Wild Animals — Up Close and Personal

Any glimpse into the life of an animal quickens our own and makes it so much the larger and better in every way.   –John Muir

Read Animals Are People, Too on This Green Life
Read Animals Are People, Too on This Green Life.

Unless you live off the grid, you probably don’t have much opportunity to observe wildlife beyond the common birds and small animals that frequent backyards. This isn’t natural, but it’s the modern way of life. Luckily, another aspect of modern life — the Internet — provides alternative ways to go where the wild things are for those who can’t go in person. Here are a few that I know of. Please share yours!

Tracking Projects

Osprey’s Journey — a project I’m personally involved with — follows a young male Osprey called C2 from NYC to Venezuela and back. The unique thing about it is that it tells the story of his life and struggles.

Project Osprey Trax – a satellite tracking project that follows several Ospreys in New Hampshire, some related to each other.

Live Webcams

Explore.org has about 50 live webcams on a wide variety of animals, including ospreys, bears, beluga whales, honeybees and chipmunks to name just a few.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology has numerous bird cams accompanied by informative and interesting posts by the bird experts at Cornell.

Africam has live cams at several African sites where you can view elephants, black rhinos and other African animals. Visit Africam right now to see live cheetah cubs!

WildEarthTV has live cams in Africa, the U.S. and underwater.


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30 Responses to Wild Animals — Up Close and Personal

  1. Murray Bolesta July 29, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

    I live in Arizona which is one of those few states, like Alastka, still have wide expanses of natural habitat. So there’s a constant parade of wildlife, including larger mammals like javelin and bobcats. As an art ‘n’ heritage photographer, this setting has provided me with some of my most compelling images. I simply have to be ready with my camera when my kitty-cat makes some strange noises while peering through the window. A side comment: I believe humans are apart from nature, not of it.

    • Sheryl July 30, 2014 at 8:56 am #

      Lucky you to have the chance to view the parade. Your photography is wonderful. Regarding your side comment — I believe humans are apart from nature *and* of it.

  2. Matt July 29, 2014 at 4:04 pm #

    We have all evolved from the same stock. It is little wonder we share this affinity for other life forms, particularly vertebrate life forms, from which we dwell much closer in our genetic tree of life. Evolutionary theory is the bedrock foundation of 21st century biology, from genetics through botany and all geographical biodiversity. Thank you.

    • Sheryl July 30, 2014 at 9:03 am #

      Matt, have you read any E. O. Wilson? He has a term for this affinity — biophilia.

  3. Tony July 29, 2014 at 4:14 pm #

    The U.S. Supreme Court was wrong — corporations are not people, and never were people.

    Sheryl Eisenberg is similarly wrong — animals are not people, and never were people. This applies to all animals — those in the wild, those on the farm, and pets in our homes.

    Do not “over sell” the case for Green, all it means, and all it will do for people and animals (and corporations as well!). If you do, you will alienate those whose support you need most.


    • Beverly Simone July 29, 2014 at 5:45 pm #

      I don’t think the article implies that animals are people, although we share more than some would like to admit. Ms. Eisenberg was speaking of “individuality”, amongst them, that’s all.

      • Sheryl July 30, 2014 at 9:10 am #

        Thanks Beverly, that’s exactly what I was getting at. “Animals are people” was just a metaphor.

  4. Beverly Simone July 29, 2014 at 4:16 pm #

    I have a pet Cockatoo, and although she is quite the individual, she is not why I’m commenting.
    Each morning, I toss her uneaten peanuts, etc., out the front door for the Blue Jays and squirrels.
    One day, I noticed a male Cardinal, looking at me through the kitchen window. As I tossed the peanuts out, he swooped down to get one before the Jays gobbled them up. The next morning, I wasn’t “on time” with the treats, and I heard the cardinal singing. He was at the front door, on a
    vine pole, awaiting the peanuts. Each day since, morning and evening, he sings at the door, and I give him peanuts. “Pretty Boy” and his mate have had two offspring, and I have seen him feeding them both peanuts. I think he’s quite an individual, and a good dad, too!

    • Sheryl July 30, 2014 at 9:13 am #

      I got chills reading this story.

  5. suzanne obrien July 29, 2014 at 4:17 pm #

    Cesar Milan likes to say of dogs that we first must accept they are dogs as a species, then they are their breed and lastly, they are who they are as individuals. Each animal is uniquely their own, with their own ways and thoughts, as well as their nature and breeding. Elsa the lion was a gentle soul that bonded very specially to her humans. Not every lion would bond in that manner but she did. Whomever we are, we should all be empowered to bring our best selves to the day, to our life. When we do, we bring the unique ‘me’ to it that not any other creature can in exactly that same way. CAFOs tear me right up. FOOD INC was enlightening. We do like to label things, don’t we and yet, the whales and Dolphins and Elephants are much superior to us. We are still around by grace. I hope for peace for all and soon. Every life is here to be honored. And for those that end up on a plate, there are humane ways of ending a life. We must mittigate greed, reduce consumption and open up to the wild and wonderful amazing creatures we share this planet with. Cows too can be full of personality and chickens, which I have always been told are dumb, are not! They too have their own personalities and I raised them for eggs in our back yard and loved every minute of learning about them…as individuals!

