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What's New at the Nest: Duke Farms Eagle Cam is Back on the Air


Hillsborough, N.J. (March 17, 2010) - Duke Farms has announced that their Eagle Cam is back on the air providing live-steam video of a bald eagle nest located on the property in Hillsborough.

 

“In December 2009, our resident pair of bald eagles that arrived here in 2004 began repairing their nest from some of the damage done by storms and high winds this fall and winter,” said Timothy M. Taylor, executive director of Duke Farms. “We, too, had to repair some damage to the Eagle Cam system that delayed our launch of the site this nesting season. However, the end result is a better quality picture and the timing is perfect as the eagles are now incubating two eggs. The public may view the activity at the nest this season through a link on our Web site at dukefarms.org.”

 

The Eagle Cam was originally installed in 2009 as a test demonstration to provide researchers and the Duke Farms staff with an opportunity to assess the challenges of monitoring a pair of nesting bald eagles without causing any disturbance to the birds. Even with minimal promotion of the Eagle Cam, last year more than 1.3 million people from around the world logged on to view this pair of eagles as they successfully raised three eaglets.

 

“Many people are surprised to learn that bald eagles are nesting in central New Jersey, in an area that is so densely populated,” said Gene Huntington, group leader of natural resources for Duke Farms. “Here at Duke Farms, the eagles have the space that they need and, most importantly, the resources that they require to sustain themselves and raise their young.”

 

Duke Farms is in the midst of a major habitat regeneration project, removing invasive non-native plants while also raising and planting plant species native to the area that maximizes the availability of food and shelter for wildlife. This process will help to restore a healthier eco-system that will have far-reaching benefits for this region of central New Jersey.

 

Comeback of the Eagle

Throughout North America, Bald Eagles have been making a comeback after many years of decline, due in part to the once widespread use of Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane (DDT) and other agricultural pesticides. DDT and other chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides were banned in the U.S. in 1972. Scientists credit the ban on DDT and protection offered by the Endangered Species Act of 1973 major factors in the comeback of the bald eagle, osprey and other bird species.

 

In New Jersey, that comeback has been dramatic. In 1985, only a single pair of nesting bald eagles were recorded in the state. In 2009, that number was up to 84 pairs, with 69 active nests; of those, 56 nests were known to be successful in producing a total of 99 young.

 

According to the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection, bald eagles nesting in New Jersey face many challenges, with disturbance and habitat loss the greatest threats in our state. In addition, contaminants in the food chain may negatively affect the eagles nesting in some areas of the state.

 

Once listed as a Federally Endangered Species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the bald eagle remains protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act of 1940. In New Jersey, the bald eagle remains on the state endangered list. Bald eagles are extremely sensitive to human disturbance and the public is advised to stay far away from nesting eagles. People who want to observe or photograph eagles and who come too close may actually cause the birds to abandon a nest.

 

The Eagle Cam as a Learning Tool

Working in collaboration with Duke Farms, the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey (CWFNJ), a non-profit organization dedicated to New Jersey's rare wildlife and providing place-based wildlife education, has developed four lessons plans for educators based on the use of the Eagle Cam in the classroom.

 

“We are very grateful to Duke Farms for sharing this EagleCam with us,” said Margaret O’Gorman, executive director of CWFNJ. “It complements our PeregrineCam that will go live later in the season and provides New Jersey teachers and students with a window into wildlife in their home state.”

According to CWFNJ, the Eagle Cam can be a valuable took in teaching students about the scientific method -- asking questions, performing research, creating a hypothesis, conducting an experiment, analyzing results and forming a conclusion. As they watch the activities of the birds onscreen, students begin the process by asking important questions: What do they eat? How long does it take for the eggs to hatch? How long does it take for the chicks to fly? The lesson plans for the Eagle Cam are available at CWFNJ’s Web site at www.conservewildlifenj.org.

 

What’s Next

“Visitors to the Eagle Cam can expect to see the adult eagles taking turns incubating the eggs for the next several weeks,” said Huntington. “Bald eagles will typically lay one to three eggs beginning in February or March. Two eggs were confirmed in this nest on March 9, but were probably laid around February 20. The eggs are incubated for 35 days before hatching and the young eagles grow quickly. From the time that the parents complete the nest, to the time that their offspring fledge, or leave the nest, is about 20 weeks. When they fledge, young eagles are as large as their parents.”

 

In 2009, the first eagle chick hatched on April 6 and fledged on June 25. Barring any major equipment failures or technical problems, the Duke Farms Eagle Cam will remain on the air until the eagle chicks have fledged and activity at the nest concluded for the season, probably in July or August.

 

About Duke Farms

For nearly 100 years, Duke Farms, a 2,700-acre property in Hillsborough, N.J., has been a destination for the residents of The Garden State and beyond. As one of the largest privately- owned parcels of undeveloped land in the state, it is rich in agricultural, horticultural and ecological resources. The mission of Duke Farms is to be a model of environmental stewardship in the 21st Century and inspire visitors to become informed stewards of the land. For more information on educational and recreational programs, as well as volunteer opportunities, visit WWW.DUKEFARMS.ORG.

 
 
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