A live video feed (below) of eagle eggs hatching in northeast Iowa has attracted more than 100,000 followers, causing the website to briefly crash for roughly two hours on Saturday after the first baby eagle emerged.
The camera, which is being sponsored by the Raptor Resource Project, shows a "nest 80 feet up in a tree overlooking a trout stream at the Decorah Fish Hatchery, where a pair of eagles is welcoming their brood".
Three eggs were laid in late February, and the first eaglet started to emerge from its shell Friday. Bob Anderson, the project's executive director, said the second hatched about 5:30 a.m. Sunday and the third is expected in about three days.
"The world loves it," said Anderson, who controls with the camera angle with a joystick from a nearby shed.
Viewers can watch the adult eagles feed the hatchlings and trade shifts sitting on the nest. Anderson recently took on two volunteers to help man the camera so he could get some sleep and respond to hundreds of e-mails from eagle fans around the world. He said he got more than 500 e-mails from Saturday night to Sunday morning.
The camera, which is about the size of a small grapefuit, is camouflaged with leaves, and is also equipped with an infrared light ideal for nighttime viewing, since the eagles are unable detect it.
People all over the world have been watching the nest from their homes at varying hours, just to see what's going on. One of those people, Sue Thomas of Great Britain, has been "checking in" on them (via the feed) first thing in the morning, even though the eagles are still sleeping at that time:
"We have it on all the time and sort of pop in and out and have a look-see what's going on," she said.
Thomas, who enjoys watching birds in her own back yard, said her favorite shots of the eagles are when the adults stand up, revealing the little ones below. She saw one of the adults feeding shreds of a what appeared to be a rabbit to the first chick.
"It's just lovely to see what the little baby eagles are doing," Thomas said. "It's amazing to see creation going on in such a happy way."
The pair of eagles have raised eight presumably adorable chicks since they built their nest four years ago.