    • Sheryl July 30, 2014 at 9:47 am #

      Suzanne, thanks for bringing up the factory farm issue, which is a massive denial of animal individuality and unjustifiably cruel way to treat sensate creatures. Tears me up too.

  6. Kristin Barber July 29, 2014 at 4:23 pm #

    I live in New Haven, CT, and it all started with feeding the birds. I also initially had a lot of berry and fruit trees, so I assume that also draws in the animals. I watch basically from my kitchen window. Recently, the groundhog I started feeding last year, had 2 kits. She has since left them to dig another burrow. Now I feed the kits, and of course they forage on their own. To date, I have seen rabbits, squirrels, many birds, skunk, raccoon, wild turkey, and one deer. I also now have Kiki in the house. A feral cat, who really is still feral, but has been trapped an neutered. I call her my indoor feral cat, as it will probably take years, if ever to domestic her. My close observations of these various creatures has brought me closer to the struggles they face, and their interactions with each other and the environment.

    • Sheryl July 30, 2014 at 9:56 am #

      Love your last line. It does take close observation.

  7. Sigrid Benson July 29, 2014 at 5:26 pm #

    I watch the morning’s first comers to my small feeding station in the back yard and watch behaviors, sequences, & rude awakenings of just-left-the-nest teenagers. To my surprise the mourning doves are respected by the other feeders—even bluejays give way when a dove SNAPS! his wing at it. But everyone avoids the SQ with the black borders on its tail.

    Each one is so different.

    (Don’t much like the osprey duded up, though.)

    Sigrid, Gulf Breeze, FL

    • Sheryl July 30, 2014 at 10:13 am #

      I can see why the Osprey image might be too tongue-in-cheek for some, but I felt it was a fun way of making the point in my piece. Thanks for your comment. It was very interesting to hear about the mourning doves.

  8. Susan Duhig July 29, 2014 at 6:06 pm #

    My favorite live cam of the summer is at the Phoenix Zoo’s black-footed ferret live breeding center http://phoenixzoo.org/animals/ferret-cam/

    • Sheryl July 30, 2014 at 10:14 am #

      Thanks for sharing that. I’ll have to check it out.

  9. Tony July 29, 2014 at 9:57 pm #

    Sheryl Eisenberg’s article, sent to me by the NRDC, is titled “Animals Are People, Too”. The message isn’t implied; it is quite explicit, and incorrect as well.


    • sunny July 30, 2014 at 7:47 am #

      Tony, mine says “wild animals ,up close and personal” I hope you someday find the truth, that we are all one. All made of the same stuff no matter what form. Once you feel that connection you will find more peace than you ever thought possible.

    • Sheryl July 30, 2014 at 10:28 am #

      Have no fear, it was just a metaphor. My real point is that animals have individual lives, the way people do. Each must makes its way in the world, cope with chance circumstances, meet challenges, try to prevail and ultimately die.

  10. sunny July 29, 2014 at 11:03 pm #

    I live in a very rural area and am blessed with all kinds of birds and animals. I have to say my most unustal encounter was a couple years ago. I was talking with some people at the end of my yard and they had said they saw a Coyote that looked sick. Well he stepped into the driveway. And as soon as I saw him I started talking to him and walking toward him. He was maybe 100 feet away and as I walked toward him telling him I was sorry if he was sick, he sat down. Writing this brings tears to my eyes as I felt a deep connection. The persons there were concerned and warned me not to get to close in case he had rabies so I did stop about 60 feet from him. We communicated for a few seconds longer then he took off into the field.

    • Sheryl July 30, 2014 at 10:20 am #

      I have had a couple of unusual encounters like that too, though not with anything like a coyote. One was many years ago in an Audubon wildlife sanctuary — in Cape Cod I think. A bird followed me on my walk for about 20 minutes, stopping when I stopped, resuming when I resumed, like a friendly companion.

