I’ve had a wireless bird feeder camera in my garden for a couple of years and I really enjoy watching the large variety of birds that come to visit. Earlier this year I decided that having a nest box with a camera in it would be quite a cool addition.
I checked out a few of the nest box options and decided that I would like a wireless / wi-fi enabled camera. Mainly because I’d like to view the birds nesting on a computer and also remotely via my phone, when I am away from home. The wired cameras are a bit more hard work to setup and they make watching on a phone difficult.
In the end, I opted for a Gardenature Side View Birdbox with Wi-Fi Camera. The bird box came already assembled with the camera already fitted. I chose the side view model over the top down view as it seemed more interesting to watch.
I also added an SD Card so the camera can record footage 24/7. This is optional but a good idea. I would recommend a good quality, high-speed SD card such as the SanDisk Extreme 128GB card I used.
Following my “How to Install a Wireless Bird Box Camera” guide should result in your having the next box and camera setup within 30-45 minutes.
Step 1 – Setup the Camera
You’ll need a Phillips head screwdriver to open the box, there are three screws (two on the front and one on the top). Once opened I inserted the SD card into the camera and connected the camera to the mains to get it setup.
Despite it being called a wireless camera, there is actually a power cable for the camera that needs plugged into the mains. The wireless name refers to the method of video transmission, ie over wi-fi, rather than the camera being totally wireless.
The camera only operates on 2.4GHz wi-fi so if you have split your router into 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks then connect your phone to the 2.4GHz network before trying to setup the camera.
I work as an app developer and I still found the XMEye Pro app a bit cumbersome to use. The camera connected easily enough but it is not an intuitive app. I can maybe build a better bird camera specific app, at some stage.
Regardless, XMEye Pro did work and I was able to view live video from the camera on my phone. I was also able to setup motion detection alerts and set the camera to record 24/7 to the SD card. I also figured out the convuluted way of downloading videos from the SD card to my phone.
You will have to mess around with the app for a bit to figure it all out. You won’t break anything though!
Step 2 – Fit the Hole Protector Plate
The bird box comes with two metal protector plates that go around the entrance hole. This is stop woodpeckers and other birds from pecking at hole to make it larger so they can get in. You have a choice of 28mm or 32mm entrance holes.
Blue tits, great tits, coal tits, marsh tits and tree sparrows will use the 28mm hole. House sparrows and nuthatches prefer the 32mm hole. The entrance hole protector plate simply screws on the front of the box around the hole.
Step 3 – Position the Box
Before you put the front back on the box, you need to position the box in your garden. There are two screw holes in the back of the box. Simply screw in the provided screws to fit the box to a fence post or pole. I wouldn’t screw it into a tree, I would use some wire or twine to hold it in place.
The box should face between north and east so it avoids strong sunlight and heat.
The height you place the bird box at depends on which type of bird you want to attract. Position the bird box 2-4 metres from the ground for tits & sparrows. Woodpeckers & starlings prefer to nest higher up, at 4-5 metres.
The birds should have a clear flight path to the entrance hole.
When installing the box check the “floor” is level and the fixing screws are vertically lined. You don’t want the birds sliding about!
Step 4 – Close the Box
Run the power cable from your house or outdoor power socket to the camera and connect it up. You should then be able to view the camera feed live on your phone. Check the camera is pointing where you want it and screw the front back on the box.
I used some cable clips to hide the cabling along a fence and buried other sections of it under some gravel. The cable is weatherproof.
You should now have a fully functioning nest box with a wireless camera in it. You just need to wait for some birds to move in!
Typically they will move in mid-to-late March. They do start looking for nesting locations in autumn so you can put a box up anytime. You may just have to wait a few months for them to start using it.
Step 5 – Viewing the Nest Box Video
You can view the camera footage in real-time using the XMEye Pro app. You can also download recordings to your phone or tablet and even upload them to YouTube (such as my video at the top of this page). Feel free to subscribe to my Camp Cook Explore YouTube channel to watch my bird feeder & nest cam videos.
Enjoy watching your birds nest and rear chicks!
My next article covers how to live stream a bird camera to YouTube.