An economical wireless cavity-nest viewer
Inspection of cavity nests and nest boxes is often required during studies of cavity-nesting birds, and fiberscopes and pole-mounted video cameras are sometimes used for such inspection. However, the cost of these systems may be prohibitive for some potential users. We describe a user-built, wireless cavity viewer that can be used to access cavities as high as 15 m and with entrance diameters as small as 2.5 cm. System components include a wireless camera, boom with near-infrared lighting system, hand-held television, and telescoping pole. The unit can be assembled in about one day with commonly available tools, and the total cost was about $850 (US). Our cavity-viewing system was used to monitor the nests of Western Bluebirds (Sialia mexicana) and proved to be reliable and effective. During two field seasons, we attempted to check the status of nests 928 times and were able to determine the nesting stage 901 times (97%). For those willing to assemble their own units, our cavity viewer permits safe, direct examination of cavity nests or open nests for investigators with limited budgets.