Lights, cameras, eagles! iluminar’s Skidaway owl cam

Bordering Skidaway narrows, a part of Georgia’s famous intercoastal waterway, Skidaway Island in Georgia is a state park near historic Savannah. A picturesque nature reserve, it attracts visitors throughout the year to see its wide variety of animals and migrating birds.

With the reserve widely known for its Bald Eagle’s nest, and with the pair expected to return for a third season, the Landings Club board of Governors sought a way to bring the nesting activity to a wider audience; by providing visual and audio surveillance of the birds during the hatching season.

The Mission
HDOnTap, a specialist provider of live webcam streaming services, hardware & customized off-grid power, wireless network and remote live cam solutions for wildlife viewing, were referred to the board by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

The founder of HDOnTap, Tim Sears, takes up the story: “The requirement was to install a live camera on the Bald Eagles’ nest, to give viewers a ‘Point-of-View’ in the nest and capture the activity of the eagles during the season. Along with a high-quality camera image, it was imperative that the birds could be viewed 24/7, so a nighttime illuminator would also be paramount to enable the nest images to be streamed around the world via the web.

The Solution
“White light illuminators were not a viable option as these would disturb the nesting birds, so this steered us towards choosing an infrared illuminator. HDOnTap have used iluminar LED IR lighting products exclusively on all our previous installations, and with a history of flawless operation, we were confident that the deployment of an iluminar product would more than meet our requirements.

“In our experience of using iluminar LED lighting products in harsh environments, we’ve found them to be high-performance, reliable and simple to install. With the proposed installation, high up in a pine tree, 75ft (23m) above the ground, ‘simple to install’ is a major benefit! Plus the reliability of the iluminar units was a major factor in their choice, as once they were commissioned and the birds inhabiting the nest, there would be zero opportunity for problem solving and maintenance. All the products we selected needed to work reliably straight out of the box – and we knew this would definitely be the case with iluminar products from our previous experience with them.”

Tim specified an X|Stream Designs X|Mod enclosure fitted with a 720p Sony WR600 PTZ camera, supported by an iluminar IR623 Series long range infrared LED iIluminator, and powered via a 12VDC accessory power port within the enclosure.

The iluminar IR623 Series can illuminate objects at distances up to 623ft (190m) using SMT LED technology, and features low-power consumption together with an IP67 weatherproof enclosure – perfect for deployment in the birds’ nest. Footage from the camera is now being streamed live on the Internet via HDOnTap’s live streaming webcam service.

The Result

After a swift installation, the nest was left for the anticipated arrival of the Bald Eagle pair. However, only one eagle arrived. The speculation was that the mate had been lost or had strayed. This was not the bad news it initially appeared to be though, as the vacant nest soon attracted a pair of Great Horned Owls who took it over.

“Opportunistic in using the nests of other birds, the owls exchanged prey, courted, and the female laid two eggs that have now hatched,” explained Tim. “The web stream has been a great success. At any given time, there are 2,500 – 3,000 simultaneous people watching the live streaming of the birds’ activities. We anticipate that traffic will grow closer to 10,000 as the young develop, and from our experience of live-streaming surveillance of other birds’ nests, we anticipate streaming close to 4,000,000 hours of footage before the chicks fledge from the nest.

“Thanks to the iluminar IR623 Series LED illuminator, we have the perfect set-up for delivering astonishingly clear nighttime images of the owls’ nest activity. This is a real advantage, as much of the owl activity takes place during the hours of darkness – when the most valuable footage can be gathered.

“So far we have seen the owls bring food to the nest and eggs hatch, a sight which few people ever experience, but thanks to the camera and iluminar IR light combination, anyone with an internet connection can tune-in and observe this sight. We will soon be seeing the fledgling chicks leave the nest, so the most exciting and scientifically significant footage is yet to come.”

Anyone wanting to check on the progress of the Great Horned Owl family can do so by visiting;
http://hdontap.com/index.php/video/stream/great-horned-owl-cam

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