Raptor family saved from wildfire thanks to live Internet broadcast

A brood of black kite (Milvus migrans) hatchlings was saved from being burned alive after researchers monitoring the bird family in preparation for a live broadcast to YouTube saw the nest about to be engulfed in flames, Tuesday, March 16.

The National Pingtung University of Science and Technology Bird Ecology Lab, with the support of the Forestry Bureau set up camera equipment to monitor the nest on March 12 in preparation for a constant live broadcast for the general public to begin on the evening of March 16.

The first hatchling had emerged from it’s egg on March 3, and there were two in the nest when the broadcast was due to go to air.

At around 6:00 pm, the team was preparing to go live on the YouTube channel when smoke started to waft around the nest. An adult bird was watching over the birds at the time.

As the smoke thickened, and sparks began to flicker around the nest, the research team urgently contacted the fire department, and prepared to rush to the site. In the meantime, the adult bird, growing increasingly nervous as the smoke began to smother her, sparks flying, and with no way to save the helpless hatchlings, flew away from the nest.

Fortunately, a firefighting team was already on site fighting the fire that had started around graves on the ground near the tree. The researchers were able to guide the firefighters to the location of the nest, and the firefighters managed to douse the flames on the tree trunk that were just about to engulf the nest of dried twigs and branches.

A cable leading to the long-lens camera mounted in a tree around 20 meters away from the nest was damaged, and the camera cover was blackened.

The research team who had rushed to the scene, repaired the power cable, which had been laid for hundreds of meters along steep slopes from a nearby farm.

After the repair, the live broadcast began, and readers can now observe the hatchlings progress for the next month or two on the Nest-cam, until the hatchlings become fledglings, and eventually leave the nest to start their own families.

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