Because I live in an apartment in the city, there's zero chance I'll ever look out my window and watch a bird build a nest or tiny eggs hatch inside. My backyard is a concrete wall. But I can watch nests all over North America through nest cams.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a great place to start. They've got feeds from cameras set up to watch nests of two types of owls, an eastern bluebird, a peregrine falcon, a wood duck, a great crested flycatcher and two eastern phoebes. There's also archived footage from past seasons documenting dozens of nesting attempts made by 17 different species. And camera watchers can help out through CamClickr by sorting and tagging some of the eight million archived images.
Ustream.tv hosts several nest cams, including an Allen's hummingbird, a barn owl and red-tailed hawk nest at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.
The Institute for Wildlife Studies has cameras trained on three bald eagle nests on the California coast (and if your computer and connection can handle it, you can watch all three at once).
The Raptor Resource Project's Nest Viewer keeps eyes trained on more than a dozen falcons, osprey, falcons and eagles.
There are links to eagle cams across the United States and Canada at the Eagle Nest Cam site.
And the Hancock Wildlife Foundation not only has its own eagle cams but also includes instructions for how to set up a nest cam of your own.
Finally, if you're looking for more exotic birds, the National Zoo's animal web cams include cameras trained on the flamingos and a kiwi (newly hatched on March 30).
( This post was included in Scientia Pro Publica 30, where you’ll find more great science writing.)