How to choose a nest box camera


Please note we have published an updated guide to choosing a nestbox camera with up to date information on the latest technology available. Some of the products described in this article may therefore be outdated or unavailable


Nest box cameras provide an excellent way to observe the exciting nest building, egg laying and chick rearing behaviours of your local birds.

Deciding which nest box camera to choose can be confusing and several questions should be considered before you make your choice: Do you need a wired version or would a wireless option be best for you? Do you want a camera that you can fit into an existing box, or would you prefer to buy everything already assembled? Will you be able to view your footage on your PC or laptop? Do you want to stream your footage to a website? In this article we will address all of these FAQs and offer some simple advice to make sure that you get the best out of your camera.

Do you want a wired or wireless system?

Wired systems have a cable running from the nest box back to your house or classroom. This cable carries both the power to the camera and the signal from the camera to your TV. A wired setup offers excellent image quality but may not be ideal if you have children or pets in your garden or if a cable running to your bird box will interfere with the gardening. You will also need to feed the cable into your house, either by drilling a hole in the wall or by feeding it through an open window.

Wireless systems do not require a cable between the bird box and the television but instead transmit images to a small receiver situated inside the house. For some cameras, such as the Wireless Nest Box Camera Kit, a power supply will still be required for the camera (i.e. from a shed or outbuilding). Other cameras, such as the battery powered Wireless Nest Box Camera Kit have solved this problem by adding a battery box, allowing the camera to run off D-cell batteries. An advanced version of this camera system is also available. This includes a solar panel which will power your camera while the sun is shining, only switching to battery power at night or on dull days.

Another thing to consider with a wireless system is that the signal can be compromised by other wireless devices in the area or by trees and other structures between the nest box and the house. In some situations this can severely affect your image quality.

Do you want a complete kit or just the camera?

If you are new to this particular aspect of watching and listening to birds, a complete kit, such as the Nest Box Camera Starter Kit or the Wired Camera Bird Box, provide an excellent and economical choice. These kits include a bird box which has a camera ready mounted in the roof. An attached cable plugs into your television and supplies the camera with power. Alternatively, if you want a wireless option, the Wireless Camera Nest Box is a great choice and doesn’t require any complicated assembly processes.

For the handyman or woman who wants to put a system together themselves, either in a bespoke or existing nest box, the Nest Box Camera with Night Vision is a good choice. The camera comes with a 30 ­metre cable and extension cables are available to purchase separately. The Wireless Nest Box Camera Kit or the battery powered Wireless Nest Box Camera Kit are good options if you want to fit a wireless camera into your own bird box.

If you decide to go for one of these options then you will need to attach the camera to the ceiling or inside wall of your box yourself using small screws. A small file can be used to file down a part of the side wall to make a space for the cable to pass through. Alternatively you might consider buying a Camera Ready Nest Box which has a clip inside for attaching a camera, as well as a perspex window in the side which helps to improve the quality of daytime images.

What about watching on your computer?

All of the cameras and kits that we sell come with either a cable or wireless receiver that will connect directly to your television. If you want to view or save your footage onto your computer then an additional USB capture device is required. These allow you to connect your camera/receiver to the USB port of your computer and come with viewing software which allows you to watch and record your footage. Available for both Windows and Mac operating systems.

Can I stream my footage to a website?

There are lots of online services which allow you to stream a live feed from your camera online. Many are free if you are happy having adverts on your stream, or you can purchase a monthly or yearly ad-free plan. Our current favourite is Ustream (www.ustream.tv). Take a look at their website for lots of great resources to help get you started.

 


Please note we have published an updated guide to choosing a nestbox camera with up to date information on the latest technology available. Some of the products described in this article may therefore be outdated or unavailable


 

44 thoughts on “How to choose a nest box camera”

    1. Hi Miky,
      One of our Wildlife Equipment Specialists will email you shortly to answer your query and discuss your requirements.
      All the best,
      Luanne

        1. Hi Franziska,
          Sorry for the slight delay in getting back to you. I have been in contact with the manufacturers to double check this for you and yes, our wireless nest box camera kit with the digital video recorder (DVR) is capable of recording footage without the need for your computer or TV to be on. You will need a HDD (hard disk drive) for the footage to be stored on. If you don’t have one of these at home, we sell the wireless camera kit with DVR and a 1TB hard drive (product code 243577) which will allow you to record large amounts of footage. Please also note that you will require the 8V external battery if you would like to power the camera by battery. A single charge will last up to 36 hours so it may be worth getting two so that you can always have one fully charged and ready to power the camera whilst the other is charging.
          Let us know if you have any further questions.
          All the best,
          Antonia Peacock
          Wildlife Equipment Specialist – NHBS

  1. I have a bird box camera set up, but setting the focus is awkward, as your not certain of the finished nest height, need a camera with remote/auto focus?
    Any ideas please.

