Many years ago, I was going to college in New York City and my dad called me because he’d discovered a webcam outside of a camera shop in Times Square. He wanted me to go there, and let him know when, so he could see me waving on the webcam. I tracked down 42nd Street Photo and waved at my dad back in Minnesota. This was the first time I heard of webcams and was introduced to the idea of catching a glimpse of life elsewhere in the world. These days, there are more webcams than ever before. Many capturing views of nature that many otherwise would never have a chance to experience. Webcams can help you connect to nature from the comfort of your own living room.
Then, a few years ago, I read an article about a nature-based webcam site called Explore.org. That year, I started watching two pairs of mating eagles in Decorah, Iowa. I followed the incredible and sometimes heartbreaking process of these two sets of eagles hatching and raising little eaglets. All the way to the day the eaglets fledged and left the nest for good and it sat empty for several months before the whole process started over again. I also started exploring other webcams on the Explore website. I spent an afternoon watching a litter of great dane puppies being born at the Service Dog Project in Ipswich, Massachusetts. Watched a hummingbird lose her eggs to a robin in La Verne, California, then later successfully lay and fledge two new babies. Even watched elephants bathing in a watering hole in Emangusi, South Africa. Last year, I watched the drama unfold as a baby eaglet fell out of a nest on Santa Cruz Island, California. Don’t worry, the baby was rescued. The entire world opens up to your living through webcams.
All Types of Webcams
Since discovering Explore.org webcams, I’ve also come to find that there are many more nature cams and webcams in existence to help you see what the world. Many of these webcams feature animals that have a solid fan base who tunes in daily to watch nature unfold in real-time. Sometimes, nature is cruel and devastating. Other times, it’s beautiful and comforting during uncertain times. It was always nice to be able to tune in to a camera showing eaglet siblings bonking each other on the head to fight for more scraps of food from their parents. It was entertaining to realize that sibling rivalry is a thing in pretty much every species.
As most of the world has shut down and is staying home, I’m realizing more and more how much I look forward to tuning in to my regular webcams to remember that life outside is continuing on, even if it seems to have come to a complete halt otherwise. So, for this week’s blog post, I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite nature cams, as well as some North Shore webcams you can tune into to see how spring is progressing up north.
My Favorite NatureCams/Webcams
1) The Decorah Eagles and Decorah North Eagles Explore Cams
Hands down, my favorite cams to watch are the Explore.org Decorah Eagles and Decorah North Eagles. This is where my love of webcams was really brought to life, and the two pairs I’ve watched regularly. This year, the Decorah Eagles have three eggs that are due to hatch any days now. Meanwhile, the Decorah North eagles laid their eggs a few days earlier and, as I type this, an egg is hatching! By the time you read this, at least one egg will be hatched. Another has a pip, which is the start of the hatching process, and should also be hatched or nearing it. You can watch the eaglets from hatch to fledge through the month of April.
2) Minnesota DNR’s EagleCam
For those in Minnesota who want to “stay local”, you can follow the Minnesota DNR’s EagleCam Live Stream. This pair of eagles is currently raising three hatched eaglets in a park near Minneapolis.
3) Cook County Webcams
Want a taste of the North Shore? Visit Cook County quite a few cams listed on their website. They include the Grand Marais Harbor, Lutsen Mountains – Eagle Mountain, Lutsen Resort’s Beach, and several up the Gunflint Trail including Chik-Wauk Museum and several lodges/outfitters. Most of these are not live webcams, but rather post a photo taken from the cam every five minutes. Still a great way to see what’s going on. Though, due to the Stay at Home order and lack of visitors right now, the webcams are pretty quiet. Still, you can see how the snowmelt is going and see how Lake Superior is behaving.
4) Duluth Harbor Cams
Heading down the shore a bit, check out the Duluth Harbor Cams for a series of live streaming cameras aimed around Duluth’s Canal Park area. These cameras also include the Two Harbors boat launch, Two Harbors depot, and the Silver Bay Marina. Watch the Great Lakes Aquarium (GLA Cam) for a chance to spot Jeffrey the Seagull, a local celebrity who calls the rooftop of the Great Lakes Aquarium home. According to their Instagram account, Jeffrey returned home sometime around March 9th so you may have a chance to spot him. Though, as I type this looking at the cam, he’s currently not home.
5) Big Cat Rescue’s Explore Cams
Heading back to Explore.org a bit, if you’re one of the millions who binge-watched Netflix’s hit docuseries “Tiger King” last month, you’ll be thrilled to know that Carole Baskin’s Big Cat Rescue has a series of live stream webcams. I’ll admit I’ve been watching them for a bit and have yet to see Carole on them. However, the cams themselves are a great insight into day to day life of the lions and Tigers there. Spoiler alert: they sleep a lot. But what’s really neat is that they live stream actual surgeries from the Windsong Memorial Cat Hospital. As I started writing this section I got to watch a surgery live and in progress. Nothing bad, though. Just a regular tooth cleaning and grooming of a young, but very large, cat.
6) Zen and Nature Explore Cams
There are also quite a few “Zen Cams” on Explore that I really enjoy. They include peaceful views of mountains, beaches, and prairies. There’s also a Northern Lights cam, (in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada), a bunch of underwater cams, and even a webcam on the International Space Station! Explore is just full of beautiful live streaming and highlight webcams that are both soothing and educational. In addition to the ones I’ve already listed, there are numerous other webcams for almost every animal on the planet. Experts frequently do live chats where they take questions and educate watchers on various topics. I’ve sat in a few and found them to be incredibly educational and insightful. A great experience for a nature-loving child (and adult) who are stuck inside right now.
7) Times Square Webcams
If you’re really curious about what things look like in Times Square right now, check out EarthCam’s Times Square Webcams. Usually, this area is packed with people 24/7 but since New York went under mandatory shelter in place, the area is eerily quiet.
Connect With the Outdoors While at Home
After delving into the world of nature and education webcams, I realized there are many! Explore is clearly my favorite, as you can tell from the list, but there are many others, Like EarthCam. Right now we always have a webcam on the computer screen in our living room, except when the kids are using the computer for distance learning. They’ve really enjoyed checking in on the baby eaglets throughout the day.
However, parents should be aware that nature can be cruel. Some things that happen on the webcams may not be suitable for all ages and parents will want to be prepared to explain some things. These include attacks on nests from other animals and the death of animals. In some years, baby eagles have passed away due to a lack of food or other unknown reasons. The cams have even experienced the death of the parents and subsequent starvation of the babies. These topics may be a bit too heavy for young kids right now.
Webcams are a great way to see the outside world while stuck inside. Look around and pick a cam that interests you and follow along. You may find yourself tuning in from time to time to check in on your favorite cams even after Stay at Home ends!