Some events are tailor-made for social media buzz. Like new car model introductions, landmark events or anything in the celebrity sphere. But if anyone had ever told me that a 24/7 webcam focused on nesting Redtail hawks would draw a crowd I might have questioningly cocked my head a bit sideways.
Yet that is exactly what the good folks at the Cornell Ornithology Lab in Ithaca, New York have done, and brother, it has drawn a crowd. I must admit I am one of their doting followers – along with between 3000-7000 other daily visitors from around the world.
Along with the comprehensive education I’ve gained while watch, I have also been extremely impressed with the Lab’s attention to social media.
The webpage has the video streaming (via livestream) above a chronological synopsis of events as they happen. Alongside the video, the viewer can make a choice to watch short video clips taken since the beginning of the project or s/he can read the ‘chat’ stream which is well attended by both expert moderators and rank novices like me. The free exchange of questions and answers is enlightening and entertaining.
There is a Twitter feed (@CornellHawks), and a Facebook page although they don’t seem to be focusing on the hawks on Facebook. Still you should check it out because they have quizzes and contests and well, they just know how to make Facebook work for them.
It takes the hawks 7 weeks to reach maturity so the webcam will be viewable for quite awhile. So hop (or fly) on over there. You’ll see how addictive the experience can become. And while you’re there drop a sheckle or two in their donation jar. This is education at its finest, both for all of us curious minded adults and the throngs of elementary and secondary school kids that have dropped by the site to laugh, learn and get grossed out (these are hawks, folks).
Oh, I forgot to tell you, Cornell also has a Great Blue Heron nest under its watchful web cam eye – there are two cameras on this nest. The last of the 5 chicks hatched this morning around 11:30.
Right now these little birds look like the drinking birds, and they are so much fun to watch. The feeding process is completely different than that of the hawks (duh). Like most babies, the chicks eat a lot and they grow fast. So each day is a completely new experience.
For folks like me there is much to learn about our winged friends and it seems COL is a fine place to start. Check out their YouTube channel or just go to their site. Not only will you learn about birds, you will learn about marketing done very well.