Although having a visible outdoor security system is a good way to deter criminals, cameras that can be seen are open to all types of damage – vandalism, theft, and weather damage. So, you might decide that you’d rather not have your outdoor security cameras easily visible to people walking by.
Some burglars can scout out a potential robbery site for days before they intend to strike. If they know where the cameras are they will be able to either avoid them or disable them.
Many people decide to use both hidden and observable cameras. The cameras that are in plain view act as a deterrent and the hidden “spy” cameras are still able to capture the crime even when the obvious cameras are discovered and disabled.
There are a number of ways to conceal outdoor security cameras, but an all-time favorite is a camera in the birdhouse trick. A birdhouse is a great place to conceal an outdoor security camera. The design makes concealment easy. It also provides great protection from the elements. You can mount a birdhouse on a tree, on a post, or against a wall. If you have a wireless camera system, you can place them nearly anywhere which means that the coverage of your property is greatly extended.
Hiding a camera in something like a birdhouse also keeps your property looking natural and aesthetically pleasing. And guests arriving at your house don’t need to feel intimidated by being “watched”!
Before you decide to hide your security camera inside a birdhouse there are a few things you need to know.
Pre-Made or DIY?
This is entirely up to you. There are many different designs of birdhouses, and you could go out and find one that suits your requirements. You might need to do a bit of modification, but the basic structure will be right there for you. There are even birdhouses made specifically to house security cameras.
If you are feeling more like a project, the DIY route is for you. It’s a cheaper option and seeing as a birdhouse doesn’t need much wood, you are likely to find enough materials lying around the shed or workshop. So instead of cheaper, it’s even better, it free!
What Size and Type of Camera Should You Buy?
The smaller the camera, the easier it is to hide. Buy a small spy security camera if you are wishing to conceal it.
If you are satisfied with a standard definition image and you’re not looking for anything particularly fancy, the cheap cameras will be fine for you. They don’t come with great HD and the images are black and white. Paying a bit more will get you a camera with better image quality as well as the ability to connect to your Smartphone.
Where do you want to be able to watch the recordings from your security camera? Most basic setups will allow you to watch the live images on your television. If you add a capture device, you will be able to record and watch the images on your PC. The more advanced cameras let you watch on your Smartphone or tablet.
Small spy cameras are generally wireless, so they are easy to place and easy to move if necessary. They also have built-in audio recording and night vision capabilities so any activity at night will not be missed. Analog wireless security cameras have a range of up to about 30 meters. Be aware that there can be interference from other devices which might affect the images or recordings.
Wired cameras are generally more reliable and usually have better image quality. They often cost a bit less too. There is the inconvenience of the cabling, however with cables, you get can increase the distance of the camera from the power source. The cables will also need to be concealed. Your birdhouse might need a bit of modification in order to run the cabling through it.
Wi-Fi security cameras are able to provide high-definition digital images with no risk of interference. You simply connect the security camera to your wi-fi network. You can watch the images on your Smarphone, PC, or tablet. With an app, you can watch wherever there is a wi-fi connection.
A birdhouse, as opposed to a birdfeeder, is an enclosed space with only a small hole in the front. The whole of the camera’s body can be covered while the lens peeps through the hole. There is no loss of sight lines – the security camera has an unimpeded view of the surroundings you wish to survey.
If you are mounting the birdhouse on a tree or near bushes, you might need to do a bit of a garden trim back to make sure that no leaves or branches are in the way of the lens.
Another thing you might want to keep in mind is where the bird nesting sites are in your garden. If you set up a birdhouse camera housing during the breeding season you can cause adults to abandon their babies. Make sure you install the camera birdhouse when you’re sure no prospecting birds are likely to visit it.
Make sure that you set up the birdhouse in a fairly sheltered spot preferably not facing the direction of oncoming storms.
Take note of how far away from the house you wish to set up the camera housing. Remember that wireless cameras only have a certain range. Wireless or not wireless your camera will need a power source – you will need to make sure that you have enough cabling to run to your television, PC, or network router.
What Type of Birdhouse to Choose?
You will need to have access to your security camera. Make sure that the roof of your birdhouse is easy to remove. This makes installation much easier too.
The size of the box will be determined by the size of the camera you have bought. Make sure there is enough room to house the camera with a little room on each side so that you can fit your hand in and around the camera to remove, clean, or replace it as the needs arise.
