Nest box monitoring

Introduction

The nest box/burrow monitoring camera and pole mount has been purchased for use by Nillumbik’s Landcare Groups and their members as part of the Nillumbik’s Conservation Corridors (NCC) Project. You will have access to the use of the camera and pole for a minimum period of one week and a maximum of four weeks. A roster will be set up and the camera can be booked out by each of the groups with the bookings to be managed by the NCC project manager. As it is being shared amongst the groups we ask that you please take care of the camera and any accessories and that it comes back in the same condition as you received it.

Nest Box Camera Monitoring Guide

It is preferable to use the most non-invasive method of studying an animal so as not to interfere with its behaviour and breeding success. Therefore, to help assist with monitoring what animals are occupying nest boxes on your property, a pole mounted camera has been purchased and can be used to monitor nest boxes. The wireless monitor that comes with the camera can be used to photograph or video the animal/s inside the box to help with the identification of the animals inside the box.

  • Nest boxes can be checked between January to late May. At other times, nest boxes may be checked for educational or communication purposes, but care should be taken when monitoring during winter and spring to avoid disturbance to breeding.
  • Observing the nest boxes at dusk is preferred, but not mandatory.
  • Prior to extending the pole, turn the camera on by rolling the power switch all the way until the light on the end is as bright as it can be.
  • Two or more people are required to use the camera; one to hold the extension pole and another to guide the operator, view the monitor and take the photos/videos when the camera is positioned correctly in the nest box.
  • Although the pole can extend to 8m, don’t raise it above the 3rd extension (approximately 3 - 4m) unless confident or strong enough to raise it higher. The pole and camera becomes very difficult to manage at heights above 3 – 4m.
  • Watch out for powerlines, particularly around road reserves. Although the pole is mainly fiberglass, there are some components which are carbon fibre so it can conduct electricity. The person holding the monitor and guiding the operator should guide where the pole goes to ensure it doesn’t hit any powerlines.
  • You may need to angle the end of the camera for different situations and different nest boxes. As the tube is flexible this can take some getting used to and will be different for each box/nest. You can manoeuvre the pole which will cause the flexible tube to manoeuvre into position. The person watching the monitor will be able to guide you and can tell you when to stop when they can see inside the nest box properly.
  • The camera and monitor are not shock resistant so please do not drop it.
  • The lens and the tube are water resistant when assembled, but the monitor and the handle are not so please do not to use the system when it is raining.
  • The camera runs on 4 AA NiMH batteries. The batteries should be fully charged when you receive the camera. However, if they run out a battery charger is available from the NCC project manager.

Operating the Monitor

  • The monitor works wirelessly from up to 10m away from the camera.
  • Press and hold the power switch on the monitor for 2 seconds until the power indicator turns green.
  • Keep the monitor on Channel 4 otherwise the image from the camera will not appear on the screen. If you happen to accidently change the channel, keep pressing the ▼ button until you get back to Channel 4 or until you see a picture on the screen (provided the camera is on).
  • To switch between video and camera press the ▲ button until you see the camera or video symbol on the top left corner of the screen.
  • To take a photo or a video press the OK button. To stop recording a video press the OK button again.
  • To replay a photo or video on the monitor press the ≡ button to go to the photo/video folders and use the ▲▼ buttons to scroll through the images. Press OK to view it and press OK again to exit. More information on deleting files can be found in the manual.
  • The monitor charges via a power adapter which is located inside the storage case. Connect the monitor to the adapter and the adapter to a power plug. For further instructions refer to page 7 of the user manual.

Viewing the Photos or Videos

  • The images are stored on a 4GB micro SD card. To get this card out you will need to push it in and it should pop out. There is a micro SD card adaptor in the box (please be careful not to lose this) and you will need to use this adaptor to view and download any images using a SD card reader.
  • You can also plug the monitor straight into the computer or compatible TV using the cables provided and this negates the need to remove the micro SD card.

Inspecting Burrows

You can also use the camera to inspect burrows. The 1m camera tube can be extended an additional 1m by screwing on the extension tube to the camera handle and reattaching the camera tube to the extension tube. The extension tube is supplied in the storage box. It is best suited to large burrows, but can also work in smaller burrows. Just ensure that the camera tip is wiped clean with a damp cloth if it hits the sides of the burrow and collects dirt. You can attach the monitor to the back of the camera unit or have another person operate the monitor whilst you operate the camera.

Slowly insert the camera into the burrow being careful not to disturb any animals that might be within the burrow, especially snakes that might be sheltering in unused burrows.

Data Collection

When using the nest box monitoring camera it would be beneficial to collect data on any animals that are occupying the box (both native and non-native animals). This data can then be submitted to the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas and can contribute to the greater knowledge of the animals in Nillumbik.

When installing or inspecting a nest box the following information should be collected.

  • The location of each box using a GPS or marked up on a mud map/aerial photo
  • Date of set up
  • Date of inspection
  • Location description
  • Tree species (if known)
  • Approximate height of the nest box
  • Animal residing in the nest box
  • A count of the observed individuals
  • If a photo or video was taken
  • The name/s of the observer

Download the data collection sheets in PDF or Excel format:

Nest-Box-Monitoring-data-collection-sheet.pdf

Nest-Box-Monitoring-data-collection-sheets-excel.xlsx