Setting up an automated camera to capture visitors to the various feeders we have around the RainyDayGarden has been on our ToDo list for years. The problem was triggering the shutter when birds landed. We could hack a motion-detector from a security system or use a pressure-sensitive perch to do the job, but we never got any further than the brain-storming stage with those ideas. We have seen the efforts of others who have gone the DIY route with webcams and small point-n-shoot cameras. They were educational from a “how to” perspective, but seemed rather cumbersome and kludgy.
After not finding a build-it-ourself solution that we liked, we researched what commercial options were available. By far the most popular unit appears to be the Audubon BirdCam made by Wingscapes. The Wingscapes Audubon BirdCam is a self-contained unit featuring:
- 5 Megapixel f2.8 camera/ SD storage
- Infrared motion sensor
- Records photos and video
- Weatherproof housing
- Laser aiming
The package comes with everything a person needs (other than batteries) to set up and use the unit. Here is what is in the box:
- Mounting cords
- USB cable
- TV-Out cable
- Tape measure
The camera is encased in a weather-resistant housing similar to a Pelican or an OtterBox. The difference is that incorporated into the case is a mount to put the BirdCam on a tripod, on a pole, or even the trunk of a tree. There is even a latch on the side for securing the case should it be desired. The battery compartment (4 D batteries) is on the back. The unit may also be powered by an optional AC adapter or solar panel.
A computer is not needed to view the images captured by the camera as the unit has 32MB of internal storage and a TV-Out connection. However, the use of a removable SD card is recommended for extended use. A 4GB SD cards is than $10 and will store over 2000 images at the maximum resolution.
The camera has a multi-element lens with an aperture of f/2.8 and a shutter speed between 1/8 and 1/400 seconds. It should will work well in most lighting conditions, but with a limited depth of field. The closest the camera is able to focus is 18″. The camera’s focus must be set manually. A tape measure is included in the package for this reason. A laser pointer built into the unit may be activated to assist with properly positioning the camera.
The angle of view is 52º for the lens and 22º for the IR sensor. This means that if the sensor is tripped, the subject will definitely be captured. The infrared sensor is able to detect movement from as far away as 8′ for birds and 32′ for people, as this BirdCam when properly placed can also double as a discrete security cam.
We will set up the BirdCams ASAP in the RainyDayGarden as we are eager to see what we can get on camera. Will have the Installation/FirstUse write-up as soon as we have something to show 🙂