    1. Hi Ron,
      All of the nest box cameras we sell have manual focus adjustment. This means that it needs to be adjusted before the birds start nesting. We usually recommend placing a small object (which is roughly the size of a bird, or perhaps slightly larger to account for the additional height of the nest) in the bottom of the bird box and adjusting until that is in focus. Once it is set, however, it is difficult to change it once the birds have started using the box. Unfortunately, I’m not familiar with any nest box cameras that allow you to adjust the focus remotely, or which will adjust automatically.

    2. I do not know of any small nest box cameras with remote focus. I use a Samsung SNB-6004 2mp IP camera which does have remote focus (i bought it off of eBay). You can do all video adjustments (including focus) from your computer. Of course the height of the birdhouse must be larger to accommodate this full sized camera. I made my bird house about 8 inches taller, and put in a “ceiling” at the proper height with a hole in it for the camera lens. These cameras will need an external IR illuminator for night viewing (also on eBay).

  2. Dear Sir/Madam
    I have 4 medium parrot stand-alone cages with nests which I need to supervise during the breeding season. Ideally, I wish a wireless system connected to my computer one floor up, or else wireless from cages to a router (or whatever) and wired from there onwards (up to my computer). As I am not technical, I wish I complete system quote. If it helps I have already a 4 channel CCTV recorder but not wireless.
    Wish to share your expertise and a quote if you can serve it.

    1. Hi Lino. One of our wildlife equipment specialists will be in touch with you shortly by email to provide some suggestions and a quotation for you.

  3. I have a bird box cam in my owl box, but I think a squirrel moved in. There is now nesting material blocking the camera, so the focus is off. Are there any cameras that have auto focus?

    1. Hi Carolyn. Unfortunately all of our cameras have to be adjusted by hand. I’m not aware of any models that will adjust automatically or which can be adjusted remotely.

  4. Hi , if using a battery for the camera instead of power cable, wont that disturb the birds when having to change the battery?
    thanks
    Kath

    1. Hi Kath,
      Unfortunately the battery powered cameras are no longer available as the manufacturer decided not to continue producing them. However, they were designed so that the box could be attached to the wall or fence a short distance away from the nest box and then connected with a cable. This meant that there was no need to open the nest box itself or even get too close to it in order to change the batteries.

  5. Hi Luanne,
    We live in the Scottish Highlands and are lucky enough to have pine marten/s visiting our garden (I built a peanut box after one day seeing a red squirrel scampering through the grass – the squirrel has not used it, but the pine marten raids it every few nights, and has left scratches on the tree trunk and scats on stones). I am about to build a pine marten den box and thought it would be a good idea to put a camera in it. We intend to put the box in a group of seven pines, about forty metres from the side of the house, so not easy or tidy to get mains power to. Had thought I might put a piece of perspex in the front, top of the box, to allow, hopefully, some daylight to get in for colour footage. What camera would you suggest?
    I would like to view the CCTV directly, but would also like to be able to record too. What is the maximum distance from the box to the receiver (our PC is at the other end of the house from the den box side?
    Any help would be appreciated.
    Kindest regards
    Angus

    1. Hi Angus, wow how exciting! I’ve forwarded your query to one of our wildlife equipment specialists and they will contact you by email with some recommendations and more detailed information on the current models we stock.

  6. Hi. We think we have owls nesting in a box in our barn. We’ve not actually seen them but have heard them for first time tonight (presumably we were hearing babies while mum had gone out?). Last two years since we’ve been here not noticed any. I’d love to install a camera. Guessing we need to wait til this year’s brood has fledged and left? It is a barn owl style box but from the sound I suspect tawny. What camera would you recommend? We have power in the barn and would need to download to Apple devices (laptop/ipad or desktop). Would love to be able to live stream to our business website too (we have a glamping sure and love to promote our wildlife). Thanks for your help.

    1. Hi Katie,
      Wow – that’s really exciting! One of our wildlife equipment specialists will be in touch with you shortly by email to provide some advice and some product recommendations for you.

  7. I am looking for a camera that can be hooked up to a laptop or Kindle or with a USB cable that will enable me to insert it into numerous nest boxes for nest checks. The purpose is to count eggs and/or babies. I have looked online but am unable to determine which cameras may be suitable.

    1. Hi Van,
      One of our wildlife equipment specialists will be in touch with you by email to discuss which cameras will be best for your purposes.

  8. Hi Luanne,
    I have built a sparrow box and have a blue tit box in use. I would like to place a camera in each. They are both about 10M from the house so would have to be wireless. Any suggestions as the best way forward.

