Nikon Monarch 7

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Night Moves

It is nice to see a pair of Barn Owls back for another season using a box I put up a few years ago in a friend's barn not too far from home.  I featured these barn owls in an earlier post, with still Infrared (IR) photos taken with a Reconyx Hyperfire HC500 trail camera.  I still really like that camera but wanted to try IR video, so over the winter I got a pair of Bushnell TrophyCam HD trail cameras, which can get non-disruptive video and sound recordings in addition to still photos.  So far I'm pretty happy with the results, and I'm excited to keep the video trail cam experimentation going through this spring.  My quick impressions of the TrophyCam HD vs. the HC500 so far:


  • Price is pretty good, at about $200 a pop you can get two of these with some nice accessories like steel security enclosures for the price of a single Reconyx.
  • The video capability is a pretty cool deal, most excellent to see critters doing their thing at night and the sound recording adds a neat dimension.


  • The Infrared illumination can be a bit harsh, overexposing close subjects in the center of the frame.  You can select a low-power LED setting to help but I'm currently trying to block out a few of the LEDs with tape to see if this situation improves.  
  • The shutter trigger time is definitely slower than the Reconyx (not a surprise based on Trailcam Pro's testing data indicating 0.197 second trigger time for the HC500 vs. 0.596 second for the TrophyCam HD.)  For active birds such as Barn Owls flying into the box, even the Reconyx misses some shots but the TrophyCam misses many more.

Anyway, here's a test video put together from the owly barn:


And here's a bonus video using the Bushnell TrophyCam HD, shot near the barn next to Boulder Creek.  This one's mainly a mammal feature (watch for 5 different furry species) but there's at least one heard-only bird species to keep in pace with the theme of this blog…


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Bill Schmoker

Bill Schmoker

Bill is known in the birding community as a leading digital photographer of birds. Since 2001 he has built a collection of digital bird photos documenting over 640 species of North American birds. His photography has appeared in international nature publications, books, newspapers, interpretive signs, web pages, advertisements, corporate logos, and as references for art works. Also a published writer, Bill wrote a chapter for Good Birders Don't Wear White, is a past Colorado/Wyoming regional editor for North American Birds and is proud to be on the Leica Birding Team. Bill is a Colorado eBird reviewer and is especially fond of his involvement with the ABA's Institute for Field Ornithology and Young Birder Programs. Bill is a popular birding guide, speaker, and workshop instructor, and teaches middle school science in Boulder, Colorado. When he isn’t birding he enjoys family time with his wife and son.
Bill Schmoker

Latest posts by Bill Schmoker (see all)

  • That was COMPLETELY DELIGHTFUL. Great stuff and fabulous job! The beaver video is a good reminder that coyotes are SERIOUS PREDATORS that can cause a beaver to freeze and then run CRASHING through the brush to avoid being eaten. And I love the sound of the barn owl babies. Thanks for your hard work!

  • If you’re looking to dampen the brightness of the IR flash on your Bushnell trap camera (I don’t know if it will work on other brands), there’s an easy fix: tape paper, cut to fit, over the flash. I did this to monitor deermice coming to a virtual pitfall trap I built.


  • Most excellent tip, Mike- thanks!

    Great idea to set up a virtual pitfall trap.

  • Great video. I too enjoyed seeing the arrival of the coyote and the beaver’s reaction.

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