Online cameras showcase the great blue heron’s secret nest life.

ISLAND WILD: Streaming bird cams capture nest life

It’s a whole new world…for most of us unfamiliar with the secret life of a bird nest

It’s a whole new world…for most of us unfamiliar with the secret life of a bird nest.

A new language must be learned, with terms like eyas (hawk hatchling), aerie (eagle nest), pip (first crack in hatching egg), or hallux (rear-facing bird toe).

The hatching process takes 50 hours from first pip, in the case of red-tailed hawks.

There’s just no rushing nature, which, in the hawk’s case, has the power to keep over 8,000 viewers enthralled for weeks on end.

Holding court at Ithaca, NY (home to Cornell University’s Laboratory of Ornithology), a pair of red-tailed hawks plays out the mating season in a nest above a sports field, while nearby, a great blue heron pair withstand spring snow squalls and fight off marauding midnight owls.

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A night-time favourite, the Ithaca heron nest, features state-of-the-art night-vision video that captures a starry skyline and mesmerizing sounds of spring peepers and pond-life below.

Recently, during a freak spring snowstorm, the male heron – buried in snow – stayed put on five precious eggs for 22.5 hours.

During nesting season, both heron sexes develop a featherless breast area called a brood patch that transfers their body warmth.

Bird lovers and students in classrooms around the world tune in to watch red-tailed hawks dismantle sparrows, pigeons and voles to feed nestlings.

Teachers sometimes report a decrease in aggressive behaviour, noting that nest-watching has a calming effect.

Falconers will find their forte at the University of Calgary peregrine falcon’s nest….located on a gravel ledge some seven stories high.

Nest highlights thus far have included scraping out a bowl in the gravel, male and female’s vociferous greetings as they come and go, and laying of brick-coloured eggs.  Check out

Closer to home, the bald eagle nest on Hornby Island – first started in 2006 – is once again online.

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A mated pair raised eaglets here for several years, closely observed by a worldwide online audience.

Until the eggs hatch, it seems to be shake, rattle and roll in the nests, but with live streaming video cameras, the nest secrets are secrets no more.