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Bye, Bye, Birdie: A Tribute to the Past Bird Cam Season

By Rahkia Johnson

From our anticipated wait for the many eggs to hatch in May to our grown chicks finally taking their first flight in July, we can all agree that this has been a bittersweet year for our winged buds. It was often lighthearted and emotional for both CamOps and viewers alike. Although our favorite birds and their new members will leave us soon, we can always reminisce about the moments we had with them. With this post, I’ll try to fit in the important moments of this year’s raptors season!

There were a handful of CamOps who operated the raptors cam for the very first time this year. Some felt the  pressure during training but were ecstatic to hop on the cams for good once they got the hang of it. I have to mention the amazing raptors trainers! They spent a good two to three months training the new Ops on more than five different cams and I’d personally like to thank them for their patience and support! Operating the cams didn’t just consist of panning and zooming in on the birds, but it had a lot to do with paying attention to every movement and details. That’s where the note taking gets involved.

Yes, it was nerve-racking at times for the Ops and it might’ve felt like we were always reporting the same things repeatedly with those vast and intense words like “Preening” of “Aerating” but it was only to stay informed about every action with the parents. It’s kind of like when your mother used to jot down everything you used to do as a baby or a child for the memories, but this was a little more serious than that and I’m sure your mother didn’t mix up or sometimes forget your name a few times. Something new happened every day with the cams (Especially all three of the osprey cams and the eagle cams) So the notes would come in handy for the upcoming CamOp (I know they did for me…plenty of times).

Earlier, I talked about remembering the bird’s names and how important it was for note taking or important announcements. Let’s see if I can jog my memory. Feel free to let me know if I forget anybirdy. Rachel and Steve are the parents of Hog Island. Audrey and Tom are the parents of Chesapeake. Charlotte and Charlie are the parents of Charlo (I always wanted to say how clever I thought that was) Newman and Michelle reign GSB and Mr. & Mrs. North was in charge of Decorah Eagle Cam, which happened to be one of the most viewed cams on the site. I personally believe learning the bird’s name could spark a small bond. You remember their names, their every move, you can tell which one of the parents are vocalizing. We might as well join the family! We got really personal with the parents and the chicks along with our dedicated viewers. There were times where they might have known more information than I did, but I’d like to show gratitude! They watched every day, complemented the Ops for getting great shots, asked or announced good and bad news about our birds, and most importantly they chatted with other bird enthusiasts! The people of Explore and the Ops might’ve kept the cams going, but our high-spirited viewers are what kept the cams alive. I’m also aware of the few tragedies that happened this season and some of our viewers might not return because of that. It hurts to see them part ways with us, but we understand that a connection with an animal you love can be deep. I’ve found some of those moments tear-jerking and frightening, but sometimes we have to remember that it’s only human nature and we just have to hope and pray for better results next bird season.

Most of our birds have already gone away to their next journey and a lot of us first-timers weren’t really prepared. I watched the eggs hatch on Chesapeake, I saw the chicks follow Audrey around the small nest, but as soon as they were given their royal names (Harriet & Meghan) they flew out into the world! Like I said before, this is bittersweet. I had tons of fun with the cams even during their noisiest days (We’re looking at you, Audrey) This was an interesting bird season and I absolutely can not wait for next season to see the parents again!