Birds are amazing creatures. They can take to the sky with a single powerful beat of their wings and fly for hundreds of miles without stopping. They live in every corner of the earth, from tropical rain forests to icy tundras. But there is one thing that all birds have in common – they spend most of their time on the ground.
This means that trail cameras are an ideal tool for bird watching as you don’t need to be near them or even see them at all!
In this article we’re going to talk about how trail cams work and where is best place them when bird watching so let’s get started!
- What is a trail camera and how does it work?
- Why would you want to use a trail cam for bird watching?
- How can I use my trail camera to watch birds?
- The best places to set up your trail cam for bird watching
- The biggest mistake people make when trail cam bird watching
- Other ways to watch birds without using a trail cam
What is a trail camera and how does it work?
A trail camera is a special type of digital camera designed to be set up out in the wild for extended periods of time. Trail cams can record video or still photographs and are activated either by motion or heat so you will only catch images of animals that pass within range. They tend to be small and relatively inexpensive, and they take high quality images – even nighttime shots!
The best thing about trail cameras is that you don’t need to see any birds at all. Simply place your camera where you know there’s bird activity and it’ll do the rest! You can use them as stationary cameras (great for trees or hides) or as handheld units (perfect for hiking).
Why would you want to use a trail cam for bird watching?
There are several reasons why trail cams make great tools for bird watchers.
For starters, they’re efficient. You can leave your trail cam out in the field for weeks or months without worrying about it. On the other hand, you’ll probably only get one chance to see any given bird (or whatever creature is causing your camera to take pictures).
Trail cameras capture countless images of wildlife over long periods of time, allowing you to enjoy watching them even when you don’t have time to go bird watching yourself!
Also, trail cams allow you to cover vast areas all at once. For example, if there’s a grain silo 20 miles away that birds love checking out then simply place a trail cam near it and you’ll never miss out on the action.
By far the most valuable reason to use trail cams for bird watching is that they offer a wholly different perspective on bird behavior! Most people don’t realize just how much ground birds cover, but trails cams allow you to follow them as they go about their days coming and going with ease.
Now it’s time for us to touch upon some of the amazing ways that you can actually watch wild birds using your trail cam! Read on to see what we mean…
How can I use my trail camera to watch birds?
One of the best (and coolest) things about using your trail cam for bird watching is that you can capture unique images no other bird watcher will ever get! Most people are content with just seeing the birds themselves – after all, their bright feathers and soaring forms are things of beauty in and of themselves! But you can do so much more!
For example, have you ever wondered what it looks like when a bird lands on a branch? Or where they sleep? How about how they interact with one another – do only the big ones get to eat while the little birds watch from afar or is there some other reason behind why this happens? You can use your trail cam to find out. There’s almost no limit to what you might learn using nothing but your eyes glued to your screen.
Simply place your camera near an area frequented by birds, activate it (motion or heat) and enjoy!
Now that you know about how trail cameras work and how they can benefit your bird watching activities let’s look at some of the most popular ways that people are using them!
The best places to set up your trail cam for bird watching
Perhaps the most popular place to use your trail cam for watching birds is in a forest where they tend to visit very regularly. Birds love eating bugs, so you know that if there’s an abundance of them then you’ll definitely have something interesting to capture on camera! By placing your trail cam far enough into the woods that it doesn’t spook any animals but not so deep that it misses all of the action you can get shots no one else will ever see – just be sure to have it facing the right direction first! Don’t forget about using camouflage too (like on this list).
Near water sources
You might think that water would scare off wildlife because of how loud and large bodies of water are, but that’s not actually the case. Birds are smart enough to know how to skirt around water safely and still get their foods so you’ll want to make sure your trail cam is in a location where they can’t miss it. By placing it near a river or lake you’ll capture fantastic images of many kinds of birds without ever having to enter the woods!
Near farms or crops
We’ve all seen countless pictures of scarecrows on farms, but have you ever wondered what might be lurking behind them? Well now you can find out by using your trail cam to take pictures! You might catch some other creatures too like raccoons who also enjoy strolling through fields for delicious fruits and veggies, so don’t let the idea of scaring other animals off keep you from setting up your trail cam here.
