The Nest Box: DIY Springwatch with Raspberry Pi

Last week, lots and lots of you shared your Raspberry Pi builds with us on social media using the hashtag #IUseMyRaspberryPiFor. Jay Wainwright from Liverpool noticed the conversation and got in touch to tell us about The Nest Box, which uses Raspberry Pi to bring impressively high-quality images and video from British bird boxes to your Facebook feed.

Jay runs a small network of livestreaming nest box cameras, with three currently sited and another three in the pipeline; excitingly, the new ones will include a kestrel box and a barn owl box! During the spring, all the cameras stream live to The Nest Box’s Facebook page, which has steadily built a solid following of several thousand wildlife fans.

A pair of blue tits feeds their chicks in a woolly nest

The Nest Box’s setup uses a Raspberry Pi and Camera Module, along with a Raspberry Pi PoE HAT to provide both power and internet connectivity, so there’s only one cable connection to weatherproof. There’s also a custom HAT that Jay has designed to control LED lights and to govern the Raspberry Pi Camera Module’s IR filter, ensuring high-quality images both during the day and at night. To top it all off, he has written some Python code to record visitors to the nest boxes and go into live streaming mode whenever the action is happening.

As we can see from this nest box design for swifts, shown on the project’s crowdfunding profile, plenty of thought has evidently been put into the design of the boxes so that they provide tempting quarters for their feathered occupants while also accommodating all the electronic components.

Follow The Nest Box on Facebook to add British birds into your social media mix — whatever you’ve got now, I’ll bet all tomorrow’s coffees that it’ll be an improvement. And if you’re using Raspberry Pi for a wildlife project, or you’ve got plans along those lines, let us know in the comments.

12 comments

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Has anyone considered whether putting the bulk of the electronics UNDER the nesting area would make for a slightly warmer, more pleasant environment – particularly on cooler nights?

I have absolutely no clue whether ‘central heating’ for nest boxes is a good idea but I bet there’s an expert out there who’d know. Any comments?

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Not a bad idea, especially if you run a pi 4! Cold night? Start stressing the CPU to warm the birds up ?

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What kind of light does this bird box use? I use IR LEDs as I think white LEDs would disturb the birds. Am I wrong? Using only IR LEDs gives me just monochrome images.
http://www.nevilley.org.uk:8084

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any problems with moisture and the pi at this time of year?. What are people housing the Pi in?.

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Hi Rick, I use many things to put my pis in.
You can see them on my webpage at http://www.nevilley.org.uk/cameras/cameras.php

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Thanks – very interesting.

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A FAN ??? Wouldn’t the birds find the noise disturbing?

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Nothing to do with RPi’s, but I have repeatedly had small birds nesting in a couple of exhausts from kitchen fan extracters, and they ignore both the noise and the stream of warm air.

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I am just embarking on a similar project (my first) after watching several birds set up house in our Garden this spring! When there is no activity I would like to keep power consumption down to a minimum. Any tips on how to achieve this? Also, ideally I would like to be able to boot and power down over LAN via ethernet with the POE hat. Some quick research indicates I won’t be able to achieve this. Can anyone confirm this?

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Our discussion forums are the best place to ask this kind of thing – many more people will see your question there.

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Hi Helen
i wanted to cre<te a camera with raspberry module and poe hat. what i need exactly for it ?
– model pi 3 b+
– camera module
– poe hat
then my question is, with poe hat can i use it for power supply of all module ? so also for pi 3 b+ too and camera module ?
do you know some link with similar project please ?
thank you in advance

Vincenzo

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The best place to look and ask for advice is our forums – we can’t provide support or advice for individual projects (there aren’t enough of us!), but other people in the community might well be able to help. See the PoE HAT page for information about the device, including compatibility.

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