The wildlife trail camera is a motion-activated camera traditionally used for hunting, but now it is widely used in different walks of life. It’s strategically placed on one’s property to take pictures and videos of the wandering wildlife while the landlord is away. Triggered by motion and temperature changes, this camera is able to capture the most fleeting animals like birds. In this blog, we’re gonna introduce the features and applications of the wildlife trail camera.
Solid Design and Construction
Since wildlife trail cameras are mostly used in natural environments like bushes or forests, to ensure long-term use in outdoor settings, it’s better to choose one made out of waterproof and durable materials to avoid damages caused by water ingress or unintentional attacks from wildlife or other outside forces. A wildlife camera covered in camouflaged housing can easily blend into the background environment so as not to draw unnecessary attention and scare the wildlife away, even the sensitive types like birds. Moreover, a well-designed camera should be equipped with a viewing screen to display real-time or recorded files.
Most motion-activated trail cameras use PIR sensors for motion detection by detecting the temperature changes in the background. Normally, the faster the movement is, the greater the temperature change will be, and the more likely the PIR is to trigger the camera. The PIR sensor is equally sensitive to cold animals as they’re moving in front of warmer backgrounds. A camera with a larger PIR angle (above 48°) has a quicker response to motion changes and swiftly switches to the operation mode the second a moving object enters its field of view. And a wider sensing range also indicates an enlarged detection zone. A highly sensitive PIR sensor will greatly minimize false triggers by vegetation or natural forces (wind, water, etc.).
Flashes (no-glow/red-glow/white flash)
Trail cameras basically use three types of flashes i.e., white flash, low/red-glow flash and no-glow flash. White flashes have a world-renowned reputation of delivering exemplary image quality, but get severely criticized for its glaring flashlight. Cameras built with low-glow flashes, on the other hand, will emit partially visible red glows to light up the whole shooting area. These cameras also can deliver high-quality pictures and videos both at night and by day as white-flash cameras do. Nowadays, glow-free infrared LEDs, invisible to both humans and wildlife, are widely deployed to guarantee 24/7 continuous shooting even in complete darkness without spooking the wildlife. The trail camera with such advanced night vision is a perfect device for shooting nocturnal birds to provide decent quality pictures, albeit in black and white. Compared with low-glow/white-flash trail cameras, cameras that apply no-glow infrared LEDs may suffer slight degradation in image quality, but little difference could be noticed within a distance of 25ft/8m.
Camera Capture Modes
A wildlife camera that supports multiple capture modes is a more cost-effective choice. Some cameras only support one shooting mode (either still images or videos), but a greater sense of flexibility can be offered via the addition of a hybrid recording, which means the camera will simultaneously take several still photos in a row and then immediately start video recording at each trigger time. And cameras that support a time-lapse mode are also recommended for their programmability to take snapshots at predefined intervals and generate video files later. Some trail cameras can also operate at a certain time once the timer is set up.
Trigger Speed and Recovery Time
Trigger time/speed refers to the amount of time from motion detection to the first picture taken. Cameras with a faster trigger time (0.2-1s) will deliver pictures of considerably higher quality, for the less time it takes to take a snapshot, the more details it’ll reveal in the picture. What’s more, it’s always advisable to choose a camera with a short recovery time (the time for the camera to rebuild itself to take another shot after the first one), for long recovery time always leads to missed opportunities. Well-designed trail cameras nearly have no recovery time and are able to take multiple consecutive shots at every trigger event.
One of the minor limitations when using a wildlife camera is that most cameras are generally powered by batteries, but its wireless connection for power supply does offer great varieties on installation and placement, which makes it a robust tool not only for wildlife observation but for security monitoring. Choose Nimh rechargeable batteries or ones with long in-field battery life like lithium batteries (function well in cold temperature) to reduce the frequency of battery changing. If possible, it’s highly suggested to select a wildlife camera that supports both batteries and external power supplies like mains power or solar power, etc.
When to Use Wildlife Trail Camera?
As the camera technology improves, the wildlife trail camera becomes more affordable to the public. Hunters often use trail cameras in hunting seasons to keep track of the animals that frequent the hunting ground. It is also used by professional researchers, nature lovers and birdwatchers for wildlife observation and research projects to document animal activities of the rarely seen species without causing any disruption. There are also some educational benefits of placing a wildlife camera in your backyard. A hasty approach to the wild animals may end up hurting yourself, while remote observation with a discreet camera is obviously a better choice. Through the trail camera, you can have a closer look at different wild animals, learn about their living habits and characteristics. It is an excellent tool to help children inspire a love for nature, learn environmental responsibility and pay respect to every living creature. Additionally, it can be deployed in surveillance for domestic or public use or other evidence-taking works in illegal trespass and illegal poaching. Cameras that support time-lapse mode can be used to monitor the growth of plants and the progress of construction sites.