Near livestock (optional)
If you’re a farmer then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be using your trail cam to watch the flock too! You can easily set it up near or inside your barn and get some incredible footage of what goes on every night once the sun has gone down. Maybe you’ll catch birds looking for food, mice rustling through feed, or even alligators who like to make their way into cool waters after dark – either way, this is one strategy that will pay off hugely if done right so don’t discount it so quickly!
Inside your own home (or any building)
Speaking of doing things “right” there’s nothing stopping you from placing your trail cam inside any building that might be near birds. If you place it in the right spot then perhaps it can catch them landing on windowsills or trying to get into the house itself. There are so many possibilities here and because of this, people have had some really neat experiences with their cams!
Another strategy is to leave it running inside your own house while no one is home. You might capture some interesting footage of who knows what – maybe even an indoor bird watching opportunity? By viewing your trail cam footage online after this you’ll be able to tell if anything weird happened while you weren’t around!
This is a particularly good strategy for those who own pets since they’re always around, so you’ll know if any of them are up to something they shouldn’t be.
The biggest mistake people make when trail cam bird watching
Trail cams are an amazing tool for bird watching and should only be viewed as such! The problem is that people tend to get caught up in it by ignoring other forms of observation like speaking with local wildlife officials or trying to look for birds without cameras at all.
By avoiding these things the whole experience becomes sub-optimal because you never truly appreciate what goes into hunting or trapping birds like this – it’s better than not using trail cams at all though!
Other ways to watch birds without using a trail cam
Trail cams are an excellent tool for watching birds but they aren’t the only method available to you. No matter what your level of bird watching ability or interest, there is definitely something out there for you.
Below are some ways that won’t require using a trail cam, though do note that these things can be used in combination because no one strategy works for everyone! It’s best to play around with all of them and figure out which ones work best for you:
Plant feeders near your back porch (or front if it faces the right direction)
Feeding wild birds doesn’t take much effort and can go really well if done properly. It also doesn’t hurt to place it on your front porch (which might be better since it will likely have a bigger audience) so you can easily watch them from inside your home.
This is an excellent way to get up close and personal with birds, especially if you happen to own a boat or live near a body of water that’s been designated as “fishing only.” Once you start getting good at it then the whole process becomes meditative and extremely rewarding for those who like to focus on aspects like patience and mindfulness.
If this sounds too gruesome then we completely understand – we’re not trying to force anything on anyone! Do take note though that hunting isn’t as bad as some people make it out to be (like PETA tends to) and can actually be a very nice change of pace for those who might otherwise get stuck in the same routine. The important part is to focus on where you source your meat so it’s fresh and ethical – that makes all the difference!
Look for birds through spotters or online at birdwatching apps
When cameras aren’t nearby then maybe spotting birds will do the trick instead? This requires more effort than just looking through trail cam footage but can be extremely rewarding because it lets you interact with other people as well as look up information about different species.
You’ll also find yourself learning new things at every moment which helps keep boredom away, plus it’s healthier than staring aimlessly at a screen like this (no matter what their benefits are).
Go on a hike (optional)
Hikes are one of the most recommended activities for people who like to spend time in nature but aren’t necessarily into bird watching or hiking itself. You don’t even have to do this inside parks, since there is plenty of wildlife outside of them too!
The more effort you put into it then the more rewarding your experience will be as well so if that sounds good then definitely go for it – just remember to take some water and snacks with you first.
There are tons of other strategies out there as well. Some might work better than others for certain people but as long as you’re being active and engaged in your environment then you can experience great things no matter what path(s) you choose.
Trail cams are one of the best tools out there for passive bird watching so definitely try them out if you haven’t already! You can look up other types of cameras as well but this is what’s most commonly used so it’s a good place to start.
Just remember that no matter how much time you spend with trail cameras or otherwise, nothing beats being in nature yourself and truly understanding everything around you.
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