For many years I have always had nest boxes up in our garden and pairs of House Sparrows often used them to raise a brood. Sadly the population of the Sparrow has significantly dropped in our area now and I only ever see one or two, compared to over twelve or more in the early 90’s.
In 2005 I decieded to move the boxes onto the wall of our house, to try and tempt any interested tenants. In April I noticed a Blue Tit was taking great interest in one of the boxes and after a few weeks the visits increased, with moss and nesting material being brought in. The pair seemed to be doing well with both birds bringing in food for their chicks. Sadly the female abandoned the nest and chicks in May.
Whilst reading through the many bird boxes websites on the web, I was marvelled to see great pictures and video from inside a nest box. Inspired and with our boxes now being used again I decided to construct two new boxes with cameras inside, to allow us to see what actually happens inside the nest box.
During the early planning stages it was decided to built one big box, but separate it into two compartments. The box was built from Plywood, purchased from our local hardware store. Metal tubes protected the front enterance holes for predators. The box was then installed during October 2005.
A pair of Blue Tits used the left hand side of the nest box, but the nest sadly failed with the female being lost just before incubation started.
In August 2006 I decided that the boxes should be separate from each other. Two new boxes were constructed and the old box (2006 season) was moved into our local nature reserve, where for seven seasons (2007-2013) it was used by Great Tits. Sadly in 2015 the box damaged and lost to the weather. A replacement concrete box has been purchased to replace it.
Bird Boxes 1 & 2
Bird Box 1 and Bird Box 2 are located in our back garden. Both boxes are made from Plywood purchased from our local hardware store, for around £10 a sheet, and were installed in September 2006. We have used them for the 2007 – 2021 nesting seasons.
Each box has a false roof made from Plywood, with a glass panel glued on top of it.
The cameras themselves are mini CCTV, both identical, and were purchased from Maplin Electronics. The cameras are colour but can not record in dark conditions, without the lighting being turned on. Both cameras are mounted inside boxes to protect them from the weather and elements.
The camera boxes are mounted on wooden sliding panels which then sit on top of the false roof, allowing easy moving if necessary without distrubing the resident.
Since purchasing the cameras in 2005 they have now been discontinued and are no longer available to purchase. There are other cameras available to use. Please see our links page for ideas.
Boxes 1 & 2 have five white LED’s installed into the false roof panels. The LED’s were purchased from Maplin Electronics (No longer available). Other small pea bulbs can also be used instead of these LED’s, but when deciding what lighting to use be careful as we have seen too much light/bright lights can put off potential occupants.
During really sunny days I can leave the lights off in the boxes and still record in colour.
Bird Box 1 & Bird Box 2 have 32mm holes to allow Blue Tits, Great Tits or House Sparrows in.
Bird Box 3
In December 2008 I decided to add another nest box. Instead of building one this time I purchased a ready made kit made by Garden Nature. The kit contains a ready made nest box with high-def camera and 30M of cable to connect it with.
The box contains no LED’s but the box has plastic windows to allow natural light in to provided enough light to produce a colour image. During dull days and at night the cameras IR LED’s provide a good picture. The camera itself is mounted on a sliding pastic panel, which forms part of the false roof, allowing easy access to it if required. The entrance hole is 32mm in size.
Bird Box 1
In 2012 I had to replace this camera as the existing one failed, after three years of use. It was purchased from Maplin Electronics (same module) just before they discontinued the product. It was mounted inside a home made protective case.
Upon testing the cameras for the 2013 season I discovered the camera had failed again. The camera was not replaced until the 2014 season, where I purchase a bird box that had a good internal camera inside it. The camera was removed and the box used elswhere.
The camera is mounted in a home made protective case and also has night vision. It also has a microphone. The camera connects back to the main control box.
Bird Box 2
This is a Labtec USB Webcam mounted inside a home made protective case. The camera connects to our main PC via a USB cable. This camera does not work in the dark.
Bird Box 3
This is a mini wireless colour CCTV camera mounted inside a home made protective case. The camera was purchase in July 2008 and is provided/sold by a company called Nature Watch. The camera connects to it’s own wireless receiver. This receiver is then connected to our main control box by phono leads.
This camera has it’s own IR LED’s allowing video and pictures to be taken in poor light conditions. The issue with wireless is that sometimes the signal/picture breaks up. I may look into replacing this camera with a wired version.
Main Connection Box
The main connection box is home-made with all the electronic parts being purchased from Maplin Electronics. The box has an output for each camera and these feed into a Scart switch box, apart from Outside Camera Box 2 which is a USB connection. The switch box then connects by phono to our main DVD Hard Drive Recorder
PC & Webcam Software
We have looked at many of the webcam programs out there. At the moment we use a program called Yawcam. The software is setup to record a set of images each time motion is detected. The images captured are copied across onto our website.
We have a dedicated PC which has four USB capture cards connected to it and one PCI capture card. The Outside Bird Box 2 camera (webcam) connects to the same PC via USB. The PC has 16GB of memory and two 250GB hard drives for storing all the photos captured on.
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We do not specifically recommend any of the items/software mention on this page. This setup/equipment has worked for us. We can not be held responsible for any problems that may arise.