BirdCam / Birdhouse TV

A Google search will uncover several birdcams around the Internet...TV cameras trained on bird feeders and birdnests. These can be fun to watch, but nothing compares to having a TV camera in a birdhouse in your own yard. It is a thrill to watch the mother bird and eggs, then the baby birds hatching and growing up, and finally the first departures of the babies. Fortunately, birdhouse television is easy to set up for even those with no previous electronic experience.

First, you need a birdhouse. You can build your own, but if you're in a hurry you can obtain a pre-assembled wooden birdhouse for just a few dollars at Wal-Mart or Target. When you get it home be sure a cut off the little stick that most commercial birdhouses have under the round opening...it isn't needed by the mother bird, and serves only as a perch for other birds to harass the mother and her babies.

You will need a television camera. Because birdhouses are so dark inside, a black-and-white camera will actually provide better results than a color camera. Tiny B&W TV cameras can be obtained for as little as $13 at companies like Supercircuits. Be sure and buy a matching power supply or battery box when you order the camera. When the camera arrives take it to your nearest Radio Shack and purchase an RCA-RCA extension cord long enough to carry the video signal to inside your house.

Mount the camera near the top of the birdhouse, because the parents will bring in enough sticks and straw to cover the floor to a depth of several inches. The camera has a glass lens which is likely to be the target of repeated pecking by the sitting mother bird. If you place the camera in the very top of the birdhouse, looking straight down, it probably will be out of range of the mother's beak.

Run the camera cables into your house, perhaps to an un-used televison. Hook up a battery for the camera, set the lens focus to about 3 inches below the bottom of the hole in the birdhouse, and wait for the first occupants.

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