Watching online nest cams can give birders an intimate glimpse of the life of a baby bird from the moment the eggs are laid until that first, terrifying flight of a young bird. For many birders, watching nest cams is a way to observe their favorite species without disturbing them, and many conservation organizations and awareness groups host seasonal nest cams to introduce tech-savvy birders to the joys of nest monitoring.
What Is a Nest Cam?
A nest cam is exactly what it sounds like – a camera focused on a nesting bird. These small cameras are usually fixed in a position to give a clear view of a bird's nest, either from a short distance away or in the case of cavity nesting birds, from a snug hole inside the nest box or bird house. Cameras are frequently run only seasonally when birds are present, though the dates of different cameras and their availability can vary based on other factors, including funding, popularity and local conditions such as weather or damage that may affect the camera.
Online Nest Cam List
Online nest cams are typically run in one of two ways: live streaming video or a progression of refreshed images. Streaming video nest cams are the most popular but can also be the most expensive to maintain with website support and bandwidth costs. Still image cameras refresh periodically at intervals from just a few seconds to a few minutes between each image, giving viewers ongoing snapshots of the nest.
There are dozens of nest cams available online from around the world, featuring dozens of different bird species. While not all nest cams are available all the time, some of the most popular and most reliable include:Various Birds / Multiple Cameras
- Derby, Derbyshire, England
- The Santa Cruz Predatory Research Group, San Jose, California
- Warsaw, Poland
- UWM Biological Sciences, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Is your favorite nest cam not on the list? Email me with the link to have it added!
Tips for Watching Nest Cams
Nest cams can be great viewing for birders, conservationists, classrooms and anyone interested in nesting birds. To make viewing the camera easier…
- Use the recommended browser, if available, and a high speed internet connection for the smoothest views. If the view is choppy or refreshes slowly, close additional programs running on your computer while viewing the nest cam.
- Avoid keeping a browser window open with a streaming camera at all times. This uses bandwidth and prevents other users from checking the camera. Instead, check in on the nest cam but close the window when you aren't actively watching it.
- Remember to turn on the speakers if the camera includes a sound channel. This is a unique opportunity to listen to the soft mews and begging calls of very young birds, sounds that birders in the field do not typically hear.
- Learn the habits of the bird nest you are observing and tune in when the birds are active. Birds of prey, for example, are more active early in the day and later in the afternoon. If the parents are active, viewers have the best chance of observing the eggs or chicks.
- Donate to support the nest cam if possible. Even small donations can help support greater bandwidth use, camera upgrades, nest box repairs and other conservation efforts to keep the camera available in additional breeding seasons.
Watching nest cams can be a fun, educational and insightful experience that many birders enjoy. With cameras available around the world for dozens of different bird species, it is always possible to tune in to the activities of a new bird family.
Photo – Fledglings © Moosealope