The most time consuming part of our job is watching all of the video that we have gathered over the course of this summer. The rest of the time we are going out, setting up, and maintaining the cameras to get the videos. What does this fully entail?
It all starts with nest dragging. We hook the two four-wheelers together with a 150 foot chain and drive parallel with each other until we search an entire plot. When a bird has the chain dragged over them while they are on the nest, they flush off. While driving the four-wheelers, we spot the birds as they flush and we go search for the nest. The better the visual on where the bird gets up, the better chance we have at finding the nest.
The next step is setting up the cameras. We only set the cameras up on blue-winged teal & mallards and we only set them up if they have laid all their eggs and have begun incubation. We wait until they have begun incubation because the hen might abandon if we set it up in the laying stage of nesting. This is because of the investment the hen has put into it; the more time and energy she has put into the nest, the more likely she is to stay at that nest unless the eggs are destroyed. The camera is placed near the nest (pictured above) and a cable is ran to a box and battery roughly 60-80 feet away (pictured below). The battery contains a DVR box that holds an SD card to save the video footage on. After the camera and DVR box has been plugged into the battery to run, we plug our tote vision in to see what the camera is recording to make sure it is at the right angle and distance away from the nest.
The final step is maintenance. The SD cards fill up with all the video files in 3-5 days as well as the battery drains within that same time frame. In order to continuously film, we replace these out every 3-4 days for the entire incubation period. We bring extra batteries and SD cards with us when we nest drag and go to the cameras to replace them once we are done. We take the filled up SD cards back to the house and upload the files onto the Wildlife@Home page to give an outreach for citizens to do science and the exciting videos we share on our social media pages and they are also uploaded onto the Ducks Unlimited page dedicated for this project as well!