Eyes this time of spring are focused on the busy, vast world of birds returning to Minnesota and points north. There are also eyes on the popular webcams watching those birds making the return trip.

One anchored on Lake Onalaska near La Crosse, Wis. – the Mississippi River Flyway Cam – is worth checking in on.

“It really is a great opportunity to document activity along the flyway, engage the public, and help connect them with this resource in our backyard — or backwater, should I say,” said John Howe in an e-mail to the Star Tribune. “It is really an immersive experience to pull the livestream up on an HDTV and watch, listen and relax.”

John Howe is the executive director of The Raptor Resource Project, which installed the webcam last August in the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. The 360-degree flyway webcam was put up and went live with help from the wildlife refuge, Riverland Energy Cooperative, Brice Prairie Conservation Association and Explore.org, an nature cam network.

From eagles to an abundance of waterfowl, more than 325 bird species migrate round trip through the flyway. In spring, many are headed for breeding grounds Minnesota and the northern region, as well as Canada.

Howe’s colleague Amy Ries is working on collecting video with Explore.org to build databases on what they — and viewers — are observing. “I’d like to be able to combine some of this data with data gathered elsewhere and import it into e-Bird. We think it’s a pretty important dataset.” Ries added.

Learn more at raptorresource.org.

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