Behavior & MigrationVideo: The Story of the Titmouse

Video: The Story of the Titmouse

Click on the photo below to go to Paul and Austin Murray’s wonderful nine minute nestcam video of a Tufted Titmouse. Paul Murray and his son, Austin (13), used a regular Logitech Webcam (relying on existing light entering through the side vents, and one small window on each side of the birdhouse that he covered with screen, which also helps dissipate the heat generated by the Webcam) to make their videos. The cam is about the size of a matchbox and he just put it on the interior roof of the box, holding it in place with thumbtacks and pins. The webcam was positioned about 8″ above the nest. A USB cable comes out of the webcam and hooks up directly to a laptop. When Austin was home, he hooked up the laptop and did most of the filming. A video like this takes a LONG time to put together, as hours of recordings must be reviewed and put together in a video editing program. See more info about their story and set up below, courtesy of Paul and Austin Murray.

Video by Paul and Austin Murray of Titmouse nesting

Unfortunately this video is no longer live

Bird watching – taken to an entirely new level
Contributed by Paul & Austin Murray
May 31, 2006

Ever wonder what goes on inside a birdhouse?

My son, Austin, and I were wondering about that too. This year we decided to find out for ourselves by installing a webcam inside a birdhouse in our backyard. It started off as a science project for the two of us, but we were so excited & intrigued by what we saw when a pair of Tufted Titmice began building a nest in our birdhouse, that we decided to set up a website to record the day-to-day activities of this bird family. Each night, we selected the best videos and photos taken during the day and uploaded them to the website (which is no longer active – Very soon, the site became a huge hit on the internet.  Thousands of people from all over the world (including birdwatchers, children, park rangers, and others curious about what goes on inside a birdhouse) were visiting the website and eagerly following the daily updates.

We, along with all the visitors on the internet, eagerly watched the progression of this Titmice family over a six-week period starting from the time when they came to the birdhouse “house-hunting”, to the eventual fledging of the chicks.  It was a great learning experience for all of us.

The website includes a “blog” where visitors were able to leave comments, ask questions, and provide feedback. Visitors who were amazed at what they saw and what they learned left comments such as:

      • “We have learned an enormous amount which has caused our fascination with these fabulously interesting creatures to grow and grow”
      • “It truly is fascinating what you can learn”
      • “I have never seen anything like it. It is awe-inspiring”
      • “Amazing! I can’t even describe how seeing this miracle of life makes me feel!”
      • “You have truly captured the essence of life”
      • “This is better than Animal Planet!”
      • “No doubt the most clear nest cam I’ve ever watched”
      • “Superb video. Absolutely entrancing to watch”

As we watched these birds, we found answers to the following questions (you can find videos of all this at the website

      • What do Titmice look for when they go “house-hunting”?
      • How do Titmice build their nests?
      • What are some of the predators that these birds have to deal with? How do they deal with them?
      • How do eggs hatch? (We had the awesome experience of witnessing the hatching of one of the chicks)
      • What happens to the eggshells? (Hint: they get recycled)
      • How is a nest kept so clean? (since the birdhouse does not have indoor plumbing)
      • What challenges do the younger siblings in the brood face? (The competition for food gets quite intense at times)
      • How do birds communicate? (The videos on the website include audio)
      • How do young chicks learn to fly? Do they take practice flights inside the birdhouse? (We witnessed the fledging of the chicks)

The experience of watching this Titmice family grow is an experience that Austin & I will fondly remember throughout our lives. We will continue to watch birds (using webcams or otherwise) throughout our lifetimes, and if we decide to share future experiences with the world we will be posting videos on the same website

More Information:

Video archives (Some are no longer live, sorry!)

Somewhere over the rainbow
Bluebirds fly.
– from “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” lyrics by E.Y. Harburg


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