Bird Reality

Bird Reality

In the next few weeks, I will be interviewing several exhibitors who will be at the NW Flower & Garden Show and telling you all about them. I hope that this will help you plan your show days more effectively as well as give you a heads-up on any special show promotions. Tell them Flora sent you!

I found this exhibitor to have a unique product, as well as a good marketing twist. They promote with the slogan: “Reality TV Comes to the Backyard”. Read on to find out why.

Flora – Who are you and what are you doing in my backyard? Just kidding. Tell me about backyard Reality TV.

Hawk Eye Nature Cam - Photo Courtesy of Birdhouse Spy CamRichard – We are Birdhouse Spy Cam. We provide cameras to mount within birdhouses and also sell birdhouses with cameras installed. You can watch them from your TV and the set-up is very easy. People are using them to watch all manner of birds, from Screech owls and falcons, to parrots and chickens. Customers are also using them to watch horses, goats, mink, and family pets. There’s even one down a rattlesnake den at a nature center in Canada. One fellow even put one of our earlier cameras in a bee hive.

Flora – Fun! And educational. Why did you develop this product and how many cameras do you have at your house?

Richard – I have half a dozen strung out in front and behind the house. Right now I’m mostly just watching a couple of hummingbirds that were too lazy (or clever) to migrate. And I started this as a hobby because we have a pair of Screech owls nesting behind our house. Every year we’d watch them going in and out, but had no idea what was going on inside. So I bought a security camera, drilled a hole in the top of the nest box, stuck the camera in and waited for the owls to return. What my wife, Suzanne, and I saw was incredible!

Flora – So you kept watching?

Richard – We aren’t hard core bird watchers, but we found ourselves glued to the TV as we watched the eggs hatch, and the parents begin the long, difficult task of feeding them. Be glad you weren’t born an owl parent! For example, the first week after the owlet’s hatched, the parents fed them nothing but moths. I didn’t know there were that many moths in the world! We counted and during a 45 minute period, one of the parents returned to the nest every 15 seconds and dropped a moth in. Pretty soon the bottom of the nest box was like something out of a horror movie. Seething in moths and a few worms. Then one of the parents would return and recapture and feed that night’s catch.

Flora – How have you improved your cameras?

Richard – In the course of four years I’ve kept making improvements, the final series of which resulted in the Hawk Eye, a thumb-sized video camera with color imagery, infrared night vision, microphone, weather shield, and 100′ of RCA cable. We sell the Hawk Eye singly and also mounted in several different birdhouses. I’m also adding to a line of accessories such as tripods, extension cables, and switch boxes for people who want to be able to hook up to four Hawk Eyes to a single television.

Flora – Speaking of a weather shield, is there any concern with the equipment and NW weather?

Richard – No concerns at all. Next week marks the fourth year I’ve had two cameras running 24/7. Of course, as with any electronics, the more protection people can give them, the better. Even with the weather shield, I encourage people to place it where it’s out of the rain and snow. A small 6″ square board or piece of plastic over the top will give it added protection and undoubtedly extend its life.

Flora – What has been the reaction to the cameras?

Richard – Surprisingly, it took a couple years for people to start grasping the idea of using a miniature video camera to watch birds and other wildlife. People just couldn’t wrap their minds around the idea. So, I spent a lot of time developing new packaging, sending out press releases, getting on TV, and even doing an occasional magazine article, to get the word out. Finally, things started to roll with retailers and catalogs (a big part of my sales) and people actually started calling me. My last shipment of cameras pretty much sold out within six weeks. In the past, it took 6-8 months.

Read testimonials from customers and make sure to visit Birdhouse Spy Cam in Booth# 2346.

Want to win a two-day pass to the NW Flower & Garden Show? Comment on this post up through 2/5/08. On 2/6/08 my kids will put all your names in a hat and draw a lucky winner!

  • Alan Kelly
    Posted at 06:39h, 01 February Reply

    You send me. Actually I smiled at the “tell them Flora sent you.”


    its reads like you’re busy, at least with in-person interviews. Are you a Do-It-Yourself, who transcribes them, too? Or, pray tell, something else, maybe a DIY’er who can do more writing, or personal time while someone (hint) who delivers the transcript to your inbox for you to preen, but not correct?

    Well, if that’s not a soft sell, I don’t know what is.

    Happy Feb 1

    Got bulbs?

    Alan 🙂 (the sun is out somewhere)

  • Flora
    Posted at 14:04h, 01 February Reply

    Thanks for the comment, Alan. I alas (clear throat) must retain some mystery so cannot answer all your questions but yes, I am an all-around gal. Glad I gave you a smile today. Flora

  • robin
    Posted at 12:50h, 04 February Reply

    Flora, thanks for sharing this. I wonder, did you and Richard discuss the problem of rats invading gardens with bird feeders & houses? Seattle has a horrible rat problem, and sadly I know that putting out bird seed and houses can provide food and shelter for these unwanted critters. Except for birds that feast on my garden’s nectar, insects and berries, I’m no longer putting out food for them because of the rat problems. *Sigh*

    And, I’d love to watch the bird TV, but I wonder if I’d just end up with Rat TV instead. *Sigh*…again!

  • Flora
    Posted at 17:16h, 04 February Reply

    Hi Robin
    Rat TV would be no fun-I agree. I did not discuss this with Richard but will email him and ask.

  • Flora
    Posted at 09:49h, 05 February Reply

    Here is Richard’s reply:

    “Have never heard of rats moving into birdhouses, but then again nothing should be a surprise in the adaptability of rats, raccoons, coyotes, and other urban wildlife.

    Rats certainly will eat seed that’s on the ground or in a flat, platform feeder. But, there are a number of feeders that are designed to keep squirrels at bay, and I would assume they’d word for rats too. Some, like the Squirrel Buster, are spring loaded so that the weight of a large animal such as a squirrel or even a rat, will pull a barrier down over the seed door, cutting off the supply. Others simply have a wire mesh tube, or globe surrounding the feeder with openings only large enough to all small chickadees, wrens, and nuthatches to get through to the seed.

    Then there are the truly high tech feeders such as the Droll Yankee Flipper, which spins when something like a squirrel — assume it would do the same with the weight of a rat — tries to step on it. Another feeder, the Squirrel-Off, has two metal rods running around the feeder. When squirrels or rats make contact, they get a mild shock. Birds’ feet are non-conductive, so they aren’t shocked.

    Pay a visit to your local bird shop or the Audubon Association and tell them your problem. I’m sure you’re not alone having this problem, and they might have the answer.

    Finally, and excuse me for asking, but are you certain it’s rats? All the seed on one of our Canadian customer’s seed platform kept disappearing during the night. He too though it might be rats, and so put out one of our cameras, turned on the VCR recorder, and went to bed. He discovered a pair of flying squirrels paying nightly visits. Those little guys could almost cram all the seed on his feeder into their cheek pouches.”

    Thanks Richard!

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