Last year, I became obsessed with watching a nest of eaglets. Some research team or other had placed a camera on an eagle family and somehow I stumbled onto it and got hooked. Then, tragically, the eagle parents died and I seriously needed therapy. The babies were brought to a wildlife centre and reared there and eventually released, but I couldn't watch anymore.
So I resisted, this year, when my brother suggested I watch some bird nests being filmed and researched by ornithology students at a couple of American universities. Or rather, I resisted...for a while. And now I'm hooked again.
First, there is Hawk Cam. Three babies and two parents (though you never, or rarely, see the parents together). The babies are more like teens now, and one, in particular, resists being brooded. He clearly feels mom is embarrassing him with her affection. It makes me mighty nervous to watch the kids trying out their wings and hovering close to the edge of where their nest is built. Heck, it doesn't look that secure to begin with, but I figure mom and dad hawk know what they are doing when they choose a spot. Be warned that if you watch these guys, you are likely to see mom or dad show up with a rodent in tow, one that the babies quickly dismember (i.e., the rodent is not a guest, he is a meal). Ew. That is usually when I switch over to...
...Heron Cam. Five chicks (who used to look like little dinosaurs, but now look like herons with short legs) and two devoted parents. As the youngest in a big family, I can relate to the heron chick nick-named (by viewers) "Fiver." Fiver was the fifth and last egg to hatch and he gets bullied by the older kids all the time. But he is starting to fight back and it's making me really happy. On at least two occasions now I've seen him go on little rants around the nest, stomping his feet and yelling at his siblings. Good for him! Go Fiver!
Finally, there is Bluebird Cam. And actually, I shouldn't have left it for last, because it is the one you should watch these days, as the babies are, apparently, going to fly the nest by this time next week! They grow up so fast. There are five of them, hatched on May 9th, I think, and at first they looked like funny little lizards. What is quite Disney-like about them is when all five bright yellow beaks open simultaneously; one half expects singing to come out, but in fact, it usually happens because Mama Bluebird is nearby with a worm or insect for brekkie. They sure don't look like lizards now -- the nest hardly fits them, they have feathers and are stretching their little wings, trying to get a feel for the future, I guess.
Just like all of us, always. So tune in and prepare to become emotionally invested.