Wildlife camera, video project milestones

2014 River Cam

Yes, the Gladys Black River Cam below the dam at Lake Red Rock, along the Des Moines River, is off-air. It has been an ongoing struggle to receive a consistent amount of bandwidth for continued watching opportunities of the camera. The Red Rock Lake Association has explored every option to make this a viable wildlife-watching opportunity, but has made a difficult decision and have disconnected the camera. We appreciate all of the viewers who were patient and checked on us from time to time to hopefully get a view of our river's flying visitors and seasonal changes.

Why the struggle with internet connection? Distance is the key. A DSL internet connection works the best when the consumer is no more than 3 to 3.5 miles from the telephone central switch. The further the consumer, in this case the camera, is from the switch the slower the download and upload speeds. This holds true for both the river cam below the dam and the first camera placed above an eagle’s nest… these locations are just too far away for reliable, live streaming video. These camera locations are too remote for DSL and other currently available cost-effective technologies.

2013 River Cam

Wild animals will be wild animals and at their nest site, cannot be guaranteed “stars” for live streaming video. The Gladys Black Environmental Education (GBE) committee knows this; Raptor Resource Project now knows this, too. The GBE committee recently installed a camera below the Red Rock Lake dam with the intent to bring the audience closer and let them experience the river. This area is full of ecological diversity and richness... this diversity is dependent on the amount of open water. At any given time, viewers may be lucky enough to see pelicans, osprey, eagles, waterfowl, and more.

We could not have gotten the camera on-line without the help of many groups and individuals. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - Lake Red Rock helped get electricity to the South Tailwater area, including preparing the site for the camera, and will continue to cover electrical costs. The Red Rock Lake Association purchased the camera and equipment and Tony, the 6ft Geek, built the camera and continues to provide technical assistance.  Windstream Communication is providing internet service at no cost. 

The plan is to have live streaming video 365 days (once technical glitches are worked out, of course)… there are actually three cameras (one pointed to the dam, one to the river, and one downstream towards Horns Ferry  Bridge), but we only see one view at a time. Each camera also digital zoom, but there is no IR (infra-red) camera to provide night video. As funds are raised, camera upgrades will be made. Tony's plan is to log into the camera a few times a day, as his schedule allows, and can switch the camera view at that time if there is something better to see. 

Gladys Black Nest Cam - Year One - 2012

It has been an eventful year at the Gladys Black Eagle Nest / Goose Nest camera!

First -- the adults from the 2011 nest built a new nest near (but not very close) to the nest tree where the camera was installed. An additional camera was added and the view was pointed to the new nest through a spotting scope. It wasn't the best image, a bit wobbly and the wind and heat waves impacted the quality. It was better than not knowing... Thankfully, we had folks that lived nearby that updated us all with visual reports and photos.

**5/6/12 Update -- Faithful nest watchers have reported seeing two eaglets in the nest. 
**5/15/12 Update -- Eaglet standing on edge of nest, adults circling overhead.

Then -- on May 11 while doing maintenance on the computer that is "on site" for the cameras, a goose was seen in the 'original' nest and the camera feed was switched back to the camera over that nest. Silly humans thought the goose had just started to sit / incubate the six eggs.

**5/17/12 Update -- Mama goose and four goslings left the "original" eagle nest.

So -- after the goose landing, the camera was again pointed to the eagle nest.

eaglet branching near nest

**6/5/12 Morning Update -- Nest watcher noted that we have a 'brancher' that has climbed above the nest. Branchers are young birds that are testing their wings, but are not ready to fledge or leave the nest.

A difficult decision -- the Gladys Black Eagle committee decided to turn the cameras off for the season on June 30. Many factors went into this decision, particularly that the eaglet will be flying by then and although the adults and juvenile will return to the nest off and on for much of the summer it is difficult to see who is in the nest and the internet connection is not as reliable as we hoped and often needs major attention by our technology volunteer. Turning off the camera will allow the committee to focus on the video project and have time for brainstorming for the best use of the camera and limited funds in the 2012-13 school year.

Recap -- was this nesting season in the view of these cameras a success? If you define success as goslings safely jumping to the ground and following mom and dad goose to the water, then yes.  If you define success as an eaglet fledging from the nest, then yes. While the adult eagles were seen feeding two nestlings and only one survived to fledge, in nature that is success. If you define success as having more folks being keen observers of their natural surroundings, we believe that Gladys would define that as success.

Finally -- thank you for your commitment to this project. Please drop in when you can to check on our progress. Thoughts, comments, questions can be emailed to us as well!

2012 eagle-turned-goose nest!

A goose nest was discovered on Friday May 11, 2012 in the original eagle nest when our tech guru was on-site updating the camera's computer. We all thought it was a recent development. Unknown to us, the eggs would soon hatch!

The nest had six eggs. Four of the six eggs hatched on May 15. At approximately 4:40 pm on May 17, 2012, the goose left the nest... followed shortly by all four goslings.

Staff on the ground shortly after reported that all four goslings were hunkered and walking low with parents toward the water. Two other goose families with five goslings each were waiting at waters edge!  At approximately 5:20 pm, the goose family made it to the nearby creek.

Learn more about Canada geese:

Below is a photo of the tree with the eagle nest turned goose nest and two photos of the new family ambling their way to water taken shortly after the goslings left the nest!



The photos below were captured from the Ustream feed May 16 of the mama goose and her goslings!

Bald Eagle Nest Camera

This project started as a joint project between the Red Rock Lake Association and Central College. The Gladys Black Eagle Cam was to provide information relating to the eagle’s family structure by showing daily life activity: nest building, courtship, egg laying, chick development, and fledging of the young. 

With the grand amount of wintering bald eagles in Iowa, nests becoming more visible to the public, and the joy of watching eagles via a nest camera, the hope is that the eagles will be a catalyst, urging you to explore in your own backyard, discovering the diversity that is Iowa.

REAP logoEducational Video Production

A Resource Enhancement and Protection - Conservation Education Program grant was received for calendar year 2012. These funds helped produce educational videos to support the web cam experience.

We not only wanted to educate our viewers about nature’s life cycle through the web cam, but also wanted to provide everyone an opportunity to learn about the eagle’s (and our) environment and the conservation of natural resources through short video segments. The committee designed and produced a series of short videos to inform and educate about the magical world of science, biology, and technology. The intent is to inspire students and adults to engage in learning about and in the natural environment and to create a life-long attachment to the natural world.


  • Mike Montgomery, West Elementary School Principal
  • Jill Van Woerkem, Knoxville School District Curriculum Director
  • Curt Schwanebeck, videographer
  • Baker Electric, electrical supplies

The chosen nest in 2011 with an eagle family!

Get a bird's eye view of the camera and nest. We could not have done this without Musco Lighting. 

Thanks to all our sponsors for their help!

"Original" Eagle Nest Cam Work
Electrical Work (MidAmerican Energy and Gary Hanson) Completed September 17, 2011
Internet connection (Windstream) Completed September 19, 2011

Camera Installation (Musco Lighting – crane trucks; DSI and Mahaska Communication Group – staff time to mount camera and equipment)

Completed October 18, 2011

committee members and volunteers stop work for a group photo
Committee members and project volunteers take a break for a group photo.

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