Baby Monitors for the Birds
Charlie Grindstaff, Certified Indian Trail Master Naturalist
Recently I asked my best friend what she would like for her upcoming birthday (she being of an age where another dust collecting figurine is out of the question and now reading books on her cell phone so that option was out, also). She replied that she would like a microphone at the birdfeeder outside her window so that on cold, wintry days she could hear the birdsong inside her home. I blithely assumed they make such things and set out to find one. Yes, they do make them, but no one sells a model locally that I can afford. My search moved to the internet, where I found others looking for similar items and then I found a great suggestion. You could use a baby monitor. I rushed out to buy one and sure enough, some are wireless, have quite long ranges, can transmit through windows and best of all, are within my price range. I must admit as soon as I arrived home I opened the package, placed the transmitter outdoors near my birdfeeders, turned it on and by the time I walked back inside, the birds were chirping inside my home. My dog cocked its head and was very confused that she couldn’t locate the birds. Carefully I repacked the unit, purchased a clear plastic shoe box and gave both to my friend. For some protection against the elements we attached the bottom of the shoe box upside down to a branch above her feeder and then aimed the transmitter downward at the feeder, attached it inside the box, turned it on and went inside to listen. It works well. We don’t know how long the batteries will last but the weather will be nice enough soon that she can have her window open and not need the monitor again till next winter.
So that made me wonder what else could be repurposed. While walking in a tool store I saw a display of wireless inspection cameras. It is a small handheld monitor with a very small light and camera at the end of a three foot tube for use by mechanics to check inside engines for cracks, pitting and leaks. I instantly thought about my bird house and slipping the camera inside the hole to count eggs, or slipping it inside a decaying log to look for critters, or down a burrow. The possibilities are limitless. I can’t wait for the birds to get on with their spring nesting now.
Not as technical but just as useful, you can take an empty plastic gallon water jug and convert it into a watering can. Punch holes in the cap before replacing it on the jug. You can regulate the sprinkle pattern by the number and size of holes.
There are so many different things and ways to, as they say, Repurpose, Reuse, Recycle. Think outside the box or in this case just Think Outside.
Do you think nature should be part of our everyday life, not just somewhere to go on the weekends? You are invited to attend our free, open-to-the-public, monthly program on the fourth Monday of the month at 7 pm at the Red Oak Library, 200 Lakeview Pkwy, Red Oak, TX. Would you like to join an active citizen corps of knowledgeable volunteers to provide education, outreach and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within our communities? ITMN will conduct spring training Tuesday evenings 6-9 p.m. at First United Methodist Church from April 2 – May 28. For more information on the Indian Trail Master Naturalist Chapter, contact the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service at 972-825-5175 or visit our website: https://txmn.org/indiantrail/.