Thursday, December 15, 2016

Wee Ones

Like most folks who run camera traps I’m usually interested in getting photos of predators, or photogenic things like big bucks or cute fawns, or something unusual. But camera traps can be used for getting photos of birds or mammals that aren’t very large or necessarily very photogenic, although some of those species certainly are.

In the past southern flying squirrels regularly used one of the nest boxes behind the house, but that box is now gone, decayed as all wood constructions will when subject to a variety of weather. For some reason the flying squirrels didn’t seem to find any of the other nest boxes suitable – or perhaps it’s that a number of woodpecker nest cavities are now available in the dead top of a large tulip-poplar or in several dead trees.

Having decided to try a baited homebrewed camera trap to see if the flying squirrels were still around, I mounted one so the lens was about a foot above the ground and 15 inches from a small maple tree. At the base of the tree was a small fallen branch and it was on and around this branch that I scattered some sunflower seeds.

The reward came after the first night when the camera trap had over 400 photographs, most of a flying squirrel –

The second night two flying squirrels appeared in several of the 500 plus photos taken in about 24 hours –

There were even a few photos of the flying squirrels in action -

Flying squirrels comprised the bulk of the night shift, but the camera trap also caught several photos of a short-tailed shrew –

And white-footed mice –

After daylight eastern chipmunks came to stuff their cheeks with sunflower seeds to store for the winter –

Gray squirrels also feasted on sunflower seeds –

And there were a few birds, dark-eyed juncos –

And a white-breasted nuthatch

The resident Carolina wren
And a black-capped chickadee -

So the question of whether southern flying squirrels are still residents in the neighborhood has definitely been answered –

These little ones may not be large, but they sure are photogenic and charismatic and the camera trap will continue to be in place and baited until I’m sure there aren’t any other species of wee ones around.


The Furry Gnome said...

Those are really fabulous photos! I'd love to see the Flying Squirrels! Never thought of it for the typical little birds though. Widens my thoughts about trail cams.

Woody Meristem said...

Thank you, I was really pleased with the photos and didn't think the setup would produce as well as it has.

I'm not sure any commercial trail camera would be able to focus closely enough to yield decent photos. These were taken with a homebrewed camera trap I built with a used Sony point-and-shoot camera and a control board to turn on the camera and have it take photos.

eileeninmd said...

Hello, awesome variety of birds and critters. The flying squirrels are pretty big eyes. I would love to see them in person. Great photos. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend. Wishing you and your family a happy Christmas!

Camera Trap Codger said...

What a great catch of the wee critters. They'll all charmers, but the flying squirrels are a special treat. Not to mention the short-tailed shrew.

Bob Bushell said...

They are tremendous images, well done Woody. I loved the Flying Squirrels.

Tammie Lee said...

You truly have some wonderful images. So fun to see the night critters.
I would like to get a trail cam, could you give me the info on yours, pretty please. Could you tell me if you are happy with it. I have had a fox coming through and would love to get photos of it. I have only seen it once, but it's tracks daily.

Tammie Lee said...

oh, here is the answer.... that is very creative of you.

Woody Meristem said...

All of these photos were taken with a "homebrewed" camera trap built from a used Sony point-and-shoot digital camera and a commercially available control board. Information on building your own trail camera can be found on and -- it may seem overwhelming at first, but there's lots of help on those forums.

I have only one commercially built trail camera, an old Moultrie M80, which is no longer manufactured. I've been told that the best commercial trail cameras are various models sold by Bushnell and Browning -- but other people have their preferences. The photos from the homebrewed cameras are better than anything I've seen from a commercial camera and you can buy a ready to go homebrewed camera from some of the folks on the forums.

Tammie Lee said...

Thank you, so kind of you to respond. I don't think that i am up to building my own set up. But the cameras that seem great are pretty pricey.