WASHINGTON - Cameras installed high in a tree in Iowa have made an internet sensation of a family of bald eagles, whose nest is streamed online live day and night.
"Why viral, I'm not really sure," Bob Anderson, director of the Raptor Resource Project, said of the success of the eagle webcam.
"The world just likes to hear something good instead of negative," he said. "This is all positive, this makes people feel good."
Anderson had been transmitting live images of the nest, 80 feet high in Decorah, Iowa, mainly for schools and universities.
But this year, using a new site, UStream, the eagles are challenging the likes of troubled actor Charlie Sheen for internet popularity. There have been 11 million online views, according to the project's website.
Some 150,000 viewers at a time check out the live action, captured by two cameras installed on branches five feet above the nest. (The UStream live feed can be seen below.)
The male and female eagles have been together since the winter of 2007-08, the project's website explained. They have successfully hatched and fledged eaglets each year since.
Interest spiked in late February when the mother laid three eggs, two of which have hatched. The third is expected to hatch any day now.
Most days viewers can see the wind pushing about the feathers of the eagles, as well as spot the remains of a muskrat, rabbit, crow and trout lying in the nest.
"Our dream always has been to provide an insight to wildlife, as a science tool for school," Anderson said. "It's a wonderful education tool, people are learning the good and the bad of nature."
"Now," he continued, "kids are learning that animals do eat other animals and that is the way of life. They are gaining a great insight to Mother Nature."