The BirdCam and BirdCam Pros from Wingscapes are weather-proof wildlife cameras/videocams. Both cameras have been set up in various sections of the RainyDayGarden for almost a year. Some readers have asked how these wildlife cams have fared and what we managed to capture with them.
Of all the BirdCams setups, the one which yielded the most interesting shots was at the 2nd-story window feeder. This is because we could vary the bird feed we put out (and thus change who visited it) and easily make adjustments to the BirdCam (because it was inside). Also with this particular setup, we can hear the birds at the feeder and so have an idea when "interesting" things might have been captured :-) The one requirement with the 2nd-story installation is that the window must be raised, as the IR motion trigger will not function properly otherwise.
It took a little while for the Blue Jays to warm up to the birdfeeder/camera setup. We finally got them to land with Cole's Special Feeder Blend and some whole roasted peanuts. In fact, the Blue Jays visited so frequently and got so good at landing that many can now snatch a peanut so fast that they don't even trigger the IR motion detector!
Another frequent visitor captured by the BirdCam are the Cardinals. We have seen males, females, young ones, wet ones, and ones that were molting (at first we thought they were ill, but came to understand that this was just their, uh, unattractive, stage). They make a sharp clicking vocalization when they eat and are quite skittish.
While they are happy to pose for the camera throught out the day, just don't get between them and the seeds when they are hungry. We didn't know that they were such vehement defenders of their lunches until we switched the BirdCams to video mode and captured this clip of one of them fending off some sparrows who wanted in on the goodies.
Of course, the cool thing about the BirdCam is not just capturing pics and videos of frequent visitors, but of those who only stop by on occasion. We had never seen a grackle at the feeder, but as the pics show, they have stopped by :-)
Accessories such as the articulated arm make setting up the BirdCam on a post easy to do. Because the socket on the bottom of the BirdCam is the standard 1/4" threaded socket, any camera support/tripod will work with it. We even had it on a small camera tripod when we took a time-lapse series of oyster mushrooms growing.
Below is a sampling of the candids we captured with the BirdCams pointed at different locations of the RainyDayGarden. Some of the best are of the sparrows, which like to hang out all day long. To encourage "safe feeding," we like to put the feeders close to plants which provide cover for our avian friends. Sometimes even we don't realize how many sparrows are there waiting for their turn at the feeder until we took a closer look!
Sparrows clearly do not mind feeding together, but they do still want their own space and will actively defend it when intruded upon. Photos of behaviors and interactions are difficult to capture, but much easier if one has a BirdCam :-)
What is nice about the extension arm is that it can be easily repositioned to face the camera in a new direction. If we think there might be some interesting activity on the platform on any given day, we can quickly reposition the BirdCam. All that is needed is to re-aim with the aid of the on-board laser and set the focus dial for the distance to the new subject and we are ready to go.
Feeders are obvious places to point the BirdCam, but there are many other simple-to-setup spots in a garden. All that is really required is a steady surface for supporting the BirdCam. A deck railing is just such a surface. We probably could have clamped the BirdCam on the railing, but to make it easy on ourselves, we inserted a large eyehook into the railing and just clamp onto that. The approach made setup and removal quick and simple.
When we set the BirdCam up on the deck, we had no idea if we would get anything at all. To our surprise, it was one of the more active locations. When reviewing the images, we thought we had captured a shot of a baby bear. Yes...that would have been absolutely amazing as we are in Boston :-) As it turned out, it was just our intern Milo checking out the flower pot.
There are still some things we have not yet explored with the BirdCam and BirdCam Pro, specifically their ability to take images at night using the on-board flash, and using it to capture time-lapse of flowers opening in the RainyDayGarden. BTW, with reports of turkey sightings, fishercats appearances, and even coyote being spotted, we shouldn't rule out the possibility that someday we may see an actual baby black bear wandering through the RainyDayGarden after sunset!!! If that does happen, one of the BirdCams will hopefully document the "event." [permalink] -BirdCam and BirdCam Pro InTheWild