Royal Oaks Country Club educates using a special camera

The bird cam project is an inexpensive and fun way to promote environmental awareness.

Alan Nielsen, CGCSRoyal Oaks Country Club
Royal Oaks Country Club, Vancouver, Wash.
Published date: November 2006

Royal Oaks Country Club is an 18-hole traditional golf course located on 150 acres. At least 12 acres are natural corridors for wildlife enhancement. The club is a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary and follows the Audubon International’s standards for environmental management. Our Audubon committee approved a bird cam project to monitor the arrival and life cycle of swallows in the spring of 2005. The project’s primary purpose was to:

  • Provide education on birds and the stewardship efforts of the club
  • Gain club member involvement
  • Promote wildlife awareness on the golf course
  • Educate members about the programs instituted through our Audubon membership
  • Complement our 28 existing bird boxes located across the property

Setting up the bird camRoyal Oaks Country Club

For this project, we purchased a mini camera and transmitter. Both were installed in a nesting box. The video signal was transmitted to a receiver in the clubhouse and shown on a monitor in the members’ lounge. Club members could observe birds building their nests, laying eggs, incubating, hatching and feeding their young. Thanks to this project, members got the opportunity to learn about the habits of birds and their natural cycles for laying, incubating, hatching, feeding, and fledging.

Overcoming challenges and obstacles

The bird box is located 400 feet from the main lounge. Our first challenge was to get power to the location. We were able to use our irrigation power source to power the camera. Our second challenge was to build a box that would accommodate the camera. Lighting was limited in the existing bird box and focusing the camera was a challenge. After experimenting with different designs, we built a taller box to accommodate the best focal length and allow for better lighting conditions. Our third challenge was experimenting with our receiver location to maximize the best reception. The total setup cost was approximately $200. We used a Swann Nighthawk wireless outdoor camera from Radio Shack that costs around $150. The camera’s light source has 12 infrared LEDs. The power requirement is 50 milliamps per hour at eight volts. The wiring for the project only cost $50. The monitor was donated. Jerry and Donna Schwanke, our project managers, donated and built the bird box.

A success story

For a very low cost we were able to provide educational opportunities for wildlife and environmental stewardship efforts, and promote member involvement. Our members and their children enjoyed viewing the life cycle of swallows  and thought our wildlife camera was interesting, educational, and entertaining. Learn more about the Royal Oaks Country Club.