The bald eagle, America’s national bird, is an eagle as old as time, the only eagle unique to North America and one full of tradition and symbolism.
A pair of bald eagles in southwest Florida, however, are putting a 21st century spin on their unique breed by becoming Internet stars.
“Ozzie” and “Harriet,” as the two eagles are affectionately known, are the stars of their own veritable reality show, the subjects of a live eagle cam tracking their every move.
The eagles have been perched high atop a tree on the 160-acre Fort Myers, Fla., property of the Pritchett family since 2006. The eagles position about 60-feet up in the tree has been the subject of fascination among wildlife photographers and passersby for years. Their 6-foot-wide nest is visible from a nearby major road.
Earlier this year, a family friend – the same photographer who named the birds – approached the Pritchetts with the idea to position a camera next to the eagles and live stream it online.
In August, the Pritchetts made it happen. The family – dad, Dick, a local real estate agent, mom, Lynn, and children, Andrew, Ricky, Christi and Ginnie – strapped a small camera to the slash pine tree, making sure not to use nails or screws to preserve the tree.
“We really wanted to preserve the tree as it is for the eagles and positioned the camera in a way that it doesn’t disturb the eagles or their nesting habits,” Andrew Pritchett, 24, told ABCNews.com.
For the first two months the camera was live, the birds’ UStream channel got about 1,000 views. Then, as Internet videos will do, the eagle cam went viral.
“It was organic growth,” Pritchett said. “We didn’t really push it that much. It’s just exponentially grown as more people have found out and UStream has a tremendous animal following, so I think that was another reason why.”
The channel now has nearly 2 million views and growing. The birds’ popularity has also earned them their own Facebook page, too, which has nearly 10,000 “likes.”
“Everybody has their own reason why they love the eagles so much,” Pritchett said. “I think the reason everyone is so fascinated with the nest is because it’s such a powerful bird and it’s our nation’s symbol. People are able to see this powerful bird from so close, from their computer.”
To watch the live stream, click HERE.