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 we’re 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 of their eggs and have begun incubation. We wait until they are incubating because the hen has invested enough energy and time into the nest that she is less likely to abandon it which happens if she feels threatened early in the laying stage of nesting. 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 of the video files in 3-5 days as well as the battery drains within that same time frame. In order to continuously film, we switch both of 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!