There are so many designs of birdhouses that you might find it difficult to choose between them. This is where you can be as whimsical or practical as you wish to be – a plain and simple wooden box or an elaborately decorated little abode. If you prefer not to draw attention to the birdhouse, keep it ordinary looking. If you want to camouflage it, find one that is either painted like foliage or in camo. Otherwise, you can paint it yourself according to where you mount it. If you are mounting it in a tree, you can paint it brown to match the bark or green to match the leaves. If you are mounting it against a house or wall, you can disguise it by painting it the same color as the surface against which it will lie.
The most important consideration is the size of the hole in the front of the birdhouse. This needs to be big enough for the camera lens to fit comfortably through but not too big that there is room around the lens for bugs, spiders, or small rodents – or birds – to enter the house.
All security cameras need a source of power. There is the option to run them from batteries, but this is not recommended. Battery life can be a bit low, and they will require changing regularly. The most reliable way of powering your securing camera will be by the mains power supply.
Extension cables are not too expensive, and they can be buried underground and run from the mains to the birdhouse thus keeping the aesthetics of the yard intact as well as protecting them from theft.
Another workable solution is to buy a camera that can be powered over Ethernet. This means that the camera gets its power from a network data cable. This requires a bit of know-how to set up but if you are not too technologically challenged, this option could work well for you.
If you have a security camera that requires Wi-Fi you will need to make sure that you have enough signal strength to reach the camera way out in the garden. There are ways to extend the range of your Wi-Fi network. If your router is at the front of your house and you wish the Wi-Fi to extend to the backyard, plug a Wi-Fi extender into a plug point that is closest to the backyard. It will amplify and boost the Wi-Fi signal into the yard to cover the whole area. A few of the best Wi-Fi extenders are:
- The DrayTek VigorAP 920R
- Mikrotik NetMetal ac2 Outdoor Extender
- The TP-Link CPE510
Can I Build My Own Birdhouse?
Of course! If you are handy and feeling a bit brave, go ahead and make the camera housing yourself. It will be a fun project and give you bragging rights afterward.
It is not an easy thing to build a security camera birdhouse and if you are going to do it yourself, don’t skimp! Remember, the better looking the birdhouse, the less likely it will be for burglars to spot that it is, in fact, a camera housing. Make sure you have all the tools and materials you will need right at the start so that you aren’t left in the middle of the project, having to go out and purchase odds and ends. This just makes the whole process frustrating, and it takes a longer time to complete.
How to Build Your Own Birdhouse Security Camera Housing
Gather your materials
Wood is the best material to use when constructing a birdhouse. Make sure that you purchase the correct amount of wood for your project. If you don’t have the tools to cut the pieces at home, ask the hardware shop if they have the facilities to do it for you. If you want to save a bit of money – and who doesn’t – you could probably find the pieces of wood you need lying around in your shed. Maybe a neighbor has some scrap pieces of wood he wouldn’t mind giving you – it’s worth asking.
You will need nails and wood glue to secure the pieces of wood together. Other materials that you will need to gather together are a tape measure, drill with hole saw bits, clamps, a saw, a speed square, paint, and a paintbrush. You might also need a bracket to attach the camera to the lid of the birdhouse.
Building the Birdhouse
It’s rather like fitting Lego together except now you are gluing or nailing the pieces together. Drill the hole for the lens in the front section. Make sure the hole is big enough for the camera but not too big that actual birds (or small rodents) can come in and nest there. You might need to place a bit of sealant around the hole if you want a tight seal against insects – especially wasps, who are always looking for a quiet safe place to set up house.
If your camera is not wireless, make sure that you drill a hole through which you can feed the cables.
Make sure the roof fits securely and is waterproof. If you wish, you can place hinges onto the lid for easy flip-up action.
Installing the Camera
Before you start the whole installation process, check that the camera is working. It is easier to sort out any teething problems before the camera is secure in its housing. First, check that the camera is working inside the house before taking it outside into the yard and checking it there.
If you buy a birdbox that is made for a camera it will have brackets in the box for you to use to attach the camera to the roof of the birdhouse. You will need a few small screws to attach it to the lid. First, attach the bracket and then secure the security camera.
If you are worried that the light levels inside the box during the day might not be good enough, and you wish to enhance the images, you can install an LED lamp.
Mounting the Birdhouse
Secure your birdhouse to the surface you have chosen using screws. If you are placing the birdhouse on a pole, make sure the house is centered on the pole and secure it using both glue and nails to make sure it is strong enough to endure winds and storms.
We hope that you will have great success in finding or building a birdhouse that can house your security camera – a fun, effective way to make sure your equipment is safe so that it can do its job of keeping you safe!