Before thanksgiving, I wrote that I was going to try and get good BirdCam images of a Belted Kingfisher that lives at my in-law's lake place. I'm pleased to report that the BirdCam succeeded and I've uploaded some great footage of a female Belted Kingfisher to YouTube. Watch as she bangs this little fish she caught against the side of our fish feeder. I guess to kill it before she swallows it?
I love this bird. We often see them flying low across bodies of water or perching along the shore, but they are wary and difficult to get close to. This is my favorite way to use the BirdCam,...to get close to birds that do not visit feeders.
If you haven't checked out the Wingscapes YouTube channel, we have some cool, close footage of Purple Martins, Barn Swallows (feeding chick in a mud nest under a dock), a Heron, and a variety of backyard birds. See: www.youtube.com/Wingscapes
Of course, we also have a video gallery on our site: www.wingscapes.com/videogallery
The photo at right (taken with Nikon SLR) shows the fish feeder that this Kingfisher was perched on. You can see how I have used the BirdCam Mounting Arm to mount the BirdCam. To use the Mounting Arm in this way, I removed the base-plate (used to attach the Arm to a feeder pole) and threaded a nylon webbing strap through the base of the Mounting Arm. You would do the same to attach the Mounting Arm to a tree. (I prefer a 'rachet' style strap because it really lets you get the strap very tight.)
It is worth noting that during this experiment with the Eye-Fi card (see previous post), I added another species to the BirdCam's life-list: the Cedar Waxwing. This is one of my favorite birds, and along with the Northern Flicker, it is one that I've wanted badly to capture with the BirdCam. While both happen through our yard every winter, neither frequents bird feeders. The Waxwings were hitting the bath this morning amid a massive flock of Robins, so I was able to capture a few shots. I've seen a Yellow-Hammer (Alabama slang for our state bird) at this bath, so I feel good about capturing that one as well.
NOTE: these images are slightly out of focus. I set the BirdCam focus ring to the closest setting (18"-24") and the bath is just beyond that range. If you look at the whole photo album, you will see shots with sharply-focused birds on the railing in front of the bath.
Read this post. It is important to anyone remotely interested in remote cameras.
See the "Photo Albums" on the upper left corner of this webpage? Check out the album
Taken on December 20th, 2007
These photos were automatically uploaded to this blog by a wireless router at my home that received images wirelessly from a Wingscapes BirdCam mounted on our deck. This is all made possible by a very cool new product: the Eye-Fi wireless SD memory card.
We are still experimenting with this card and I should say upfront that we've had some hiccups. However, it is very exciting to report that when we've gotten it to work properly, this wireless 2GB SD card effectively makes the Wingscapes BirdCam WIRELESS!!! This means that I can setup the BirdCam, go to work, and as soon as it captures images of birds, it automatically sends the photos wirelessly to my home computer, an online photo service (the Wingscapes blog, in this case), or both.
This first version of the product has some limitations. It will only transmit .jpg photo files (not our .avi video files). Range is limited by a number of factors (camera type, distance to Wi-Fi router, etc), and there are not many options for controlling the process. We'd like to see the ability to schedule uploads and an option that deleted images from the 2 GB card once they've uploaded.
This product was designed principally for casual photographers who do not want to connect their cameras to a cable in order to get images onto their computer. For that purpose, it works. But, I feel the value of this technology is FAR greater in applications like the BirdCam....where it actually extends the an existing product's capabilities. Expect wireless to become a common feature of digital cameras over the next few years.
Wingscapes tips its hat to the developers at Eye-Fi. They've successfully brought a problem-solving product to market that will surely be a big hit (the product is already racking up awards). We are looking forward to using the Eye-Fi card with the BirdCam and have high hopes for Eye-Fi as they work to improve this new technology. (I also have to give due credit to whoever designed the product packaging for the Eye-Fi. It is one of the coolest boxes I've seen.)
If you want to experiment with an Eye-Fi card in your BirdCam, please go for it. Because the technology is so new, we can not offer support for these wireless cards and I'm sure Eye-Fi can't offer support for application in the BirdCam. But, we got it to work and are having a ball with it. If you use an Eye-Fi with your BirdCam, please let us know how it goes.
The BirdCam is an iteration of technology that has been in use by hunters for years. "Trail Cameras" used to monitor deer and other larger mammals have been around since the early 1990's. ChasingGame.com is a website dedicated to reviewing trail cameras and has begun reviewing the BirdCam. If you are interested in a review from true experts, check out this site.
Since beginning this project two years ago, I've been reading birding blogs. I have a particular interest in urban bird blogs. One of the most compelling aspects of birding is that it provides a way for people to connect with wildlife and nature regardless of where they live. Anyone, anywhere can enjoy birds...less true with other types of wildlife. That so much bio-diversity exists in cities is missed by many, and it sets up an "ah ha!" moment for many beginning birders. Once you realize how many species are around you everyday, it is hard not to be curious about what you can find if you actually start looking.
Anyway, I've enjoyed urban bird blogs like City Birder and A DC Birding Blog for a while. I'd asked both to test out the BirdCam and was eager to see some images, especially from New York City. I was surprised when Rob Jett (City Birder) didn't have quick success, but he seems to have had a watershed session with it. In just several hours, he captured a Downy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Red-breasted Nuthatch, White-breasted Nuthatch, Chipping Sparrow and Purple Finch. Check out his post on December 1st. Hopefully we will see more BirdCam images from NYC.
David Sibley has a recent post on his blog discussing the strange image of a Carolina Chickadee taken by the Bird Couple. He breaks it down simply, clearly, and no doubt correctly. Like his books, Sibley's blog is great to read. Check it out....
Gary Lefko has begun posting some cool Wingscapes BirdCam photos at the Colorado Birder website. Including the interesting one below of what may be a Harris's Sparrow or a Lapland Longspur...