  9. Dear Luanne,
    I have just purchased a Green Feathers 1080P HD IP bird box camera, with PoE injector and cables, for an existing metal owl box half way up a large walnut tree. I hope it is a good choice as I didn’t think of finding this website before buying!
    I am worried about unsettling the owls, if indeed they are there at the moment. We never see them as they are night creatures. How do you think we should proceed?
    Thank you!
    Anthony

    1. Hi Anthony,
      If you have any suspicions that there may be nesting owls in the box then it is very important that you do not disturb them. (If you are certain that the box is empty then it is of course fine to install your camera – but from your comment it sounds as though you aren’t sure). Unless you have a way of monitoring the box through the night for a few days I would probably recommend waiting until next season to put it in – February is usually a good time.
      I hope this helps and wish you every success in getting some great videos!

      1. Thank you Luanne.

        We have established that they are not there now, so it would be good to instal the camera.
        Do you know the camera we have bought?
        Much appreciate your help.

  10. Hi Luanne,
    I am carrying out a scientific study on the nesting phenology of House Sparrows in Kolkata, India. I have put up a few Sparrow nest boxes. Now I wish to install some micro cameras with night vision to record their nesting behaviour in my laptop. Please suggest some camera (with specifications and price) so that I can successfully complete my research.
    Regards,
    Subhendu

  11. i am looking for a bird box camera. my problem is that the birds are nesting in the roof of my garage. the internal gap is very small and the external hole that the birds go in and out is also very small. witch camera could i buy

    1. Hello Samantha,

      Thank you for your query. As per my email, we would recommend the Nest Box Camera with Night Vision. The camera used in this kit can also be found in many of our other nest box camera kits. The camera itself measures 3cm x 2.5cm x 2cm. You can connect this camera up to your TV so that you can watch the goings on inside your garage. The nest box camera works in complete darkness as it emits a light that the birds cannot detect.
      If you would like any further information or advice, please get in touch. I hope this helps!

  12. Dear Luanne,
    I have a huge bee hive in a tree and would like to set up a “Bee Cam” to monitor the hive. Obviously there is no box to protect the camera. Are the cameras you recommend for bird boxes waterproof? It needs to be a wireless set up too. Any recommedations?

    1. Hello Anne,

      Thank you for your query. It is really exciting that you have had bees take up residence in your tree! Our nest box cameras can be described as weatherproof, however, I would not recommend using them without cover. All of our nest box cameras do require their own source of power, so you would need to be able to run a cable from the camera to a power supply or external rechargeable battery. Even our ‘wireless’ cameras require this, as it is only their data transmission that is wireless. Unfortunately, the technology does not exist to have a completely wireless camera yet.

      However, I have two suggestions for you. The first is to mount an open-fronted nest box in the tree and fix a wired nest box camera into it pointed at the hive. Alternatively, I suggest that you have a look at the Gardenature Underwater Colour Camera with Night Vision. This camera is designed to be fully submerged, so will be fine in all weathers. With both of these options, however, you would need cables connecting the cameras to power and to your television. I hope this helps answer your query!

  13. When I click on the link in your text which is called
    battery powered wireless nestbox camera kit
    I get taken to a page which shows a device requiring
    connection to a mains supply.
    I am looking for a battery powered wireless nestbox camera,
    not a mains-powered one. Suggestions?

    1. Hi Mark,

      Apologise it has taken a while for me to reply to this comment. This blog is a little outdated now so if you wanted to take a look at a more recent version, take a look here:
      https://blog.nhbs.com/wildlife_equipment/nestboxes-and-habitats/watching-wildlife-part-2-nest-box-cameras/

      Although some of our past battery-powered cameras have been discontinued, we do still sell external batteries that work with both the wireless and wifi nest box camera and these can be found here:
      https://www.nhbs.com/rechargeable-battery-for-nest-box-camera?bkfno=240583

      Please note that these only last up to 36 hours on 1 charge, so if you are wanting to be certain not to miss anything, you may want to invest in two!

  14. Most modern TVs don’t have the sockets to accept a wired input. I have found this out following a Christmas present which promised much but with the nest box 20m away at the bottom of the back garden, our old TV up in the front bedroom, and the need to get the wires into and through the house, plus the cost of the extra length of wire,make the wireless option preferable.

  15. I have an exiting nest box and want the best solution for a camera inside the box. I think the IP Nest Box Camera may be the best option. I need to stream it to YouTube through likely the RTSP protocol.

    It appears your IP Nest Box Camera camera will allow this option. Also do you have a program you recommend to transfer the RTSP to YouTube?
    More info: Box is about 30M from the exterior of my home so I may need to purchase a Broadband over powerline option. I live in the US so I assume I’ll need a power conversion for the PoE power plug?