  11. Juliana Dills July 30, 2014 at 12:27 am #

    I am blessed to live on a beautiful farm in Indiana. Bluebirds nest on our farm and this year I have been rooting for them. Their first attempt was thwarted by a pair of house sparrows whose babies fledged just after the baby bluebirds hatched. Mother and father house sparrow were raring to go again and since their nest box was full and there were no vacant ones nearby, they violently attacked the baby bluebirds and tossed them out of the nest. Mama and papa bluebird fought to save their brood leaving pulled out blue feathers on the ground. But they were no match for the tougher aggressive house sparrows and the baby bluebirds were strewn all over the ground dead or dying. I was heart broken. I lifted one baby who was still pink with life and placed it gently in the nest. All that evening papa bluebird came back to the nest box , peered in a few moments, and then flew off as if to rejoin his mate where she had retreated. I could just feel their grief at the loss of their family. Eventually he stopped returning and I knew they were gone. Violently angry with the house sparrows, I vowed to prevent their success in using the nesting boxes on the farm and began a campaign of removing their nesting matetial each day as they filled the boxes. I also added several more nesting boxes to the field in hopes that more opportunities would coax the bluebirds back. Well so far so good. The house sparrows must be settled somewhere else since they’ve stopped stuffing the boxes to the roof every day. And the bluebirds are back! I keep my fingers crossed, say little prayers for them and check that they are still coming and going from the box each day. I don’t know what the bluebirds are thinking and feeling as they go through the struggles of trying to raise young each year. But watching them, seeing their ups and downs, hearing their plaintive warble as they sit on the telephone wires near the nest site, crying for them when they are overpowered by the neighboring house sparrows, and then rejoicing for them when they have new babies to care for makes me appreciate them as a unique species to be cherished and respected. I want them around whether or not “they are people too”. It doesn’t matter. They are beautiful and wondrous just as they are.

  12. Sheryl July 30, 2014 at 11:01 am #

    That must have been painful to witness. I wish you luck with your new bluebirds (and the sparrows luck elsewhere).

  13. Nancy Schimmel July 30, 2014 at 11:36 am #

    Here’s a book I like a lot–a bird and his species:

    Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95, by Phillip Hoose

    “B95 can feel it: a stirring in his bones and feathers. It’s time. Today is the day he will once again cast himself into the air, spiral upward into the clouds, and bank into the wind.
    He wears a black band on his lower right leg and an orange flag on his upper left, bearing the laser inscription B95. Scientists call him the Moonbird because, in the course of his astoundingly long lifetime, this gritty, four-ounce marathoner has flown the distance to the moon—and halfway back!”

    • Sheryl July 31, 2014 at 11:11 am #

      Thanks for sharing that Nancy. Sounds wonderful.

  14. Schwarzkopf Jean July 30, 2014 at 5:55 pm #

    Our dualistic mind has a hard time considering that it is all connected……Spirit moves through all of
    us and an AWAKE human being knows the animal spirit and it knows us…….Native Americans have been working with such ideas from the beginning, where are we? Animals can develop an
    individual personality which is held in tack with our ability to really SEE them and think of them in a particular way. We project onto the animal an image we have established in our thinking, so that is precisely what we meet when addressing the animal as it is when we see our mates or friends etc.
    We simply meet the image we have projected upon them and don’t truly SEE them.
    Try being totally present for one day and meet each being anew.

    • Sheryl July 31, 2014 at 2:53 pm #

      As we of the Ram Dass generation used to say (or in my case, still do say), be here now.

  15. Diane R August 3, 2014 at 10:45 pm #

    Hi Sheryl, thanks for the blog post and email, I am a big osprey fan as well and a supporter of C2 and Dr. Kennedy. Wonderful that C2 and mate fledged 2 chicks this year. Also a very big fan of the Explore osprey cam at Hog Island, ME. Three seasons watching and 2 weeks ago I went in person to Audubon’s first Raptor Rapture program at Hog Island to meet the ospreys I’d been watching on the cam and also several fellow cam watchers. A wonderful experience!! At home here in northern California, on my 3rd floor apartment balcony I get white crowned sparrows, house finches, mourning doves, brewer’s blackbirds, towhees, and the occasional jay. Lots of ospreys a few miles up the road in Vallejo CA and fabulous raptors of all kinds in migration season over at Hawk Hill, where I’ll be an apprentice hawk watcher this year. You’ve mentioned the great Cornell cams! This season I watched the hawks some but really loved the albatross! We also have a live condor cam down at Big Sur that is fantastic. Among my favorite books are David Gessner’s Return of the Osprey and Soaring with Fidel, and Scott Weidensaul’s Living on the Wind. Nothing is as good as face to face, but cams do a great job of fostering connection and care for wild creatures.

    • Sheryl August 6, 2014 at 10:28 am #

      Hi Diane. Good to hear from you! How exciting to go to Hog Island (a dream of mine) and to become an apprentice hawk watcher. Since you mention books, I wonder if you’ve read “The Song of the White Pelican,” an essay by Jack Turner on pelicans, obviously, but also on intimacy with wildlife. I found it very moving. Thanks so much for your support of the Osprey project. All the best, Sheryl