Arctic snowy owls are as beautiful as they are elusive and difficult to observe in their natural environment. However, scientists recently installed a high-definition camera, whose purpose is to observe the lives of these rare birds. The device was put up at a nesting site in Alaska this week and it immediately went live. Now, both scientists and the general public has the unprecedented chance of watching six snowy owl chicks emerging from their nest. The rare sight has been observed by hundreds of onlookers, at a burrow situated close to Barrow, Alaska, off the shores of the Arctic Oceans.
According to Denver Holt, a specialized researcher from the Owl Research Institute, it’s impossible to watch these birds around the clock, even during a season which brings 24 hours of natural sunlight to that corner of the world. However, he explained in a statement made to the Associated Press, this camera “just opens up another avenue and more periods of time we’re able to look and record”. Holt is one of the many researchers involved in a massive, ongoing study of these owls, which has entered its 23rd year of existence in 2014. The research focuses on snowy owls and the main species that they prey on – the brown lemming. The study is taking place over a surface of 260 square kilometers (or 100 square miles) in the tundra region of northern Alaska.
This camera is the latest one in a series of similar offerings called “Pearls of the Planet”, provided by explore.org. The platform is a media outlet powered by the Annenberg Foundation. The website provides both researchers and the general public with live camera feeds of various species of wildlife from around the world. This Alaskan camera, which allows the world access to the daily lives of the snowy owls, follows another one that also went live the same week. This one is situated in the Katmai National Park and Preserve, in the southern part of Alaska, and focuses on the population of brown bears that live there.
The founder of explore.org and vice president of the Annenberg Foundation, Charles Annenberg Weingarten, explained in a statement that “these live cams are about more than providing an incredible view of bears or owls during an amazing part of their season. What we are doing is building out the zoos of the future, where animals run wild and people from everywhere can feel connected to the experience,” he said.