How to choose a nest box camera

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.

 

 

24 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. 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. 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

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