Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Owls Return After Nest Box Maintenance

Last Sunday, December 16, I brought the screech owl nest box down, removed the long-since unnecessary owlet rail in order to discourage squirrels, and gave the camera windows and compartment interiors a thorough cleaning, so the cameras could acquire clear pictures again. Also, as part of my eternal, and perpetually failing, quest to eliminate hum in the audio signal, I added some ferromagnetic cores (AKA chokes) around various internal wires I thought might be susceptible to picking up electrical noise and feeding it back into the system.

(At first the ferromagnetic cores seemed to have done the trick; now I know they haven't. So, the score stands at unwanted, intermittent audio noise: ≈10 years; Chris: zero. I'd scream if it would make me feel any better, but at this point I think sinking into deep depression is the way to go. That and ripping every piece of analog electronics out of the system and replacing it with digital gear; but that's still somewhat expensive, and public university salaries are somewhere between poor and disgraceful here in Texas, and, not being adjusted for inflation, they only get worse. Still, I'm better off than a lot of my fellow Americans, which is a sad commentary, right there.)

This nest box work was motivated by the acquisition of a new S2071 unit from SuperCircuits to replace the two previous units (one purchased, one generously loaned by SuperCircuits) that had bricked themselves during the nesting season. SuperCircuits has been great about replacing the gear with no hassles about my tardiness in returning the original equipment, but neither they nor I have any clue what the problem is/was, so whether the new unit will do any better than its predecessors, I have no idea, though things aren't encouraging thus far. The manufacturer, 3S Vision Systems has, of late, been unresponsive to elementary queries about obtaining the latest firmware. So, I haven't even had the chance to try to obtain contacts with their engineers about the bugs in their RTP implementation (specifically the RTCP sub-protocol). That's all a shame, because, if it were reliable, it'd be a very useful unit to those of us still using analog closed-circuit video gear.

Anyway, with the box cleaned, the owlet rail gone, and an S2071 to constantly monitor the video feeds (and automatically record movies when it detects motion), I set about waiting for my owls to put in an appearance. Their interest in nest sites is proportional to the nearness of the next nesting season (or predators, or weather from which they need shelter), so their interest at the moment isn't high, but they are periodically checking-out the would-be nest cavities in their territory to make sure they're still available.

On December 18th, the owls finally put in not one, but two, appearances, as may be seen below. (Click the images to see the movies.)

December 18, 2012, 1:14 AM CST
22.6 MB MPEG-4 video.

December 18, 2012, 6:40 AM CST
18.3 MB MPEG-4 video.

So, if you're wondering whether the nest box cam’ will be returning next year, I think we can safely assume that it will (hum, or no hum).


  1. Welcome back feathered friends :)

  2. awwwww. thank you, Chris . . .doesn't take them long to spot the "for rent" sign, does it?

  3. Nice treat to see your box all cleaned up for visitors. Thanks for the lovely movies too.