Falconer Bob Anderson of Decorah said he has been "blown away" by the amount of interest the public has taken in his "eagle cam."

"It's been the biggest surprise. Everyone has adopted it as their nest," said Anderson.

Anderson is director of the Raptor Resource Project, a non-profit organization established in 1988 to promote the preservation of falcons, eagles, ospreys, hawks and owls. He has worked with peregrine falcon recovery for more than 30 years.

Eagle cam

Last summer, a camera was installed in a tree near the Decorah Fish Hatchery, which sits on land owned by Willard and Mary Ellen Holthaus, for filming of the PBS documentary "American Eagle."

"About four months ago, I was talking with my web master, and I said, 'Let's leave the camera up and put it on the Internet. If there's no interest, we'll take it down,'" said Anderson.

But people were interested. So interested, in fact, that Anderson's Internet DSL service has been scrambling to keep up with the high viewing demand.

"It's set up so 250 computers can be logged in to the site at a time, but we hit that first thing in the morning. Apparently, there are some people who turn it on and just leave it on," he said.

"I can't believe people from 72 different countries are watching."

(Visit www.raptorresource.org/falcon_cams/index.html)

About the eagles

Anderson said he feels the success of the eagle's rearing of her three eaglets has to do with both the great weather this spring and their proximity to a plentiful food supply.

"The weather has been ideal and they have a good source of food. But despite what many think, they are not feeding on live trout from the hatchery. They're feeding on the dead fish that are flushed out into the holding pond from the hatchery. These trout die in the raceways and are flushed out daily. The male eagle has learned when this takes place, so he is able to harvest freshly killed trout from the night before," said Anderson.

"They also feed on suckers and fox squirrels."

The catch

Anderson said while he's thrilled with the response to his eagle cam, his high-speed Internet access is having trouble keeping up with the usage.

As a result, the live streaming of the eagles and their young has stopped, but people can still view the site to see a live image which is updated every 20 seconds.

"Another option is for people to view the 'daily pics' section. It's an image which is taken every two minutes and archived. The quality is very good," he said.

What's next?

Anderson said he hopes a trouble -hooting session with his web master will allow him to "tweak" the site, and return it to live video streaming for the public.

"Right now, I'm researching what it's going to take to improve the site," said Anderson, who pays all of the expenses associated with the site.

"I have 10 or 12 other cameras, and no one talks about any of the other ones. This is also my only project that doesn't have a sponsor," he said.

"I'd like to keep improving it. And I think with the interest I've seen from area schools, it would really make a great science curriculum project," he said.

How to help

Anyone interested in donating to the eagle cam effort can visit www.raptorresource.org, email Anderson at rrp@mchsi.com, or mail: Raptor Resource Project, 2729 Locust Rd., Decorah, Iowa.