These are my impressions of the Wingscapes Birdcam 2.0 motion-activated digital camera. This is a weatherproof, digital camera that you set up outdoors (or indoors) to take photos or videos (with audio). The camera takes images automatically when there is movement in front of the lens. It’s a great way to get candid photos of birds or wildlife.
I purchased the Birdcam several months ago so I’ve been able to test it continually through winter and spring. (And yes, I totally love it, even though it’s by no means a top quality camera—you’ll see the pros and cons below.)
I have wanted one of these Birdcams (see it at Amazon) for years, ever since I saw it demonstrated on Martha Stewart’s show. When they were first introduced, they were too expensive to consider but now the cost has come way down. It’s priced like a low-end point and click camera.
While I bought the Birdcam intending to get images and video of birds at our bird feeders, after a few days of testing it, I thought up a whole bunch more ways to use it. In fact, I kinda wish I had several of them…
Additional Uses For A Birdcam (my short list)
- Chicken coop cam (what goes on in the coop, anyways?)
- Squirrel cam (mount it on a tree)
- Bird nest cam (collect images from hatching to fledging)
- Night wildlife cam (the unit has a flash so it could get skunks, possums, raccoons —any night visitors)
- Time lapse photography – indoors or out – catch a whole season of your garden
- Home security (to get images of anyone approaching your home)
- Family room timelapse cam
What I Purchased
- Wingscapes Birdcam 2.0 | See it at Amazon
- A mounting arm (for attaching it to my bird feeder) | See it at Amazon
- A 4 gb memory card | See it at Amazon (That’s the maximum gb it can use. It’s the same card you use in regular cameras). You can also use a 4 gb Eye-Fi SD card to transmit images wirelessly | See it at Amazon.
- 4 D-cell batteries | See it at Amazon.
Advanced BirdCam 2.0 Features
This is from the packaging:
The BirdCam 2.0 is packed with advanced features that expand your bird photography options.
- In addition to the motion-sensitive mode (referred to as AUTO mode), the BirdCam 2.0 can take digital photos or videos at a specific time interval (TIMELAPSE mode) or be used as a regular digital camera (MANUAL mode).
- The Setup menu includes “EASY” photo and video programs which will handle most backyard applications.
- If you want more control, the Setup menu lets you program Photo or Video, Photo Resolution, Delay, Number of Images per Event, Time/Date/Location imprint, Sensitivity of the infrared sensor, Erase Images and Diagnostic Test.
- These controls provide flexibility that is helpful when using the BirdCam 2.0 for different types of bird photography.
- Photo Format: JPG files, High 3264×2448, Med 2024×1536, Low 1024×768
- Video Format: AVI files, 640×480
- Image Output: USB OUT, TV OUT, SD Card (optional)
- Operational Modes: Auto/Timelapse Delay: Variable: No Delay – Daily
- Built-in Memory: 32 MB
- Auto Timelapse Delay Variable: No Delay – Daily
- Lens Field of View: 52 degrees
- Focus: 18 inches – infinity
- Infrared Sensor: Yes, smart sensor ignores feeder movement
- Power Supply: 4 D-cell Batteries
- Battery Life: 12 weeks average
- Laser Aim: Yes
Where I Setup The Birdcam
I setup the Birdcam by my Squirrel Buster feeder. This is a tube feeder that accommodates the smaller birds. Anything heavier than a small Blue Jay will cause the feeder to close, blocking access to the seed. So, most of my photos are currently of the little birds—various Sparrows, Finches, Nuthatches, Juncos… (and a few hopeful intruders).
During the summer months I hope to set it up on the feeder for the larger birds as well as night-time wildlife action with the automatic flash.
Why This Is Not A Great Camera
- I do not speak photography language so forgive my lack of terminology. While the camera is completely reliable for capturing images, the quality of the actual images is hit and miss. Mainly my issue is with the focus: the birds in the image may or may not be in clear focus.
- There also seems to be a directional bias. Birds in one area generally get clear focus. A bird the same distance from the camera but on the other side of the feeder may be blurry. It’s as if the lens has very specific aim but not great peripheral vision (again, I don’t know photography lingo, but that’s how I’d describe it.)
- I started using the Birdcam in the winter months and didn’t really realize how dismal the light was until I had spring photos to compare them with. I can’t really blame this one on the camera but perhaps my location on the planet is the culprit. I always lighten my photos in Photoshop Elements anyways, no matter what camera they’re from.
- I have my Birdcam set to take quite a few photos (5 photos for each bird visit, 10 minute intervals) and every so often a photo comes out like this:
I have no idea why this happens and truly, it doesn’t matter since it’s taking so many other good photos/videos, but it is odd.
Why I Love Having The Birdcam
The Birdcam allows me to get close, candid shots I would never otherwise get. I usually change to SD card every few days (I have two SD cards so I can swap them out), unless it’s been really active and the memory card is getting full (the display on the screen tells you how many images taken/capacity and battery status).
Each time I check the photos I see something new such as:
- New migrations coming through the area that I wasn’t aware of
- Funny interactions between the birds that I would otherwise never see
- Unusual traits or conditions of the birds
- How many ways the squirrels try to fool the Squirrel Buster
- Mystery birds I have never seen before
Besides witnessing the day-to-day activities at the bird feeder that I would otherwise miss, the images also keep a record over time. For example, on the left you (below) you see the male goldfinches in the winter when their colours are mostly dull but starting to change. In the photo on the right, taken just weeks later, the bright yellow colour (to attract mates) has appeared.
Once in a while a mystery bird shows up. This one happened to be photographed at an odd angle where it looked like the bill had a white stripe on it. I emailed it to a birding friend and, in consultation with one of her bird mentors, determined it was probably a Tufted Titmouse. I knew some of these birds were in my area but I had never seen one before.
Here’s two of the most interesting (to me) photos. This first goldfinch has a broken bill:
This next American Goldfinch (below) became my sweet companion over the past few months. I have no idea why there’s a stray feather on his head, but he also has evidence of some disease(s), he’s underweight, and nearly blind. He never leaves the feeder when the other birds are scared away by something. I’m quite in love with him.
Using Photoshop Elements To Improve Birdcam Images
I use Adobe Photoshop Elements to clean up just about every photo I post, no matter which camera it’s from. The Birdcam images are almost always a bit dark. I use the histogram to adjust the oomph of the colours and boost the light brightness.
- The Birdcam uses 4 D-cell batteries (not rechargeable ones). You can also buy an adapter to plug it into a nearby electrical outlet (within ten feet).
- My first set of new batteries lasted one month of constant use. The second set lasted over two months, probably due to the quality of the actual batteries.
Examples of Birdcam Videos and Audio
Here’s some video (with audio) and photos from my Birdcam. The video was taken during the winter so the light is quite dull.
This is fun timelapse from Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada using the version of this camera made for long timelapse photography (see it on Amazon).
- If you’re looking for a really good quality, automatic camera, this is not it. Eventually I’m sure there will be HD video and better auto-focus.
- But, if you want something really affordable that captures automatic or timelapse photos and video (with audio) outdoors all year round, this is an excellent choice.
- Most of the photos will benefit from some light adjustment in a photo editor such as Photoshop Elements, or free programs such as Picmonkey or Gimp.
- This would be a great gift for anyone who loves birdwatching and amateur bird photography.
- I’m definitely pleased that I bought mine (see it at Amazon). Check local birdfeed shops to buy one locally.
If you have any questions let me know.