An inexpensive camera system for monitoring cavity nests
Journal of Field Ornithology, 2012, 83(3): 302-305.
A variety of pole-mounted cameras have been developed for monitoring nest cavities. However, currently available camera systems may either be prohibitively expensive or difficult to assemble. I developed an inexpensive (<$500 US) and easily assembled camera system that allows researchers to monitor cavity nests from the ground. The system consists of a small camera, a cable connecting the camera to a ground-level power source and laptop computer, and a flexible neck connecting the camera to a telescoping pole. During a study of Red-headed Woodpeckers (Melanerpes erythrocephalus), I used this camera to inspect 16 nests and found that the images were clear and allowed accurate counts of eggs and nestlings. This camera system uses standard, off-the-shelf components, and can easily be altered. The design is not appropriate for humid or dense-canopy environments because of the inclusion of a laptop and its wired design. However, this design makes the system inexpensive and allows researchers to save, edit, and view nest inspection recordings.
cavity camera; nest inspections; Red-headed Woodpeckers; reproductive success; video monitoring