Friday, May 23, 2008

Babies of the non-human variety

Those of you who know me or frequented my old webpage know that I have a thing for webcams. Not the creepy personal kind, but the cool ones that look at cities and other neat places...like European town squares, midnight sunsets in Scandinavia, and even the canal in my hometown of NT. This time of year my webcam watching takes a different turn, because it's baby bird season. There's a ton of cameras out there that look at nests around the world, and it's neat to watch them. Here are the best of the best lately:

http://rfalconcam.com/rfc-main/mainView.php - This is the famous Kodak Falconcam, right here in Rochester at the top of the Kodak tower downtown. The peregrine falcons have been there for years now, and the five babies are about two weeks old.

http://www.birdcam.it/cam.php?camid=8&subpage=cam06.php - This site has lots of cameras in Italy, but this one is the best right now. I'm not sure, but this is most likely a peregrine falcon nest, too. There's live streaming video, and it's really zoomed in on the nest. I think there are five babies here as well, about a week old.

http://www.pfalzstorch.de/bilder/webcambild_sportplatz_bornheim1.htm - This is a white stork camera. There are two other cameras at this site, but this one has the most activity right now...four rapidly growing storks that are probably about a month or two old.

http://www.storchennest.de/en/index_427.html - This is another stork cam, and this one has live video. There's four babies in this nest right now, about a few weeks old.

http://lancaster.unl.edu/4h/Embryology/eggcamera.shtml - This camera changes views periodically, from hatching eggs to maturing chicks. There might be turkeys, chickens, ducks, or other types of birds, depending on the day.

Anyway...the point to all of this is not only that baby birds are really neat to watch, but it takes on a totally different feel this year when I'm getting ready to have a baby of my own. You wouldn't think there would be much to compare, but in some weird way, there is. For one, there's the anticipation...first of the eggs being laid, then of them hatching. The good news is, the whole process is a lot more predictable and a lot shorter with birds than it is with humans. Second, watching the birds grow up is really amazing. Again, birds mature a lot faster than humans, but it's neat to watch them grow and change. Even watching the parents is interesting. When eggs are laid, the parents do everything they can to protect their nest and incubate the eggs. Once the eggs hatch, it's neat to watch them alternate between keeping the new babies warm and tearing apart prey to feed their new brood numerous times a day. The live video cams really make you appreciate it, since you can see how the baby birds are simultaneously awkward and yet increasingly in control of themselves. It's so cute to watch them get fed and do that neck-craning thing that baby birds do. They flap their wings to practice flying, climb over each other in the nest, pop their heads up and look around...it's fun to watch. It seems a lot like what it's like to watch your own baby. They grow so quick, and even in their helpless state early on, they're already learning and observing and getting used to their body and the world around them. I know human babies are a heck of a lot more impressive, but the birds provide a cool little example in the meantime, until we have our baby here to keep us amazed. Anyway, I just thought it was cool...and for best results, check out the links above in the afternoon, because a couple of them are in Europe and it'll be dark there long before it is here. Enjoy...

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