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PixController honored by Audubon Society for Hays eagle nest camera

| Thursday, July 31, 2014, 7:06 a.m.
Erica Dietz | Trib Total Media
PixController founder Bill Powers accepts his award given to him by Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania Operations Director Brian Shema at Beechwood Farms Nature Preserve in O'Hara on Wednesday, July 30, 2014.

The almost 3.4 million views of a webcam trained on the bald eagle nest in Pittsburgh's Hays neighborhood netted PixController of Murrysville an environmental award from the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania on Wednesday evening.

PixController, a business that specializes in surveillance equipment and wildlife camera systems, set up the “nest cam” with the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

The video camera captured the successful hatching, raising and fledging of three eaglets this summer to a rapt audience of watchers from schoolchildren to senior citizen centers.

Also honored during the Audubon Society's 2014 environmental and conservation awards at Beechwood Farms in Fox Chapel were Meg Scanlon of Pine, the longtime naturalist at Latodami Nature Center in North Park; Beechwood Farms volunteers; local students and teachers; and Phipps Conservatory.

About 60 people attended the awards ceremony and the society's annual meeting.

PixController received the James H. Hardie Award for outstanding environmental stewardship.

“Honoring PixController was an obvious choice for us this year,” said Jim Bonner, executive director of the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania.

“The webcam was responsible for more people watching nature in the region than anything else this year,” Bonner said.

The webcam streamed live on TribLIVE as well as websites for PixController, the game commission and other outlets.

“The award is a real thrill,” said Bill Powers, CEO and founder of PixController.

“We want to make the webcams even a bigger deal next year,” Powers said.

He would like to have webcams not only at Hays but at the bald eagle nest in Harmar, on a steep bluff above Route 28.

He also wants to stream the webcams into local classrooms.

PixController has been working with camera systems documenting wildlife for years. It designed an affordable trail camera that was distributed by Cabela's outdoors outfitter since 2002.

The company's high definition video technology was nominated for an Emmy award in technological advancement for a NASA high definition project for the launching of a space shuttle.

PixController developed a wireless controller that was used for a wildlife webcam that documented the first live video of a black bear den, where Lily the black bear was documented giving birth to a cub on Jan. 22, 2010.

Powers also has video cameras installed locally in screech owl nest boxes and the peregrine falcon nest at the Cathedral of Learning in Oakland.

Mary Ann Thomas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4691 or mthomas@tribweb.com.

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