouTube link is here, and it's embedded below:
Things have been a little anti-climactic Friday morning – the nest has been empty for most of it.
But the DNR said in an update Thursday that's to be expected. Nov. 17 is pretty early for eagle nesting season, and on Thursday things were active, "though not all the time with both parents rearranging and preparing for another year of fuzz and fish in the nest!"
Both the mama and papa eagle that used the nest last year "are very dedicated" to this specific spot, the DNR said, and made tweaks to it (which they call "nestorations") all year long.
Nature is scary sometimes
A couple things to remember: There's no sound, so no headphones are needed.
Also, this is nature and eagles are carnivores.
"Natural struggles will occur and some of the feeding or other wild bird behaviors may be difficult to watch," the DNR warns.
For example, in 2014 an injured eaglet floundered around in the nest for a bit. Officials eventually intervened and plucked it for a check-up, but it was seriously hurt and had to be euthanized. That same year, a classroom of kids was watching as the male eagle kicked out the one-legged female in favor of a new girlfriend.
Bald eagles nearly went extinct in the 1970s, but they've made a comeback since DDT was banned – the DNR says Minnesota has more eagles than any of the 48 contiguous states.
This is the fifth year of the EagleCam. The DNR is pretty sure the eagles will use this nest again, but when will that be? Unknown. Could be December, January, even February.
If eggs are laid, they incubate for about 35 days, with the male and female taking turns keeping them warm.
What about Give to the Max Day?
The Nongame Wildlife Program says that because it's part of a government agency, it can't be part of the Give to the Max Day as a 501.3c non-profit.
The program also gets no funding from the state's general taxes pool, nor does it get money from hunting license sales.
It's pretty much dependent on donations – but it barely gets any anymore.
"If every Minnesota tax payer donated just $1, we would be so much better off," the program wrote. "But, sadly, less than 3 percent of Minnesotans who file taxes donate to our program. Those who donate are generous, yet the donations have decreased steadily over the decades and we are in serious financial trouble."
They're hoping launching on Give to the Max Day would draw a little more attention to their need.
The Nongame Wildlife Program works to protect more than 700 animal species in Minnesota. You can donate here if you're interested.