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Eagle Cam Views Increase as Hatch Nears

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The world's hottest bird celebrities, about to become parents for the fourth time in four years, are attracting geometrically increasing throngs of viewers to the Decorah eagle cam website.

"We had 70,000 on at one time yesterday, and it nearly doubled to 138,000 at one time today," Bob Anderson, director of the sponsoring Raptor Resource Project, said Friday.

The number of individual hits climbed from 6.2 million just a few days ago to more than 10 million on Friday, Anderson, of rural Decorah, said.

Anderson said he thinks viewership will continue to increase until the three eggs in the nest hatch into chicks, which could be Saturday.

Two of the three eggs are tipped and one has a hole in the shell. "I think we will have one chick out of its shell for sure on Saturday. Maybe two," he said.

Anderson said interest from news media, including CNN and several other national outlets, has been overwhelming. "We're getting thousands of emails a day and all kinds of interviews," he said.

In addition, Anderson said he is collecting high-definition video of the hatching for a National Geographic documentary. "I was up all last night," he said.

Anderson said he thinks the stress is outweighed by the rewards of helping hundreds of thousands of people learn more about the intimate family life of eagles.

Literally thousands of teachers are using the eagle cam in their classrooms, he said.

Anderson said the nest, 80 feet up a tree near the Decorah Fish Hatchery, is itself becoming a tourist attraction, with larger crowds every day.

"We are blown away by how big it's gotten," said raptor enthusiast Dave Kester of Decorah, who helped install the camera and subsequent technology upgrades.

To access the site, visit the Raptor Resource U-Stream page.

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