Watching Wildlife – How to choose the right Nest Box Camera

This is part two of a two-part series that will look into different ways of watching wildlife in your back garden. Part one looked at trail cameras. This second part looks at nest box cameras and offers advice on what to look out for when buying one.


There is a whole world of wildlife in our back gardens, but often these creatures can be elusive or hidden away.  Our range of wildlife equipment can offer you an amazing insight into their world from the comfort of your house, without the risk of disturbing your wildlife.

Come early spring, our garden birds will begin their breeding season. Placing a nest box in your garden will not only give breeding pairs a helping-hand in finding somewhere safe to have their young. But it also provides an opportunity for you to get up close and personal with the goings-on inside with the use of a nest box camera. There are several options and kits out there and a few things to think about when it comes to picking a nest box camera. Here, I will offer some advice and options to ensure you can find the kit that is right for you.

nest box camera
A glimpse into the nest box by Simon Redwood via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).
Wired, Wireless or WiFi?

The difference in nest box cameras come mainly in the way that you receive images from the camera itself. These are either wired, wireless or WiFi. Wired kits can provide better, higher quality, more reliable images, but are sometimes not as convenient as Wireless or WiFi kits.

IP nest box cameras are also wired cameras, however they are powered and transmit footage via supplied Ethernet cables. These cameras offer the greatest video quality available as well as the ability to remotely view your footage on a computer or smartphone.

Note that wireless or WiFi cameras still require power from either the mains (extension leads are available to buy separately) or from an external rechargeable battery.

Kit Contents

If you are completely new to nest boxes and nest box cameras, complete kits are available with a nest camera already mounted inside a nest box. Alternatively, if you are looking to purchase a nest box camera, but you already have a nest box, then you can buy nest box cameras separately

Viewing your footage

You can view your footage in a variety of ways depending on what camera or extra equipment you have.

Wired cameras – These plug straight into your TV with an AV cable. However if you want to view and record footage on your laptop or computer, you can buy a USB video capture device for both Windows and MacOS. The software included with these USB devices also allows you to set up motion detection or schedule recordings.


Wireless
– These cameras transmit their footage to a receiver which can then plug directly into your TV using the provided AV connectors, or into your PC or laptop via a USB capture device.

 

WiFi – These cameras transmit their footage over their own WiFi connection. This means you can connect your smartphone, tablet or PC to the camera’s WiFi to view or record footage.

 

IP – These cameras transmit their footage via long Ethernet cables which are plugged either directly into your router or into a wifi booster on the same network. Once set up on a PC or smartphone app, you can watch live footage of your nestbox from anywhere in the world.

If you need to use a wireless camera, a Digital Video Recorder kit is also capable of live-streaming. The wireless receiver can be plugged into the DVR which can be connected to your internet router to enable live-streaming. The DVR itself allows you to set up motion-detection or scheduled recording. You can also add up to four cameras to the DVR which may be useful if you want to watch from multiple angles or from multiple nest boxes.

Nest Box Camera
Great Tit Nest via Nest Box Camera on Windows computer screen ©Bryony James
Species

You may have a particular species of bird in mind that you are hoping to capture on your nest box camera. Our nest box camera kits with boxes are aimed towards common garden birds. The species of birds that you may attract depends on the entrance-hole size.

Nest box
Nest Box Camera Starter Kit

A 29mm hole, such as that of the Nest Box Camera Starter Kit, is suitable for Blue Tits, Coal Tits, Marsh Tits, Great Tits, Tree Sparrows and flycatchers. A larger 32mm hole, such as that of the Gardenature Nest Box Camera System, is suitable for House Sparrows, Nuthatches, Blue Tits, Coal Tits, Marsh Tits and Great Tits. It also has a removable front panel that is ideal if you are looking to attract robins or wrens.

Nest Box Camera Kit
Nest Box Camera Kit

The Nest Box Camera Kit has a removable 29mm plate that can attach over its 32mm hole meaning it is capable of attracting a range of species. If you are looking to attract anything larger or a more ‘picky’ species, then you may want to buy a species-specific nest box and fit one of our separate nest box cameras to this.

