As the nesting season approaches, signs of increased domesticity in the local and returning birdlife abound. The construction of nests, the laying and incubating of the eggs, and the hatching and growth of young are among the most remarkable events in nature. But for all this activity, how much do any of us really witness?

With the Wingscapes BirdCam, capturing images of nesting activity has never been easier. Once the BirdCam is setup, nothing needs to be done until the images are retrieved. This makes it an ideal tool for observing nesting birds without disturbing them.
Last spring, the Wingscapes team successfully photographed nests of Eastern Bluebirds, Mourning Doves, Barn Swallows, Eastern Phoebes, and Purple Martins in various stages of nesting. We look forward to getting more great images this season.
By following these simple tips, anyone can record wonderful images in a safe, conservation-minded manner.

Tip #1 – Timing

Bill Thompson III, the Editor of Bird Watcher's Digest, suggested that the BirdCam be placed before eggs have been laid (during nest building, for instance). The introduction of a new object may cause a bird to temporarily keep its distance from the nest site. Mounting the BirdCam before the eggs are laid reduces the likelihood that this will interrupt incubation by giving the nesting adults a chance to grow acclimated to the presence of the camera. Exercise extra caution – and consider camouflaging the BirdCam – when dealing with species that are less accustomed to humans.

Tip #2 – BirdCam Placement

Protecting the nest from predators is of highest priority. Make sure that the BirdCam is not mounted in a way that provides a means for a predator to access the nest. If the BirdCam is mounted on a free standing tripod, make sure that the tripod is not close enough to provide a 'bridge' that predators can use to access the nest. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Tina Phillips recommends at least a 36" distance between a tripod and the nest, 48" if possible. (Our Eastern Bluebird photographs were captured using a tripod about 48" from the box.)

If the BirdCam Mounting Arm is used to attach the BirdCam to the pole supporting the nest-box itself, make sure that the Mounting Arm is attached above a predator baffle. Remember to adjust the BirdCam's focus ring to match the distance to the nest. (Our images of Barn Swallows, Eastern Phoebe, and Purple Martins were captured using the Mounting Arm.)

Another way to mount the BirdCam may be to simply strap it to another branch in a tree that holds a nest. (We used the included stretch cords to do this for our Mourning Dove images.) One tip: strap the BirdCam tightly and then wedge objects [eg – pine bark chips, sticks, etc] between the back of the BirdCam and the tree to adjust the aim.

Tip #3 – Minimize Your Presence

The BirdCam is an ideal tool for observing nesting behavior because it allows us to watch birds without disturbing them. To take advantage of this, try to visit the BirdCam and nesting site only when necessary. When you do approach a nesting site, be prepared and efficient. Get in and get out.

According to Julie Zickefoose of Bird Watcher's Digest magazine, “For most of the nesting season, a weekly visit to each nest box will provide an accurate snapshot of the lives of your birds, without undue disturbance."

The BirdCam can easily go several weeks at a time without being checked. Fully charged

batteries should easily last a month or more. An SD memory card will increase the capacity of your BirdCam dramatically. Remember, the larger the card, the greater number of images that can be recorded. Up to a 4 GB card is accommodated, so use the largest card you have.

Following these tips will help you to capture images of one of the most remarkable of all of nature's events in a way few have ever been fortunate enough to witness. You will also have accomplished your recording of the event in a safe and conservation-minded manner. Of course, all of us at Wingscapes would be very interested in seeing the results if you'd care to share them.