I was pretty excited about the opportunity to do a little more “wildlife photography” in my back yard. The blackbird pair that I featured in the video “Learning to Fly” came back for another brood. I saw one of them fly into the ivy that climbs one side of our house and grabbed a closer look using a ladder. There I saw a clutch of 5 blue eggs.
So I hung a lavalier mic and a round webcam – with a $10 USB extension cord – from a nail in the eaves and waited. Eventually a couple of the eggs hatched and the show began. While blackbirds typically have multiple broods per season, August is quite late. Then again it has been pretty warm.
The only problem with my setup was that the power switch for the microphone was up high, so I needed a ladder to switch it on – which scared away the adult birds. So I ended up doing most of the video captures without sound. I did manage to get a pretty long piece when they were feeding – that was cool. But in the end I managed to get a little every day, and capture how the little birds gradually start trying to get out of the nest. Blackbirds typically spend a week or so on the ground before they can fly, and the adults (typically the male) continue to feed them until they can fly properly. I got good shots of both adults feeding the young, as well as some nest-cleaning activity.
In the end, what would I do differently? Besides getting a better webcam, that is (some of the shots were blurry due to frame rate and auto-focus not reacting quickly enough).
– Clear away enough leaves so that the camera gets a clear shot. I fixed this partway through.
– Find a place for the camera so that you (a) get enough light but (b) don’t have a lot of backlight. Had I chosen a better angle, there would have been better detail on the nest itself.
The trick with this kind of photo/videography is patience. I was lucky to have a place where the camera could be out of the elements, but hanging up there on a ladder screwing a hook into hard wood, you have to be willing to try the shot and then move the camera if it doesn’t work. Oh well, there’s always next season. The result?