The owls are back . . . at least that’s the report we’re getting from a lot of our customers. If you have already been watching owls, you know how much fun is in store in the coming months as they lay their eggs, and then the young hatch and, then the parents bring in all those neat little tidbits of food . . . from moths and worms, to birds, mice, and rats. What a show!
If you don’t think you know enough to have owls in the backyard, think again. It may simply be because they don’t have a place for them to stay. You will be surprised at how quickly a pair will move in if you’ll take the time to mount an owl house.
Screech owls, Barn owls, Barred owls, Saw-whet owls and a variety of other owls are found in every state in the union, and many are surprisingly urban. Several years ago one of our customers sent in a picture of a barn owl house attached to the side of a building facing out onto an alley, with a dumpster right below it.
As an added bonus, some of the hawks, such as kestrels,will take up residence, and, of course, the squirrels are also sure to stop by.
For years I’ve watched “my” Screech owls via a Birdhouse Spy Camera mounted in the inside upper corner of the nest box. The box is only 10-15 feet off our back patio. From that vantage point, however, all we see much of the time is the back of the parents’ head. The only time we get a full view of the chicks is when the parents are out hunting.
So, I’ve tried mounting the camera at various positions, with varied results, along the side and the front of the box. Ultimately, I found that high up, on the front edge of the box gives the best view, especially when it comes to feeding time. I also tried a camera at the bottom, front of the box. At this location I did get some spectacular, up close, in your face views of the baby owls eating, but most of the time, someone was sitting nearly on top of the camera, and so the view was only of out of focus feathers. But then again, there were some really spectacular scenes, as you’ll see in the video below.
Here’s an easy way of mounting a Hawk Eye Nature Cam in another position other than the inside corner of the box:
1) Buy a 45-degree, 2” PVC elbow at the hardware store. Get the kind that has a straight, non flared leg at one end, and a flared leg on the other.
2) Insert the camera and either screw or Velcro it into place. I screwed mine into a wooden plug that I slipped inside the flared end of the elbow, and then screwed that into place.
3) Use a keyhole drill bit to make a hole in the side of the box. Be sure to keep this plug, so it can be used to reseal the hole if need be.
4) Simply slip the PVC elbow into the hole. You might need to wrap a layer or two of tape around the outside to assure a tight fit. Also tack the camera cable somewhere on the side of the box to help keep the camera in position.
Also remember that all of the action isn’t always inside the nest box. Try mounting a Hawk Eye Nature Cam outside the box, aimed up toward the entrance hole. Because of the camera’s wide angle lens, it doesn’t have to be very far away to capture the arrivals and departures of the parent owls.
Simply take a 1” x 2” x 24” board and screw it diagonally into the bottom of the nest box. Then screw the Hawk Eye into the end. Be sure to cover the camera to protect it from the rain.
To see the four different kinds of views you can expect from these camera positions take a look at our Setting Up an Owl Video Box, video. Also, take a look at our demo video Birdhouse Spy Cam Video to see the kinds of scenes you can watch and record.
The Birdhouse Spy Camera can be purchased at Educational Innovations. We encourage our customers to share what they are seeing in their owl boxes. Please post comments and video clips on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/hawkeyecam, or send it to Richard@birdhousespycam.com
Richard Yost is the founder of Birdhouse Spy Cam, which sells miniature video cameras for bird and other wildlife viewing.