This post is in response to a Dan Dailey's request for more info on my owlcam. BTW, Dan is based in NJ and he has an owl in his box - I'm green with envy!
Custom vs. play & play
There are many options when you installing an owl cam. If you are technically inclined, have a lot of free time and you like building things then you can create a custom setup like Chris’. Here are detailed instructions on how Chris went about his owl cam construction.
Another option for the less adventurous is to buy a plug and play camera. I decided to go that route because my box was already up in the tree and I wanted to put something simple and easy in the box. I found a camera that offers a full color camera (day time only) with sound. The camera comes with two wires one for power and the other is a combined audio/video RCA cable which simple plugs into the back of your TV. Installation was easy and the longest part of the process was lying the cabling underground. I put a little piece of wood at the bottom of my basement window and drilled a small hole to accommodate the cables.
When to install the camera?
Ideally you should install the camera when there are no owls in the box. I’ve chased an owl out of the box and it never came back that season so I would hate for that to happen to anyone. If you are sure that there are no owls around then I would do the install now. Owls use the box for roosting throughout the year, so regardless of when you install it you may have the privilege of watching the owls. Owls will start looking seriously at your box for nesting in early Spring, so I would do it well before then. Late Fall/early Winter is a nice time of the year to do it because the ground is soggy and it’s easy to cut a path to lay the wiring underground – I just used a spade and ran it along the ground with a pointed edge and then just popped the wiring underneath the grass. If you do it now your Spring grass growth will also cover the ‘cutting’ line.
So what camera did you get and how much is it?
I bought the Hawk owl spycam from their website. You can also search around as there may be resellers that have special deals on. Make sure that you buy enough wiring to run from the box to your viewing site (basement, living room). Make sure you take into consideration the height of the tree/pole and any additional wiring through the house.
If you are comfortable on a ladder you can easily do the install while the box is up. All you need to do, is to drill a hole big enough to run the cables into the box. Installing the camera is as easy as putting two screws in.
The Hawk owl spycam is priced around $90-100 and additional 100ft cabling is around $35.
If anyone knows of any plug and play cameras or if you've used any others, please let me know by clicking on the comments link below. Good luck with your owlcam and let me know how it goes.