A family of California Barn Owls, two adults and their owlets, have over 6,000 followers for their live stream on UStream, and have generated over 12 million views. Their page also features live chat, and their followers are actively chatting with each other about the owls’ activities. At any given moment, comments like “I think I am going to start reading Wesley the Owl. Finished last book.” and “I love watching them fall asleep… so much that I joined them. (Oooops!)” go streaming by as the images of the owl family are displayed.
Two regular members interviewed for a news article said they watch the owls for hours, and sometimes keep the live stream running in a Web browser even when they aren’t watching to hear the audio. Watching the owls actually is fascinating, and it grows as you continue. Initially it seemed too invasive, however, the owls don’t know they are being watched, and wouldn’t understand what electronic surveillance is anyway.
It’s sort of like watching a nature documentary without any narration or canned music. You are free to have your own thoughts and make your own observations. Of course, you can also reference the constant stream of chat to the right of the video stream window, but it seems both irrelevant and much less poignant at times. The viewing I am doing right now is the only time I have seen young, wild barn owls up close. There is an option that allows for expanding the small viewing screen to fill your monitor. If you do that, watching them is almost like having your face about a foot from the owls. If you want narration, there are some online events planned, presumably to provide some background information about owl behavior and the lives of the ones shown in the video.
The cameras are owned by Carlos Royal, who lives in California. Barn owls are considered to be the most beneficial wild animal to farmers because they eat large quantities of rodents.