The Hedgehog Camera Kit
The Hedgehog Camera Kit – Wired camera

If you are lucky enough to have hedgehogs in your garden, why not see what they’re up to alongside giving them a safe place to nest? Our Hedgehog Camera Kit includes a high-quality wooden hedgehog nest box, designed and tested by the Hedgehog Preservation Society. It also includes a tiny camera that can easily be screwed to the roof or side of the box with no modifications required. Available with wired, wireless or Wi-Fi cameras.

Suggested Reading
Nest box
CCTV for Wildlife Monitoring – An Introduction

For a collection of handy tips, tricks and ideas, Susan Young’s book CCTV for Wildlife Monitoring is an ideal guide for photographing wildlife in your garden. Whether you are an experienced trail camera user or a newbie looking to order your first nest-camera, Susan Young’s book will offer a wealth of information to help you get even more out of your equipment.

If you wanted to read more about how to make, monitor and maintain your bird box, Nestboxes: Your Complete Guide is a great book that will guide you through everything you need to know about your nest box and its inhabitants.


Would you like some more advice on which trail camera or nest box camera is most suitable for you? Contact us on +44 (0)1803 865913 or email customer.services@nhbs.com . Alternatively, reply below and we will get back to you.

18 thoughts on “Watching Wildlife – How to choose the right Nest Box Camera”

    1. Hi Kenneth,
      Yes – you’re right. The cameras are each supplied with a standard UK socket and they should work fine with a standard EU plug adapter. I hope this helps to answer your question.
      Many thanks,
      Antonia Peacock
      Wildlife Equipment Specialist – NHBS

  1. Can you please recommend a nestbox camera that can be powered from a 12 volt battery? The area where we want to install nestboxes is too remote from any mains supply. And how frequently will be battery need to be recharged?
    Also, over what range is a wifi signal from nestbox to house likely to be achievable?
    Grateful for your advice.

    1. Hi Chris, thanks for your question. Our WiFi bird box camera can be powered by our rechargable 12V battery although these batteries only last up to 36 hours. People often get 2 so that one can be charging while the other is out powering the camera but this may not be ideal depending on how remote you are placing the camera. In terms of WiFi reach, the WiFi from the camera itself is limited. If you can get a connection from your own home’s WiFi at the location that the nestbox is situated, then you should be fine. I hope this is useful, but f you do have any more questions, just let me know.

      Many thanks,
      Antonia Peacock
      Wildlife Equipment Specialist – NHBS

  2. Hi, thanks for all this information. If I use the wifi camera, which box should I get? Would you suggest a complete kit with wifi and battery?
    Cheers
    Marcelo

    1. Hi Marcelo,

      Thanks for your comment. The WiFi camera is a great choice and it can be purchased as part of a kit with a ‘Camera ready nest box’ here. The box in the kit has a perspex side panel to let in more light and a camera clip on the roof that makes it ideal for using with a nest box camera. A 12V rechargeable battery can be purchased separately and can be found here. If you need any more recommendations or have any more questions, just let me know.

      Kind regards,

      Antonia Peacock
      Deputy Wildlife Equipment Manager – NHBS

  3. looking to buy a bird box camera to fit to one we already have. Im not very IT savvy so they all look complicated. We have some outside power. Would be good to see the birds inside as we see them fly into the box. Which one do you think is the best?

    1. Hi Helen,
      Thanks for your comment. Depending on how far away from your house the nest box is I would either suggest a wired nest box camera or a wireless one. (Both of these are designed to be fitted into an existing nest box). As the name would suggest, the wired camera comes with a 20m cable that connects the camera to your television (or computer if you buy the option with USB capture device). The wireless option transmits the image wirelessly to your home but does still require a power source near to the camera – your comments suggests that this isn’t a problem in your garden. If you follow the links provided to our website, you will be able to see full descriptions and specifications of each product. However, if you do have further questions about either of them, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
      With best wishes,
      Luanne

  4. Hi there,
    I’d like to buy a camera for a box that’s already installed. We could do wired or wireless, as there are sockets on the inside of the wall it’s attached to, but I’m not sure what to do about the wifi side of things. Our router is at the opposite corner of the house, and wifi won’t be strong (or there at all) where the bird box is. I’d like to have the sort of camera that connects to phone or ipad, but is there a way of boosting the wifi near the box? Slightly confused as to what I need.
    Many thanks for your help,
    Rachel

