Fred Alsop, an East Tennessee State University biology professor and director of the EagleCam project, said the public utility’s fiber optics have helped improve the university’s live camera feed of the two adult bald eagles and their nestlings.
“We have more than one million hits worldwide,” he said of the EagleCams at etsu.edu/cas/biology/eagle-cam/cameras.php.
Alsop told BrightRidge board members on Tuesday that Shima and Noshi are parents of two eaglets from eggs laid in February. He said the video of the bald eagle family at Winged Deer Park is made possible by technical support and solar technology powered by BrightRidge.
He told BrightRidge directors, who watched the live EagleCam on a monitor during their monthly meeting, that ETSU’s bald eagle camera feeds at Winged Deer Park and Bluff City have “become a real reality show.” Alsop noted that the nest at Winged Deer park is located 80 feet high in a tree and there is “nothing we can do to interfere with what happens there.”
He said ETSU officials know when people are clicking on the eagle cameras and how long they are watching. Alsop said analytics show the average viewer spends about 19 minutes on the EagleCam site.
“I’ve told (ETSU) President Brian Noland that the eagle cameras are bigger than football at ETSU, and they don’t cost nearly as much,” Alsop said.
The $25,000 annual budget for the eagle cameras are covered by sponsors like BrightRidge’s broadband division, the Tennessee Valley Authority, Mahoney’s Outfitters and Bank of Tennessee. Alsop said BrightRidge CEO Jeff Dykes has committed the utility’s crews to help maintain the camera feeds during the non-hatching season.
“BrightRidge has done a lot to help us get to this point,” he told BrightRidge board members.
He said ETSU researchers and internet viewers will be watching until the eaglets grow large enough to leave the nest. That should happen in late June or early July. Alsop said the young bald eagles might decide to stay within a few miles of the area, or they could fly a hundreds of miles away.
Meanwhile, their parents — who mate for life — will likely be back at the Winged Deer Park nest for the next hatching season.