Children are endlessly fascinated by animals, but few grandparents can indulge their grandchildren with a safari to Africa to view the wildlife. Fortunately, the Internet has made watching animals easy with Webcams set up to broadcast from locations around the world. You can travel far afield with distant grandchildren by clicking on these Critter Cams and watching the animal antics together from your computers.
Webcam Viewing Tips
Some live cams are really snapshot stills that are refreshed every so often, whereas a live streaming video cam shows real-time movement. Apparently the logistics and cost of operating video cameras in the wild are difficult and expensive, so most cameras are on a live refresh system. In some cases, live audio is included.
Occasionally you’ll need to use the refresh button on your Web browser to get the most recent image. Black spaces sometimes are just taking a minute to load; at other times they are showing you night in another time zone.
Some sites stop transmission when animals are mating; others don’t. Some Webcams are seasonal and post highlights of previous activity. A few permit you to sign up for an e-mail alert when activity resumes.
Outdoor cams are best viewed during daylight hours. Allow for time zone differences (visit timeanddate.com to get the time in another zone). Morning is a good time to visit U.S. sites, while evening is best for Europe and Africa.
I found that most sites opened up with my AOL browser, but some didn’t. Internet Explorer 6 or 7 and Firefox generally work well. Some sites will prompt you to install updated software so you can view the images. Unfortunately, annoying ads may be part of the deal.
Be warned. Watching animals from around the world live on Webcams can prove addictive. It’s like a TV reality show, only the stars here are critters. Bookmark these sites, and you and your grandchildren can visit your favorites regularly.
During the summer salmon run, grizzlies congregate on the river to fish.
Where: McNeil River State Game Sanctuary, Homer, Alaska
Webcam: Live streaming video with sound. When not operating, highlights of the previous season are displayed.
Polar bears fast on land during the summer before returning to the sea ice in the fall to hunt seals.
Where: Churchill, Manitoba, Canada
Webcam: Still image, refreshes every 30 seconds; operates in October and November, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the complete loop replayed two times before the next day.
Acorn woodpeckers, Rufous hummingbirds, and Cecil the mourning dove frequent the feeder.
Where: Boulder Creek, Calif.
Webcam: Still image, refreshes every 10 minutes; operates dawn to dusk.
The eagle nest measures 6’ wide by 5’ deep. It sits in a cottonwood tree near a power plant.
Where: Platteville, Colo.
Webcam: Live streaming video; operates February through May.
Sea lions have external ear flaps; seals do not.
Where: Pier 39, San Francisco, Calif.
Webcam: Live streaming video. At night and when sea lions leave for mating, the image switches to best stills.
Snow Monkeys (Japanese macaque)
Snow monkeys love to soak in hot spring waters. The adults have red faces and bottoms.
Where: Jigokudani Monkey Park, near Nagano, Japan
Webcam: Still image; refreshes every 5 minutes.
Some nests of these long-necked white storks have been used continuously for hundreds of years.
Where: Bornheim, Germany
Webcam: Still image; two cameras, refresh every 5 minutes.
Badgers inherit their nest, known as a sett, from their parents, expanding the tunnel system as the clan grows.
Where: Devon, England
Webcam: Still image; operates around dusk, local time.
Visitors can hand-feed special crackers to 20 reticulated giraffe in this herd.
Where: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Webcam: Giraffes are out in warm weather during zoo hours. Image updates every minute.
The clear water of the 360,000-gallon hippoquarium allows clear viewing of the 11-feet long hippos.
Where: Toledo Zoo, Toledo, Ohio
Webcam: Two cameras, live streaming video.
Giant pandas are about the size of a stick of butter when they’re born.
Where: San Diego Zoo, San Diego, Calif.
Webcam: Live streaming video; 36 cameras, operate 24 hours, or view time-lapse video highlights of previous days.
This exhibit contains gentoo and macaroni penguins; the macaronis have yellow feathers on their heads.
Where: Tennessee Aquarium, Chattanooga, Tenn.
Webcam: Live streaming video.
Sea otters often rest in groups called “rafts” and sometimes hold paws to stay together.
Where: Vancouver Aquarium, Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Webcam: Live streaming video; operates 24 hours.
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