Behind the Scenes of Our Bird Cams [Video]

November 20, 2013
Great Blue Heron at Bird Cam nest

In the spring of 2012 we launched our Bird Cams project with live, high-definition views of a Red-tailed Hawk nest on the Cornell campus. A similar camera on a Great Blue Heron nest outside our offices launched several weeks later, followed by Ospreys, kestrels, loons, and other species. The project quickly attracted legions of fans and a fast-moving yet tight-knit group of chatters supported by more than three dozen volunteer moderators. Since then, our Bird Cams have been watched by hundreds of thousands of people for a cumulative amount of time best measured in centuries.

New self-paced course: Learn How to Identify Bird Songs, Click to Learn More

To recap some of the Bird Cams’ highlights so far, and to offer fans a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to make the cams work, project leader Charles Eldermire gave a seminar in our Visitor Center auditorium on Nov. 18, 2013. It seemed only fair to turn the livestreaming cameras around and broadcast Charles’s seminar live to the public. We now invite you to watch an archived version of the seminar, including secrets about how we livestream unpredictable birds in inaccessible locations, plus lots of video highlights including courtship, hatching, and even a midnight owl attack.

This talk took place on November 18, 2013, as part of the Cornell Lab’s long-running Monday Night Seminar series, a long-standing tradition established decades ago by Lab founder Dr. Arthur Allen. In 2013, to enable more people to enjoy these thought-provoking talks by international experts, we began livestreaming some of the seminars. If you enjoyed this seminar, check this list for our list of future speakers—we’ll note which upcoming talks will be livestreamed—or come visit us in person! If you missed any talks, please see our index of archived livestreamed seminars.

Here’s the archived video of Charles Eldermire’s seminar (introduction by Miyoko Chu, the Lab’s senior director of communications):



  • Thanks for all your hard work. I have enjoyed the bird cams so much. Due to 25 years of MS, my bird watching is now enjoyed via Cornell cams.

  • Diane Rooney

    Thanks for the great seminar on the web cams and their communities. I am visiting Hog Island Maine next summer for a Raptor Camp after two seasons of watching ospreys on the cam. It would be great to learn about the cam & community success, not just in research and in drawing in people already involved in nature, but reaching out and drawing people not involved in nature at all, and developing them into supporters and advocates.

  • Diane Adams

    thank you, Charles answered many of my questions about operations of the cams projects, I just began with the RTH this spring and am now hooked on the Ontario feeder.

Behind the Scenes of Our Bird Cams [Video]