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How to Set Up a Bird Box Camera for Birdwatching?

Watching the birds through your window is great but capturing their visits is even better. If you want to get a closer look at the birds in your garden, installing a bird box camera will help you record all the comings and goings inside with as little disturbance as possible. The bird box camera allows you to get a sneak peek at their daily routines like nest building and gain a deeper understanding of the local birds and other wildlife. The live stream captured by the bird box camera can be viewed on your smartphone and shared with family and friends.

What is a Bird Box Camera?


The bird box camera is a mini camera installed inside a birdhouse that helps to record visual images of its inhabitants. It’s usually made in a small size, making it perfect for fitting into any standard-sized nest box to observe various kinds of wildlife. And it often comes with infrared LEDs to provide night vision for 24/7 continuous recording without disrupting the activities of the birds. Nowadays, bird box cameras have become increasingly popular among bird enthusiasts, conservationists, and researchers as they provide a unique opportunity to observe birds in their natural habitat without disturbing them. They can be entertaining to watch, especially for individuals who are passionate about birds but cannot venture outside due to various reasons.

Basically, most bird box cameras available on the market are IP cameras, which means they can send and receive the footage over an IP network. By installing an app on your phone or tablet, you can watch the video remotely from the comfort of your home at any time via a network connection. Some bird box cameras are connected to the Internet through a wired connection while others can operate wirelessly. And this difference divides them into Wired and WiFi bird box cameras. For wired bird box cameras, the signals are transmitted via an Ethernet cable (usually PoE), while the WiFi bird box cameras can connect to your router wirelessly.

How to Set Up a WiFi Bird Box Camera?


Setting up a bird box camera may seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and techniques, it can be a fun and rewarding project. Here are the steps to follow for setting up a bird box camera for birdwatching:

Step 1: Test the Camera and WiFi Signal

Before installing the WiFi bird box camera in your birdhouse, you should test the camera in advance. Keep it running overnight to see if it’s functioning flawlessly. And you also need to verify the WiFi signal on the installation site. Check the distance between the camera and router before you install the camera into the birdhouse and make sure you are receiving a good signal. Since the bird box camera only works with 2.4 GHz bands, if you’re using a dual-band router, split the network in advance.

Step 2: Connect the Bird Box Camera to Your Smartphone

Follow the procedures to add your bird box camera to your smartphone.

1) Register an Account

First, you need to download ICSee. Tap ‘Sign Up’ to create an account, enter your email address, then the verification code, and lastly set a password (optional). If you have already signed up then skip this step.

2) Add the Camera to the App

Log into your account and click the ‘+’ button at the top right of the screen to select the model you are setting up. Rest your camera by pressing and holding the reset button for 3 seconds. Then the app will display a QR code to you. Point the bird box camera directly facing the screen, and then the connection will begin. After a minute or so, the bird box camera will be connected and added to the system.

Step 3: Install the Bird Box Camera into the Birdhouse

This step will show you how to mount the camera into the birdhouse.

1) Mount the Camera into the Birdhouse

Install the mounting bracket on the roof of the birdhouse and secure the bird box camera on it with some short screws. Next, run the cable through the slot at the edge of the birdhouse and secure it to the outside of the box with small clips or staples.

2) Power the Camera Up

Next, you need to power the camera up. You can run the power cable from your house or outdoor power socket to the camera and connect it up. If the bird box camera is installed far away, you can use a DC extension cable, but remember to bury the cable under the ground so it won’t get chewed by the rodents. Or you can power the bird box camera with rechargeable batteries but you need to change the batteries every 4-5 days.

3) Adjust the Focus and Boost the Lighting

After the bird box camera is successfully installed, you should adjust the focus by twisting the lens clockwise and counter-clockwise until you get a clear image. However, the lighting inside the birdhouse can sometimes be very frustrating. To address this, you can install a daytime LED lamp in the birdhouse or even better you can purchase a bird box camera that has daytime LEDs.

Step 4: View and Record the Footage

This guide will show you how to play back the recordings on your WiFi bird box camera.

– Open ICSee and load your camera’s live view.

– Next, click the Playback button near the bottom of the screen and press Video. At the top, you have the live videos currently playing, below you’ll have the recordings of different times.

– If your bird box camera is set to motion recording, you’ll see a series of red lines, and each of these lines is a motion-activated recording. But if the camera is set to continuous recording, you will see a solid blue line on the timeline, but you can navigate the footage using the left and right arrows to skip back and forth.

– To view recordings from another day, click on the date below the timeline, and you can change to another day and watch the recordings from it.



Step 5: Stream the Bird Box Camera to YouTube

Now, follow the tutorial below to set up the live stream. 

1) Before You Begin

Install the OBS Studio on your computer to stream the video from your bird box camera to YouTube. Please be aware that OBS Studio can only stream one camera at a time. Then register a YouTube account if you don’t have one. Once the registration is complete, you can create a channel and go live. 



2) Find Your Bird Box Camera’s IP address

To access your WiFi bird box camera in the OBS Studio, you need to find out the IP address of your camera. And there are two ways to do so: 1) using ONVIF Device Manager (available on Windows only) and 2) using the VMS (Windows or Mac).

In the first method, you need to install the ONVIF Device Manager on your PC, open it, click the camera entry in the ‘Device List’ and then click ‘Live Video’ under ‘NVT’. As long as your bird box camera and the program are connected to the same network, the correct IP address & RTSP stream will be displayed.

For Mac users, you can find the IP address by using the program VMS. Once you have the program installed, you need to open it, go to Device Manage, click IPV4 search, and then the IP address of your bird box camera will pop up in the box. Add it to your system as shown in the video. It will look something like 192.168.1.100, but each camera has its own IP address.



3) Convert the IP Address to RTSP Stream

Now you need to convert the IP address into an RTSP stream. You can use this link directly:

rtsp://x.x.x.x:554/user=admin&password=&channel=1&stream=0.sdp?real_stream

‘x.x.x.x’ represents the IP address of the camera. In this case, the IP address is 192.168.0.112, so you need to convert it to:

rtsp:/192.168.0.112:554/user=admin&password=&channel=1&stream=0.sdp?real_stream

If you set the password on the bird box camera as abc123, the RTSP stream should be:

rtsp://192.168.0.112:554/user=admin&password=abc123&channel=1&stream=0.sdp?real_stream

4) Copy the RSTP Stream to the OBS Studio

Now that you have the RSTP stream of your bird box camera, open OBS Studio. Under the Sources, click the + button, choose ‘Media Source’ and set a name for the stream. Untick the ‘Local File’, paste your RSTP stream into the input box, click OK and then you can see the video from your bird box camera on the OBS Studio. 

5) Stream the Bird Box Camera to YouTube

Now open YouTube and go to ‘Live Control Room’. Create a new stream, make it public, add a description and click ‘Create Stream’. The ‘Stream setup help’ window will appear if this is your first time here. Click the Copy button next to ‘Stream Key’ to copy it, then go back to the OBS Studio. In the OBS Studio, go to File > Settings > Stream. Click OK, then select ‘Start Streaming’ at the bottom right of the screen and your live stream will start. 

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