    1. Hi Rachel,

      Thanks for your comment. The WiFi camera is the only one that needs a strong WiFi signal at the box location. However, it is also the only camera that footage can easily be viewed from an iPad or phone so it sounds like it might be the best camera for your needs despite the WiFi signal issue. To solve this issue, you can purchase a WiFi extender (most electronic retailers or shops such as Agros or Currys should sell them – maybe even the supermarket!) which can be placed in a room nearer the bird box as to boost your WiFi signal so that it reaches the bird box. I hope this helps, but if you do have any more questions, feel free to get back in touch.

      Kind regards,
      Antonia – NHBS

      1. Hi Antonia,
        Earlier in this article it says that the IP camera can also be viewed on iPads etc see “ Once set up on a PC or smartphone app, you can watch live footage of your nestbox from anywhere in the world.”
        So which is correct??

        1. Hi Robin,
          Thanks for your comment. Footage from the IP camera can be viewed on tablets/phones, but only once it is set up and livestreaming. This process involves setting up with a computer and can be quite involved. Although it is a great project and will let you view your live footage anywhere, for a simple way to watch footage on your iPad, the WiFi camera is a much easier option.
          Kind regards,
          Antonia – NHBS

  5. Hi. Is it ok to have the wire from the nest box via a closed window or will this damage the wire?
    Thanks Jo

    1. Hi Jo,
      Thanks for your message. We wouldn’t recommend trapping the wire in a closed window (particularly if you have modern double-glazed windows that fit very tightly) as the wire is likely to become damaged over time.
      All the best,
      Luanne

  6. What would you suggest for an Owl box? We would want two. One for inside and one for outside views . Also want to be able to record for viewing later and to stream.
    TIA

    1. Hi Kathlene,

      Many thanks for our comment. Any of these cameras would be good for an owl box – you’ll just have to be careful with the focus when you first set the camera up to ensure any visitors will be nice and clear on the picture. The type of camera you go for will depend on your situation and how close the box is to your home/a power source. If you want to stream, the WiFi or IP nest box camera would be best as they have these capabilities (although I haven’t yet heard of anyone giving the WiFi version a go in practice). For the outside camera, you might be best going for a WiFi Bullet Wildlife Camera as these are weatherproof. If you wanted a chat about your specific requirement, do feel free to give us a call on 01803 865913 or email us at equipment@nhbs.com.

      All the best,
      Antonia – NHBS

  7. I would like to install a camera inside an owl nestbox in an area, where I do not have electricity or WIFI. The goal of having a camera is to see whether a bird is inside the nextbox every time I check the box (maybe twice a week). So I guess I need to purchase a wired nestbox camera, and the video cable could hang outside the nestbox, so I could connect a laptop to see whether any birds are inside, is this correct? is the camera constantly on? do I need an external battery supply for the camera or how long does the battery of the camera last? (I have had problems with cheap cameras that they shut off after a while and can only be turned back on by pressing a button on the camera which of course is inside the nestbox and thus not easily reached). I’d appreciate your advice

    1. Hi Angelika,

      Thanks for your message. A Wired Nest Box Camera could certainly be used in the way you suggest. Usually the cable (which is 20m in length) would be connected to a power socket and a TV or laptop permanently so that the birds could be viewed at any time. However, you could just leave the cable hanging, as you say, and take your laptop with you to check it. You would need to purchase the camera with USB capture device for it to be used with a laptop and I would also take steps to make sure that the end of the cable is protected from the rain. If you don’t have a source of electricity near to the box then you can purchase a 12V rechargeable battery for the camera. These will typically power the camera for up to 36 hours. However, if you didn’t need the camera to be on all of the time, you could just take the battery with you when you check the box and plug it in while you are there.

      Another option would be to use an endoscope (such as the Video Endoscope or the Explorer Premium Endoscope) to check the box. These are frequently used to see whether nest boxes are occupied, although it obviously requires the entrance hole to be accessible (either from the ground or using ladders).

      I hope this information helps but please do get in touch if you have any further questions.

      With best wishes,
      Luanne

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