According to a comprehensive assessment of bird population in North America from Science, since the late 20th century, the number of existing birds has experienced a devastating reduction by a “notable amount” (2.9 billion in approximate). But the situation gets better recently thanks partially to the initiatives taken by bird lovers and warm-hearted gardeners who voluntarily provide shelters and food for those feathered creatures by installing birdhouses and feeders in their backyards.
Today’s blog is a step-by-step tutorial to help you make a birdhouse from scratch and teach you how to install a bird box camera into the handmade birdhouse.
How to Build a Birdhouse
Nearly every beginner-carpenter knows how to do build a birdhouse following clear instructions. You can easily start from scratch with existing materials, such as empty coffee cans, waste lumbers. And to gain a better picture of the interior, a mini-camera can be installed inside the birdhouse to satisfy the curiosity of the birdwatchers while keeping those sensitive fellas free from disturbance at the same time.
A birdhouse should be well-constructed, heavy-duty and sturdy enough to support the camera (milk/juice carton birdhouse is definitely out of option) and it should be made from materials that can be easily processed (porcelain-made birdhouse breaks during processing). Consequently, a wooden birdhouse would be a perfect choice.
Here are some instructions on how to make a wooden birdhouse.
Step one: Gather materials and cut the wood to the sizes needed
Gather some natural materials like pine or cedar (approximately 2cm-5cm thick) and any untreated wood or scrap lumbers will also work if no standard materials are available. Cut them into pieces to the following measurements (14″×5-1/2″ for the back; 9″×4″ for the front; 7″×5-1/2″ for the roof; 4″×4-3/4″ for the bottom; 9″×5-1/2″ for sides). And it is highly recommended to make a flat roof instead of in a slope ‘V’ shape to make it easier to mount the camera. And remember to rub the sharp edges with sandpaper to smooth the cuts.
Step two: Drill an entrance hole, some windows and ventilators
Drill an entrance hole on the frontal panel (1-1/2″ from the sides and 1-3/4″ from the top) with the help of a compass (used to draw a perfect circle) and a tapping machine (if available) and slightly rub the edges with sandpaper to smooth the cuts as well. Beware that the optimal size of an entrance hole is 25mm, 28mm, 32mm or 38mm to attract small garden visitors. Open some windows on either side of the birdhouse for illumination and cover them with plastics (waterproof but translucent materials) to avoid water ingress. An enclosed environment mixed with wastes and water is absolutely a perfect breeding ground for fungi and bacteria which will compromise your feathered friends’ immune system and cause disastrous consequences, so open some ventilators at the bottom for air ventilation and water drainage to avoid bacteria breeding and insect infestation.
Step three: Assemble the birdhouse with galvanized screws
Using wood glue would be the easiest way to assemble the birdhouse, but it is way better to put all the pieces together with galvanized screws. Nails are acceptable but not suggested for they may loosen gradually in long-time use. If possible, use a clamp for proper alignment during the assembly. Then put the back, sides, roof and bottom together with the screws. To make a removable frontal panel, you need to place the front piece about 3mm away from the roof for pivoting and ventilation and only fix the upper side to the box. After that, check if the panel moves smoothly and make sure the other parts are a hundred percent secure.
Step four: Drill the mounting point and figure out the best mounting place
Use some supporting materials like PVC pipes or wooden strips for reinforcement. Since different birds dwell at different heights, try to figure out the best mounting level to attract the birds you want to observe. And remember to keep the house away from predators like cats and squirrels.
Upgrade the Birdhouse with a Camera
Installing a bird box camera into the birdhouse is a fantastic way to get close to your new feathered friends without causing any disturbance. It gives you an opportunity to probe into their secret world of nesting and child-rearing. Compared with standing far off unable to see what’s going on inside the birdhouse, you’ll have a better watching experience using a camera to watch live videos on your smartphones or tablets.
The following are instructions on how to elevate your birdhouse with cameras.
