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How to Use Cameras for Bird-Watching

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Cameras have long been used in bird-watching, typically for taking photos. However, more and more casual bird-watchers are using cameras to record their bird feeders, keeping an eye on their gardens even when away from home. 

Like many other niche hobbies, many people flocked to birding over the course of the pandemic (pun totally intended). Wired even reported last year that amateur bird-watching increased so much that it caused a data boom

We’re going to offer some handy tips on how to use cameras for bird-watching, so that you’ll never miss a rare or interesting bird again. 

What is a Bird Camera? 

For a bird-watcher, there is nothing better than catching a rare bird at your feeder. While video cameras won’t give you the same thrill of spotting a unique bird in your garden, it may satisfy your curiosity as to exactly what species are coming and going. After all, busy bird-watchers aren’t always in a place to monitor their bird feeder 24/7, so surveillance is a great way to check in on avian visitors.

Recommended reading: Continuous Recording Security Camera: AlfredCamera Launches Latest Feature

A wide variety of cameras will serve the purpose, but some are better equipped for bird-watching than others. Don’t worry—there’s a good chance you already have most of the equipment you need. 

Credit: Bird Watching HQ

How to Choose Bird Feeder Cameras?

Bird-watchers use all sorts of cameras for their bird feeder, from highly expensive digital cameras to GoPros. Phones also make a great option for casual bird watchers. The digital camera option is typically for people who want to photograph birds more than they do record them, and for surveillance purposes it can be hard to justify the high price point. 

GoPros are probably more effective at recording, thanks in part to their size, but the quality of these cameras isn’t typically much better than most smart phones. 

When looking for a camera that is well-suited to monitoring and recording a single area over a long period of time, you can’t really do better than home security cameras. They are capable of recording large amounts of footage over a long period of time, in good quality. These can prove expensive, and a cheaper alternative is to simply use an old phone

You can easily pair your smart device with AlfredCamera for use as a security camera, which will even send you a notification when it detects motion. If you’re in another room away from your feeder, you may be able to run outside in time to catch the bird when you receive a notification on your phone.

You can also use it to monitor nesting, as a customer of AlfredCamera has done in the video below:

“I’m using the app to watch the birds building their nest and hopefully breeding soon.” 

https://alfred.camera/tv/7KtBWrM40

AlfredCamera is available for free on the App Store and Google Play Store.

How Do You Set Up a Bird Feeder Camera?

How to set up a camera for your bird feeder depends on which option you go for. If you are linking a device to an app, there will typically be instructions on how to do that when you open the app itself.

It is also very important to have sound recording turned on on whatever device you’re using. While it is possible to identify most birds based only on how they look, some are very similar and can only be identified by the noise they make. If you use a smart device to monitor your feeder, it’s important to have it set so that it can record any birdsong as well as video.

If you’re going to be monitoring your feeder at night, it’s important to use a set-up that has night vision, especially if your garden has no exterior lighting.  

A Blue Jay retreats from a feeder with some food in its beak.

If you want to film your bird feeder from multiple angles, you’ll have to invest in multiple cameras. If you are using devices that store the footage they record, you’ll have to review the footage on the devices separately. You’ll also have no way of knowing when and where a bird appears in the video.

With app monitoring such as that offered by AlfredCamera, you can connect multiple devices and review the footage as one feed. You can also easily identify any areas in which movement was detected by the app. 

FAQ

Which camera is best for bird photography?

For manually photographing birds, you’ll want a point-and-shoot digital camera, preferably one with a zoom lens. Many DSLRs are available from the likes of Nikon, Sony and Canon, with lower cost options and more expensive models.

Are trail cameras good for bird-watching?

Trail cameras are useful for bird-watching, particularly when near a bird’s natural habitat, as they allow the photographer to take a photo without disturbing the subject. When used in conjunction with a motion-detecting camera app that notifies you on a smart device of a bird’s presence at your feeder, you’ll be able to take an excellent photograph of the bird without setting foot outside. 

How do you record birds at a feeder?

Home security apps are well optimized for recording video. Many can be set only to record when motion is detected, preserving battery life and taking up as little space in your device’s storage as possible. In order to record most efficiently, you should monitor your feeder and make a note of what times it is busiest. This way, you can set your device to record only between these hours, saving battery. 

Conclusion

While some would argue that using video cameras removes some of the thrill of bird-watching, there’s no denying that they can be a really useful tool for monitoring your feeder and making sure that you don’t miss out on any interesting sightings. Using the handy guidance here, we hope your bird-watching will be better than ever.

Interested in learning more about how you can utilize AlfredCamera for? Check out our article 8 Interesting Ways Users Are Using Video Monitoring Revealed