    Please have someone let me know the best options and $ numbers. Thanks

    1. Hi Mike,

      Apologise for not replying to this beforehand. I believe someone in our equipment team has already been in touch directly with you regarding the questions above but if you do have any more questions or queries, please just let us know at customer.services@nhbs.com.

  16. We currently have a peregrine falcon nest with 5 eggs in it near a classroom window. It is in a protected area and not right out in the open. I would like to know what the best type of bird nest camera to use without having it in a box. I was hoping it could be mounted to the window or wall area near the nest in order to view the eggs hatching and then to continue to watch the growth of the birds. We would like to livestream the nest. What do you recommend?

    1. Hello Mindi,

      Thanks for your query. It’s great to hear you have peregrines – how exciting to have a once so scarce bird right outside your window! For live-streaming, my top suggestion would be the IP Nest Box Camera: https://www.nhbs.com/ip-nest-box-camera

      This camera plugs directly into your router or network switch and can be set-up to live stream. It isn’t entirely waterproof so would need to be kept fairly sheltered and out of direct rain. It is also worth mentioning that the maximum focus range is around 3 feet from the camera. The camera comes with a bracket on that back which could be mounted to a wall if needed.

      I would also recommend that you check your local laws on peregrine falcons and their nests as in the UK they are very heavily protected by law. Peregrines can be very sensitive to disturbance so make sure that any camera installation won’t disturb the nest or birds.

      I hope this helps answer your question but do please let us know if you have any further questions.

      Kind regards,
      Antonia Peacock
      Wildlife Equipment Specialist – NHBS

      1. Thank you, Antonia, for the information. Yes, I do not want to disturb the nest so if I do set up a camera it will have to be done carefully. This is the second year the peregrines have returned. If need be, I can always wait until next year to set up a camera and have it installed before the nesting season begins. I can see the nest from the window, but I would love to have a camera mounted outside of the window for a clearer view of the nest.

        I appreciate your information.

        Kind regards,
        Mindi

        1. Hi Mindi,

          You are very welcome. I agree it would be great to get a camera on them – especially if you are able to set up live streaming so that children in the school can stay updated and see what is happening wherever they are. I wish you the best of luck with the project and please don’t hesitate to contact us again if you have any questions.

          Kind regards,
          Antonia Peacock
          Wildlife Equipment Specialist – NHBS

  17. Dear Antonia

    Im looking to set multiple cameras(high end)
    In birdboxes that I wish to multiplex and stream live locally as well on the web. Pref. POE cameras. Could you advise anything in this direction as well maybe a ref. On how to set such system. Species: house sparrow, house martin, swifts, , tits, redstart and others possibly including owls and falcons all answers are great thanks mattias

    1. Dear Mattias,

      Thanks for your question. The best camera we have for live streaming is definitely the IP nest box camera (item code 236023). This camera is one of our higher-end cameras and can stream at 1280 x 960 at 15 frames per second or 720p at 25 frames per second. It can be powered by 12V DC or PoE and can be plugged directly into your router or network switch. The RTSP livestreaming takes a little bit of set-up and has to be done through external websites (some may incur a cost), such as Ustream or rtsp.me, but once set-up, your feed can be viewed anywhere in the world with an internet connection. The camera can focus from 8cm to 1m and so should be suitable for everything from sparrows to larger species such as owls and falcons. On setting up multiple cameras – this would depend on if each camera is in a different location or not. If you have any further questions or would like to chat more about set-up, or if you would like a quote for some cameras, drop our customer services an email at customer.services@nhbs.com and ask to be forwarded to Antonia.
      Kind Regards,

      Antonia Peacock
      Wildlife Equipment Specialist – NHBS

  18. I’d like to put a camera in a currently empty barn owl nest box, but I travel a lot, is there a way for me to have a camera that I can see even if I’m abroad? If I have to use a website to watch the footage from, can I have it private? I don’t want to reveal the location of my birds.

    1. Hi Will,

      Thanks for your question about live streaming. Our IP nestbox camera is able to be set up to live stream via RTSP protocol which will mean you are able to watch what is happening in your owl box no matter where you are in the world, as long as you have internet. The actual process of setting up a live stream can be complicated but there are some useful Youtube videos out there that can help. Most streaming services use external websites (RTSP.me is a site some of our customers have used) and some can incur a subscription cost but others have basic plans that are free (such as RTSP.me). Some sites offer password protected streams to keep your owl’s location private, and others will only be accessible via a link so that you can choose who to share the link to the feed to. I hope this helps but if you do have any more questions or queries, please don’t hesitate to get back in touch.

      Many thanks and Kind Regards,

      Antonia Peacock
      Wildlife Equipment Specialist – NHBS

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