'Nestflix' and More Animal Webcams for Quarantined Kids

From bald eaglets to jellyfish and black bear cubs, there's a whole world of nature for children to see. 


Humans may be on pause, but the natural world isn’t. Critter cams of bald eaglets, jellyfish, black bear cubs, and other animals offer a dynamic view, and some learning opportunities, too.

When recommending animal livestreams to students, think through your scope and focus. Set up a pre-learning venue, like a Padlet, to gather and share what students know, wonder, and discover. Also: Do a little research before engaging young viewers. Tender-hearted youngsters might not want to see babies of any kind who don’t thrive, or the fledgling eagle devouring its bunny lunch. Fortunately, links to puppy playrooms or migrating pelicans can also provide good company.

Explore.org is the largest philanthropic nature network for viewing animals with several wilderness livestreams featured on its site. To watch one, choose a live cam and click “HIDE OTHER CAMS” in the lower center of the screen. Scroll down for more information, including weather, maps, and best viewing times on the left; and comments and questions (“COMMUNITY GUIDELINES”) on the right. Many partner sites on Explore.org have lessons, but you’ll want to preview them for quality and grade level. Students must be 13 to have an account.

Two quick picks from Explore.org:  Kenya’s Mpala nature lab has an excellent livestream presence on Explore.org, with expert moderators and online events. While the accompanying lessons are less than stellar, the wonderful award-winning Stories from the Bush videos and an active online classroom project. Alaska’s Katmai National Park is famous for its brown bear cams, and its Katmai underwater salmon cam shows bears swimming. The live cams are currently down, but Explore.org is featuring exciting highlight videos in the meantime.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is famed for its lovely Moon Jelly Cam, but it has other live feeds, too, as well as guided meditation videos. The “Learning at home” page has games, activities, and “courses” for several age ranges, including one in Spanish.


The Puppy Playroom at Maryland’s Warrior Canine Connection follows golden and labrador retriever pups starting on the path to socialization as they are trained to act as service dogs to wounded vets. There are no attached lessons, but older students or groups could research and produce infographics on the differences between service, therapy, and emotional support animals.

The Decorah Raptor Resource Project has a beloved eagle nest livestream, along with lessons on the main site and Pinterest page. Their online classroom is currently closed. The “Nestflix” page features top YouTube highlight videos. For young children, the videos and activities are the way to go. The Raptor Resource cams on Explore.org include one from an island in the Mississippi River in Wisconsin where you can view many migrating birds, including pelicans.

Read: Beastly Bionics: Rad Robots, Brilliant Biomimicry, and Incredible Inventions Inspired by Nature

Other sites

Cornell Lab of Ornithology has bird cams, with some also on Explore.org. Two of their helpful educational pages are K-12 Lessons and Activities and the Bird Academy Play Lab, with games exploring flight, song, dance, feathers, and more avian phenomena.

The Forest Service’s YouTube live cam provides a dramatic view of Arctic terns (seabirds) in a beaver habitat overlooking Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, AK.


The SafariLIVE YouTube webcam follows expert rangers through South African game reserves. The rangers deftly fill time when animals are absent with answers to chat questions and facts about grasslands, plant life, and more. More information is on the website.

The San Diego Zoo’s webcams of hippos, baboons, giraffes, and other animals, along with its curriculum site, have activities and lessons (not all aligned with the cams). Also take a look at the videos page, which has cams, videos, and arts and crafts, mostly for younger children.

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo's well-known livestreams include feeds for animals from lions to naked mole rats. A current favorite shows a black-footed ferret named Potpie in the nursery box with her babies. The site provides downloadable K-5 packets designed to go with the live-action videos.

The Wildlife Center of Virginia (WCV) has three live critter cams for animals in its care, currently including bald eaglets, black bear cubs, and other animals. Moderated discussions related to the feeds can be reserved by a class or group. WCV is a teaching hospital, and the patient archives make interesting reading for older teens who may want to pursue animal science.

Wildwatch Kenya has a citizen science project that uses cams. Participants observe and sift through data on reticulated giraffes. This is for older teens, with parental permission.

Related, but not livestreams:

National Geographic’s Explorer Classroom program is for ages 13 and up and includes live YouTube events. Nat Geo also offers free PD courses for educators.

This fan favorites that went viral: “The Log” and “The Log 2: Another Year” show edited video highlights of an astonishing variety of animals that crossed a stream, day and night, in rural Pennsylvania.

While human zoo-goers are safely at home, tiny goats visit their neighboring animals in this cute Facebook video series from the Oregon Zoo.

Skype a Scientist has livestream events that are archived on YouTube, with several animal-themed offerings including “Squid Senses” and “Animal Communication & Genetics.”

While the Hakai Institute in British Columbia doesn’t have live videos, it does have an excellent YouTube channel whose offerings include this brief video about the Giant Pacific Octopus. It also sponsors Hakai Magazine, an outstanding, readable online journal of marine science and coastal cultures. Definitely share this one with high school English and science teachers.

Melissa Techman is in her fifth year as co-librarian at Western Albemarle High School in Virginia. She previously worked in K-5 and public libraries. 

Read: SLJ review of Under My Tree
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Betsy Bird

Let's not forget the webcams on libraries! Our peregrine falcons here at Evanston Public Library have their own 24/7 view. Now's the perfect time to watch too since the fuzzy little babies are almost ready to be banded: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7dNGV-npak&feature=youtu.be

Want to see the banding live? On Saturday, June 6th at 10 CST I'll be hosting a banding with the Chicago Field Museum and naming of the babies. Folks can register here to watch (and in spite of what it looks like, you don't need an EPL library card - just sign up!): https://evanston.libnet.info/event/4332694

Posted : May 28, 2020 03:44



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