24 June 2017
Big Brother is BIRD-Watching YOU!
By Iván Ramírez
Nature is but a click away with these amazing live bird cams run by BirdLife’s partners across Europe & Central Asia. Storks, eagles, kestrels – you name it! Our Head of Conservation, Iván Ramírez tells us more…
Young birders in the making
Last weekend, I took my little kids for a walk in a nearby forest. We were on a mission: we had to identify at least 10 different species of animals and 5 different plants, and I had an enticing prize to offer: an early swim in the river. As we left the car and started walking – binoculars, guides and very sleepy eyes included – we talked about everything we were seeing around us. Or I should say, rather, I (tried) to answer every single question they had…about everything. ‘What is that tree?’ ‘Can we climb it?’ ‘What is that bird?’ ‘Can I lift that stone?’ ‘What is that bug?’ ‘What does it eat?’… If you have kids, you know what it is like…let’s just say that by the twenty-fifth question your brain is completely fried and starts sending contradictory messages…asking yourself why on earth you decided to go for this walk…while loving every single minute of it.
Back to nature
Being in the great outdoors – getting dirty, cold and sweaty…going wild – is one of our ancestral rights. Connecting to our common ground is as important as trying to understand it. And so, while I answered their questions, I also put many more to them, and to myself too. In just an hour, we identified our 10 animals and 5 plants, and many more, and they were exhausted. We went to the river and enjoyed the cold mountain stream, but they kept asking for more. Since it was too hot to walk again, I grabbed my smartphone and searched the internet for some of the live bird cams that I knew of. Their reaction amazed me: glued to the screen, open happy eyes full of excitement.
Technology in flight
We all know how technology is changing the way we see, study and enjoy nature. We are now able to deploy miniaturised data-loggers that tell us where some of the rarest birds travel to, like the amazing journey of the Sociable lapwing. We can identify deforestation or droughts using satellites, and we have even experienced the flight ‘on-board’ an Atlantic gannet. We live in an the age of selfies and Instagram stories, at a time where anyone can fly a drone with their own mobile phone…and we naturalists are no different than others. Technology is here, let’s use it wisely. As an example, back in 2014, the U.S. National Park Service banned recreational drones in all of its national parks, largely to protect wildlife. But drones are also being used to monitor breeding birds…you see?
Live cams: the missing link?
So let’s go back to our mountain river, the smartphone and just how engaging a live cam can be. Right now, when millennials are increasingly disconnected from non-connected environments, technology and remote cameras could be our missing link.
Have you ever tried to bring a Black vulture to your kids’ school? Have you tried to show them how fascinating a seabird can be at night? It is all in your hands now, and we are bringing you here the latest, most updated list of our BirdLife partners’ live cameras for you to pick and enjoy.
These cameras are not fulfilling George Orwell’s 1984 allegory, but using technology for a truly positive and inspirational purpose. They have been set up so we can share our admiration of nature, and to allow those who cannot travel the chance to explore, to feel, to respect.
Have you ever been in the middle of a forest in Estonia talking to your three brothers as Black storks do? Want to feel like a kestrel arriving home? Bear the Israeli heat like Short-toed eagles?
So take a tour, watch the live feeds and admire nature from your home screen. But please remember, don’t let Big Brother win – as soon as you can, grab your walking shoes and, literally, go wild! Remember that wildness is what challenges us, so no need to climb peaks or sky-dive, just look to your nearby garden, forest…and remember there is a refreshing swim in a mountain river waiting for you.
Iván Ramírez – Head of Conservation, BirdLife Europe & Central Asia
Our Partners’ Bird Cams – Live from the Nest!
*Note: Many of these live ‘nest’ cams are seasonal, operating until the young chicks have fledged.
The following list is the most up-to-date list of our partners’ cameras currently in operation, but live broadcasts will end as the season draws to a close.
So hurry up and get watching or you’ll have to wait until next year!
DOF – Denmark
EOS – Estonia
Grey Heron colony
NABU – Germany
Common kestrel (Hamburg)
Common kestrel (Berlin)
GONHS – Gibraltar
Pallid swifts (operated by the Dept. of Environment, Gibraltar)
MME – Hungary
Fuglavernd – Iceland
SPNI – Israel
LOB – Latvia
LOD – Lithuania
VBN – Netherlands
NOF – Norway (in partnership with Zooom)
SPEA – Portugal
Shag (Berlengas Islands)
Cory’s shearwater (Corvo Island)
Cory’s shearwater (Berlengas Islands)
SEO/BirdLife – Spain