I grew up in Southern Connecticut and my mom always had a bird feeder filled to the brim with seed on cold winter days. We would always get excited when the colorful birds, like red cardinals and blue Blue Jays, would swoop in.
My childhood experience made me appreciate wildlife though it didn’t turn me into a birder. I do know bird watching is big business for the travel industry and the older I get, the more I understand the attraction. But it’s still mind-boggling that people travel all around the world to spot birds. I really never understood it until I was on a tour in Costa Rica. A guide set up his telescope and said, “Look at this beauty!”
The ‘beauty’ was a toucan and it truly was surreal watching this colorful creation look around. Unfortunately, I don’t have the patience of most birders because as much as I love seeing them, after a few minutes I’m ready to move on.
But when I couldn’t (or chose not to) travel during the pandemic, I discovered some incredible bird cams on YouTube (embedded below) to get my travel fill. There are a variety of live videos from around the world and I find them extremely relaxing and entertaining. My kids love to check them out, too.
Here are some of my favorites:
1. The Panama Fruit Feeder Cam
This is a collaboration between the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the Canopy Family and explore.org.
2. Live Animal Cam from South Africa
This bird feeding station is located in a suburban garden backyard in Pretoria, South Africa. Apart from Pretoria being at 4,600 feet above sea level, the bird feeder is situated between the trees about 20 feet above ground level.
3. Ohio Bird Feeder Backyard Camera
A birder named Scott lives in northeast Ohio in a residential neighborhood near the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and has a live bird cam set up in his backyard, which “provides a great opportunity to observe wildlife up close and to learn common bird species of the eastern United States.”
4. Alligator and Spoonbill Swamp Cam
St. Augustine’s Alligator Farm Zoological Park has roseate spoonbills and other wading birds roost and raise their young.
5. Live Boreal Birds at the Ontario
The FeederWatch cam is located in a residential neighborhood in Manitouwadge, Ontario. This northern site is an excellent location to see winter finches like redpolls and grosbeaks as well as two species of Jays and even Ruffed Grouse!
6. Video of Keel-Billed Toucans
I prefer the live cameras but this video from Cornell Labs is a must-see. The four-minute video shows Keel-billed toucans flying in for some bananas. According to the channel, “they’re also known as the Rainbow-billed toucan, they are often seen in flocks of 6 to 12 individuals. These highly social birds share cramped living quarters and are seldom seen alone.”
7. Squirrel Maze
And if you’re like me and always try to figure out ways to keep squirrels from eating most of the feed, then you will want to see this video, which shows there’s really no such thing as “squirrel-proof” birdfeeders.