It’s like reality TV, but with majestic water birds instead of heavily made-up 20-somethings. Some of the Chesapeake Bay’s favorite webcam stars, a group of great blue heron, have returned to nest about two weeks earlier than usual.Heron couples are back for the season. Photo: Chesapeake Conservancy
The Chesapeake Conservancy’s “heron cam” is on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, on a homeowner’s private property. It is home to a rookery that includes 10 to 12 nests and up to 50 great blue heron! They build their nests 100 feet off the ground in loblolly pine trees.
Beginning Sunday night, webcam viewers noticed great blue heron at several nests on the rotating camera, and they saw mating rituals in action. During the day, the heron have mostly been away from their nests, hunting for fish.
The webcam was installed last year, when the homeowner reached out to Chesapeake Conservancy, wanting to share their backyard rookery with the world. The Conservancy launched a crowdfunding effort at gofundme.com, where, in short order, more than 100 donors raised $6,500, enough to get the camera up and running. The Conservancy continues to raise funds to operate and improve the webcam.
One great blue heron couple took center stage last season, as they took turns caring for a pair of eggs throughout the late winter. The homeowner named the couple “Rell & Eddie” after the surfers Rell Sunn and Eddie Aikau.
This year, the heron are back and the webcam has been upgraded with better panning and zooming capabilities, higher resolution, and a strong infrared camera for clear night views.
The camera is powered by Mediacom, who donated equipment and Internet services for the live-stream. Skyline Technology Solutions, Inc., based in Glen Burnie, Maryland, provided a discounted installation rate and equipment. Skyline also supports the Chesapeake Conservancy’s osprey and peregrine falcon cams. Axis Communications also provided discounted equipment. Generously, a tree company based in Rehobeth, Delaware, donated their services to mount the cam in the 100-foot-tall pine.
The heron cam is the Chesapeake Conservancy’s third wildlife webcam. In partnership with Explore.org, they also host an osprey cam featuring “Tom and Audrey” on Kent Island and a peregrine falcon cam featuring “Boh and Barb” in downtown Baltimore.
To see the live-streaming great blue heron webcam 24/7, click here.