Spring has no shortage of charms – budding leaves, warm breezes, baby animals. While the former pleasures can easily be enjoyed on a walk outside, the latter can be somewhat more elusive – especially for those of us who live in cities, or are interested in wild animals it is unwise to approach in nature.
Fortunately, there are ways to observe critters unobtrusively from home, namely via webcam live feeds. Dedicated sites such as HDonTap and Explore specialize in streaming high-quality live stream feeds of animals, and hobbyists are also known to independently share live videos of animals with audiences worldwide.
Not only are critter cams sweet, but they can help the public learn about different species, and studies show that watching nature videos reduces sadness and boredom, too. Here are some to get you started.
In the northern US and Canada, bald eagles lay their eggs between February and April, meaning this is an ideal time to spot fluffy gray eaglets hatching and hanging out under their parents’ watchful eyes. Environmental group Friends of Big Bear Valley in southern California currently has a camera focused on eagles named Jackie and Shadow, who have one egg in their nest right now. In Hanover, Pennsylvania, avian parents known to admirers as Freedom and Liberty are caring for an eaglet which hatched earlier this month, and have another egg in their nest.
Way over on the other end of the bird size spectrum is an Allen hummingbird, who is currently caring for two extremely little babies, each weighing approximately one third as much as a US dime. The family lives in a golf ball-sized nest made of plant down, spiderwebs, bark and lichen in a ficus tree on a private porch in La Verne, California. Watch them here.
March and April is lambing season, meaning it’s a great time to check out the many available streams for live births and footage of the new babies nuzzling, nibbling hay and getting used to the whole walking around thing. If sheep grazing in fields brings you serenity, check out Lambwatch, a feed of a rural farm on the Yorkshire and Lancashire border, where lambs stroll by at their leisure.
The Vancouver Aquarium’s otter cam has been a bright spot for many during the pandemic – on its very active Discord page, people from all over the world chat about the seven resident otters, who range in age from nine months to nine years. Because the Aquarium focuses on rescue and rehabilitation rather than breeding, you won’t regularly find new babies here – but frankly, all otters have cute baby energy. “On a very special occasion you might be able to catch the otters rafting together – holding paws,” says marine mammal trainer Rachel Nelson. “It’s a natural behaviour that otters do in the ocean to stay together while they are sleeping.”
What about wolves?
If it’s canines you’re after, the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, New York, has no less than eight separate wolf families, each with their own live cam to check out. Many of their wolf species are endangered due to habitat loss and predator control programs, so it’s always extra-special when pups are born. There’s no guarantee you’ll spot babies on the live stream, but the center has plenty of footage of them, nonetheless.
Energetic and mischievous baby goats always steal the show at petting zoos, but you don’t need to make a special trip to check out what the kids at Ontario’s Haute Goat farm are up to – their live feed is even on when the does are giving birth. Farmer Debbie Nightingale says 30 kids have been born so far this year, and plenty more are coming, with births expected 29 March, 21 April and 26 April, give or take two days on each due date.
Bunnies and guinea pigs
Easter is almost upon us – but rather than buy your kids a rabbit none of you are prepared for, take a gander at this critter cam of a seasonally decorated rabbit and guinea pig hutch at a private residence in Tustin, California. All five of the animals were rescued from high-kill shelters and now spend their time enjoying fresh veg (feeding times are at 7.30am and 5.30pm PDT) and hopping about. Don’t see anyone in the feed? Rabbits are most active between dusk and dawn, so check back then.