Step one: Choose a suitable camera
The bird box camera can be roughly classified into wired and wireless cameras according to its data transmission method. Wired cameras offer more reliable connectivity for continuous operation, while wireless cameras will save you from complicated cabling work. Choose one that suits your specific needs, but make sure it is small enough to fit in the birdhouse. It is always advisable to choose a waterproof camera for outdoor deployment. And it is better to choose one that supports local recording on an SD card for regular playback. Please continue to read Useful Guide to Help You Pick a Bird Box Camera for Bird Lovers to find out a suitable bird camera.
To achieve a satisfactory bird watching experience, the camera should deliver high-definition images in close-up shots without degradation in image quality during data transmission. And it should have a wide-angle lens with an adjustable focus for a wider viewing angle. A night-vision camera with no-glow infrared LEDs is highly suggested to boost a bird-friendly way of bird watching. Smart features like motion detection should also be taken into consideration when picking a camera.
Step two: Prepare the gadgets and test the camera
To install a camera into the birdhouse, prepare some tools in advance, such as a power drill, a screwdriver and double-sided tapes. Prepare the camera kit (normally contains a camera, a power cable as well as the bracket and screws pack) beforehand. Prepare a large-capacity MicroSD card as well if the camera supports local storage. Test the camera in advance to see if it’s functioning normally and can be viewed on the app.
Step three: Install the camera into the birdhouse
1.Fix the camera on the birdhouse——Use a screwdriver to unscrew the roof. Once the roof is removed, find the best place to install the camera and drill a hole for fixation accordingly. Place the bracket on the attachment point and fix it with a screw. Then attach the camera to the bracket with provided screws on either side and remove the protective cap from the camera. If the camera supports local storage, insert the SD card into the slot and seal it with a sticker. Run the cable out of the box and use some clips to fasten the cable.
2.Power up the camera——To power the camera, there are two methods: mains power and motorcycle battery. If you have an AC outlet nearby the installation site, then you can simply run a power cord to power up the camera. But for long-range deployments, especially in hard-to-reach areas where there is no existing electrical infrastructure, the motorcycle battery is obviously a cost-effective and highly portable power solution, which gives you great flexibility on (re)placement, eliminating expensive and complicated cable running. Normally, a motorcycle battery only costs you $100 (even lower), while installing a new electrical outlet will cost nearly $185.
3.Connect the camera to watching devices——Different cameras have distinct ways of data transmission. HDMI cameras need to be connected to an HDMI converter or HDMI box to transmit live feeds to your TV or other HDMI/VGA-compatible monitors, while IP cameras usually stream the footage to your watching devices once connected to the same router/network and allow their users to watch live or recorded videos on smartphones, tablets or PCs.
4.Final adjustment and installation——Adjust the focus accordingly by moving the lens clockwise and counter-clockwise until you get a clear image. Last but not least, when all is finished, reattach the roof to the birdhouse and fix it with double-sided tape and screws. Then mount it to the selected location and patiently wait for those feathered creatures to make a settlement in your birdhouse.
Tips to Improve the Attractiveness of the Birdhouse
Colorful painting——You can use waterproof painting to brush the exterior of the birdhouse using vibrant colors like red and yellow to make your birdhouse look more attractive. Nature camouflages colors like green and brown that blend into the environment are perfect choices to protect the birds from potential predators.
Nesting materials——Although it is not necessary to prepare some nesting materials for the birds, some natural sources (i.e. dry leaves, twigs) are totally acceptable to help your feathered friends speed up the process of nesting. But chance has it that they might remove the additional building materials before they start the construction.
Water and food supplies——Fresh water is not only a source of drinking water but also a natural summer resort where those little guys can cool off and clean themselves. But do remember to refresh the water on a regular basis to avoid bacteria breeding. A food tray filled with tasty food is the most appealing attractant to your little friends, but make sure it can’t be reached by squirrels or other animals, or birds will flee away with possible predators nearby.
Bird-friendly environment——Growing plants that not only produce natural bird feed but also mimic the natural habitat where they are more accustomed to living. Avoid any use of pesticides which will only do great harm to birds’ health and pollute the entire ecosystem.