Many homes are now equipped with high speed computer networks and access to broadband Internet service. By buying or building a bluebird nest box equipped with a networked digital camera, you will be able to observe and record the entire nesting cycle of wild song birds (hopefully bluebirds) that occupy the nest box. As a bonus, if the camera contains an embedded web server, you will be able to share nest box activities in real-time with anyone who has Internet connectivity. Viewers can observe and record activities by accessing the camera with their web browsers.
This article is based on an experimental bluebird NESTCAM box constructed by Help-for-Bluebirds.org. The nest box is equipped with a Linksys WVC54GC wireless color digital camera capable of sustaining up to four concurrent Internet browser sessions. The WVC54GC can be purchased for about $100.00 from a number of sources. The control software supplied with the camera will simultaneously monitor and display up to four separate cameras. The low physical profile of the camera and its transmission range of approximately 100 feet make it a suitable candidate for NESTCAM boxes.
Advancing bluebird conservation through applied research and education.
Mark I Mod 0 wireless color bluebird NESTCAM box
Snapshot taken with Linksys WVC-54GC wireless color camera software
Note: Date/time stamp and camera ID are superimposed by the camera
The Mark I Mod 0 NESTCAM box is a standard front opening wooden bluebird nest box with a 15–degree two-stage sloping roof. The two-stage roof is comprised of a 3/4” thick pine board inner roof covered by an outer roof made of a section of 12” long by 8 1/4” wide Hardiplank cedar mill cement fiber siding. The roof was designed to allow it and the attached camera to be removed and relocated to another nest box. The idea behind this approach is to enable the camera to be quickly moved to a nest box containing a nest of interest without disturbing the nest. The nest box is mounted on a 50–lb concrete pedestal that can be relocated as needed.
MK I Mod 0 wireless color bluebird NESTCAM box mounted on concrete pedestal
The camera is attached to the ceiling of the nest box using a metal bracket that compensates for the 15–degree sloping roof. The camera is centered directly over the floor.
Linksys WVC54GC wireless digital color camera attached to nest box ceiling
The Mark I Mod 0 NESTCAM box is not artificially illuminated. There are differences of opinion regarding the effects of artificial illumination on the birds occupying the nest box. Some believe the artificial light negatively affects the birds while others believe the light has no effect on the birds.
Without an artificial light source, the camera operates satisfactorily from dawn until dusk even on cloudy days.
MK 1 Mod 0 NESTCAM PROS
1. Fairly cheap and easy to build
2. Wireless with an effective range of approximately 100 feet from the network router or range expander.
3. Can be easily relocated to other nest boxes that have been designed for rapid roof replacement.
4. Self-contained web server supporting up to 4 concurrent web browser sessions.
5. Enables viewers to record images for themselves.
MK 1 Mod 0 NESTCAM CONS
1. Requires 110 VAC power.
2. Only provides images from dusk to dawn.
3. Has no audio capability.
You can view the contents of the MK I Mod 0 NESTCAM box for a limited period of time by clicking on the link shown below. Click on view video from the tool bar when you arrive at the Linksys web server page.
MK I Mod 0 NESTCAM box
If you would like the plans and bill-of-materials for the MK I Mod 0 wireless color bluebird NESTCAM box, please Email Bluebird Shepherd.