Archive for May, 2011

FinchCam: Gory Tech Details

Note: A loyal reader asked for “gory tech details” on the FinchCam setup, and I was happy to oblige.

FinchCam consists of a Logitech Webcam Pro 9000, the motion-detect software that came with the webcam, a 30-foot USB extension cable, and my laptop.

I initially considered the Logitech Webcam Pro 9000 after seeing footage from The Animal Detector blog. They use an older version of this webcam, and the quality is pretty incredible. When my friend K (who thoroughly researches all of his electronics purchases, unlike me) said that he’d also been wanting one, I was sold! It retails for $79.99, but you can get it for under $50 on Amazon.

The webcam is mounted to the roof over our deck with a combination of strapping (for the cam) and staples (for the USB cable). John mounted it all and it’s been working great! The photos below are looking up at the underside of the roof over our deck. I extend the cable to the webcam with a 30-foot USB extension. It just comes through the nearest slider (in our kitchen), and connects to my laptop, which is sitting on the kitchen table. The setup works perfectly except that the USB extension (I think) is a little finicky, so I have to be careful not to jostle the connection to my computer or it breaks the connection enough that the webcam won’t work. When that happens, I just disconnect and reconnect it. I haven’t figured out how to prevent that problem yet (even though I’ve routed the cable so there’s no pulling on either end).

I use the software that came with the webcam, and I have no complaints. There are options you can set for the camera zoom and positioning (so it doesn’t have to be perfect when you set it up), and for the motion detection. Click for larger versions of the screencaps below.

When I want to spy on the nest, I can view it in real time through the webcam interface, just like you see in the screencaps. And yes, I waited until the dad was in the nest to take them. 🙂 I have the motion detection set on “low,” which is actually the highest sensitivity. It’s taken 48 videos so far today, and over half of those are just the babies moving around. But if I decrease the sensitivity, I capture less of the beginning and end of the feedings when there isn’t as much motion.

Hope this helps out!

FinchCam: Video of Baby House Finches

After spotting the house finch nest in our deck the other night, we promptly set up the web cam in motion-detect mode so we could watch the action without disturbing the little guys. Here’s some video from the first day.


We have a few spots under and around our deck where birds like to nest, and John has made the nesting spots more hospitable by boxing them in a bit to provide additional protection. We were sitting at our kitchen table a little while ago discussing the Rapture, and we heard a distinctive sound. Guess who’s arrived?


Three baby finches! I think jolie laide applies here, with the emphasis on laide! 🙂 You can click the photo to enlarge, and admire the ring of crap around the nest in all its oozing glory. Seriously, it’s kind of mesmerizing…

Apropos of nothing, here’s how I spent my evenings on our recent coastal camping trip. You’ll have to imagine a nice glass of red wine in the cupholder of my camp chair to get the full effect.