Joan Larsen Presents: Unbelievable Spycam Videos – Catching the Private Lives of Penguins

Posted on January 29, 2014


By Joan Larsen


Hidden cameras – cameras disguised as snowballs, bird eggs, snowpiles, mechanical life size penguins – can be found “hanging out” in an up-close-and-very-personal way in Antarctica’s penguin colonies – their little camera eyes filming the cute, funny, and especially poignant behavior  of the little guys.  The resulting special programs and small videos are priceless . . . and one look at them is seldom enough.



John Downer with some subjects.

What creative minds would have gone so far as to perfect this most innovative approach, deciding to enter  animals’ lives and reveal their world as never seen before?  Full credit must go to John Downer and John Downer Productions who have pioneered the spectacular groundbreaking techniques to get inside the private lives of penguins. Once you also see the small films, I think you too will agree that the word “genius” comes to mind.

A rockhopper male penguin  is getting tired of waiting for its mate to return.  Like many males would, he gets turned on by the fake penguin that has been set upon his nest, and begins to “adjust” the feathers on her bosom as a first step to love.  But then, his  mate arrives . . . and we can watch the interplay, filmed on the spycam implanted in the fake penguin.

The stately 4-foot-high Emperors “took to” a mechanical life-sized Emperor, seemingly inviting him to go along as they made the long journey to their colony.  When the fake Emperor penguin set off on his own march across the ice, the real birds “got in line and followed”.  Too funny.  But over winter at the colony, the spycam eggs were accepted as well.  Three hundred days of filming of the birth and first months of the Emperor chicks were done for the first time, providing an intimate look at penguin couples’ behavior with child.

You may not be familiar with a striated caracara, a bird that makes its living stealing penguin eggs.  But here you see him intrigued and a bit frustrated by the egg cam, flying off with it with the camera inside still running.  What resulted is that the caracara captured the first ever footage of a rockhopper penguin colony shot by a flying bird.  Pretty amazing stuff!!

Now the production company has branched off with very original spy cams, geared for an assortment of animals.  The names are intriguing in themselves.  How about “boulder cam” , “snow cam” for polar bears, and – all right, I will tell you: “dung cam” – so realistic that elephants are at home with the filming being done from below.

Spying on birds and animals with innovative hidden moving cameras, made to watch and document their behavior, has opened up a brand new world to most of us.  Somehow, I believe that “spy cam” soon will be another addition to our fast moving lexicon of new words and phrases that – already – we can hardly keep up with.

More?  Perhaps, next time.

JoanAvatarWriter Joan Larsen has spent a lifetime searching for the most remote places on Earth.  But it is the polar regions of our world that she has been drawn back to again and again.  She has done research in these lands of ice, and considers Antarctica to be her “other home.”