BioDiversity Research Institute announced Wednesday, April 20, the installation of the newest video webcam provided by NextEra Energy.

The video camera is set up to monitor the nest of a pair of bald eagles in Maine’s Midcoast region. The webcam is one of two cameras NextEra currently sponsors that captures the breeding activity of these raptors in real time.

Visitors to BRI’s website — briloon.org — can watch the daily activities of this eagle pair roosting, hatching eggs, and raising its young.

“We are excited to provide this latest webcam, which allows the public a close-up view into the life of these incredible birds,” said William Hanson, senior biologist for NextEra, in a press release.

“We are fortunate to have NextEra’s support, without which we would not be able to provide this important tool both for research and education,” said David Evers, Ph.D., executive director of BRI.

Breeding bald eagles lay eggs once annually, usually in early spring; the eggs, up to three in a clutch, hatch in about 35 days. The young eagles, called nestlings, learn to fly by 3 months of age, and can be on their own about a month later.

“Webcams are an important tool to help engage the general public in science and ecology,” said Chris DeSorbo, director of BRI’s raptor program.

“Once people get a glimpse into the daily life and challenges of an eagle nestling, they become more invested in ‘their eagles.’ For many, that’s the nudge that increases their awareness and concern for broader issues facing eagles and other wildlife — like contaminated fisheries and loss of habitat.”

Eagles build their nests (which may reach as wide as 10 feet across and weigh up to one-half ton) near the top of large trees, typically close to lakes and rivers. Eagle pairs defend their nests and surrounding area from other eagles.

The territory in which NextEra’s webcam monitor is located was established in 2001. Through aerial surveys conducted by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, biologists know that eagles nesting in this territory have hatched eight nestlings over the past decade.

The bald eagle is one of the most identifiable birds in North America; it became the United States’ national bird in 1782.

Over the last 230 years, a number of factors have threatened this bird, including pesticides, habitat degradation, and shootings; in 1940 the U.S. Congress passed the Bald Eagle Protection Act (which later expanded to include the Golden Eagle).

By 1963, the bald eagle was listed as an endangered species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Diligent efforts of wildlife biologists and state and federal wildlife management agencies have enabled these birds to recover; they were removed in 2007 from the federal endangered species list, and in 2009 from the Maine state list.

Installing video cameras to observe the eagles involves cooperation between wildlife biologists and state and federal wildlife agencies. NextEra’s eagle webcam program is made possible through partnerships with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and BioDiversity Research Institute.

BRI’s wildlife webcam program began in 2003 as a research tool to monitor the nests of the common loon which, at the time, was one of the primary bird species being studied at the Institute. Since then, BRI has installed additional webcams to monitor the nesting activities of eagles, ospreys, and falcons.The general public can join BRI’s online community through the Institute’s website at briloon.org.