Version 1 of CahowCam launched in 2013. Photo Chris Burville

CahowCam Project

February 24th 2014 

Stay tuned for our 2014 Season Launch! (Now Live)

The solar power and wireless internet has now been installed on Nonsuch and we will commence live 24/7 streaming this season using Version 2 of our custom built cameras.






Here is a frame grab from the video of "Backson" exercising just before departing last season.

Nonsuch hatched Cahow chick "Backson" exercising at the end of 2013 nesting season.  Image J-P Rouja for LookBermuda

Nonsuch hatched Cahow chick "Backson" exercising at the end of 2013 nesting season. Image J-P Rouja for LookBermuda


 April 22nd 2013

After several years of research and planning the CahowCam Project has been launched!

This is a public-private venture between the Department of Conservation Services, Ascendant Group, LookBermuda | LookFilms and Logic Communications bringing together the best in local expertise and cutting edge technologies to showcase this unique natural resource.

This project recognizes the difficulty of getting the public to Nonsuch Island Nature Reserve due to its isolation and brings the best of it to the general public, schools and scientists via the Internet.

Building upon the groundwork put in place by David Wingate, LookBermuda | LookFilms work with Jeremey Madeiros and his Conservation Services team to install our custom built "Cahow Cams" in the nesting burrows.

Watch our "Higher Ground" Documentary Film that was the basis for this project:

Project Background:

The Bermuda Petrel (Pterodroma cahow), commonly referred to as the Cahow, is Bermuda's National Bird. It is a pelagic seabird, which means it spends most of its life out on the open ocean. They feed on small squid, fish and shrimp, returning to land only to breed.

The Cahow was believed to be extinct for nearly 300 years until several were found in 1951. Since that time, dedicated conservationists have worked to bring this species back from the brink of extinction.

The population is now up to 104 breeding pairs nesting in underground rabbit like burrows on a few of Bermuda’s most remote, uninhabitable islands. Although the Cahow nesting population is increasing at the moment due to intensive management action and the control of threats, it is at this point still one of the rarest seabirds on the planet, listed as endangered on the international Red Data List.


We have leveraged all of the latest technologies to give scientists, students and the general public a live, never before seen window into the nests and lives of some of the rarest creatures on earth from these harsh, remote locations.

Version 1 of Cahow Cam. Photo Chris Burville


To accomplish this we are using miniature custom modified infrared sensitive HD video cameras with military grade invisible infrared lights and are using the latest video streaming and wireless technologies to stream live video from the islands to the web, powering all of this using solar energy.

Additionally we are enabling the conservationists on the islands to inspect the nests via WIFI connected iPads that connect to and control the cameras in the burrows, without disturbing the birds.


March 2103 Update:

The camera and lighting systems have passed all tests and are being used to archive footage while we work with our partners to install the latest in solar power and live internet streaming equipment:



Original Project Scope:

Everything must be built to withstand the extreme elements.

The solar power modules (provided by Ascendent), will include battery backups to power all of the equipment at night and through multiple days of cloud cover.

The wireless equipment (provided by Northrock Communications- now Logic Communications) will be capable of streaming multiple live video streams 24/7 and be able to handle exposure to extreme weather and have full redundancy.

The lights must be completely invisible to the eye, which requires custom built, military grade led lights and cameras that have been modified (hacked) to be sensitive to this specific light spectrum.

It is not know which burrows the birds will use each season, or which pairs will successfully hatch a chick, and once a burrow has been occupied it will not be possible to install the camera systems. In addition it is not currently cost effective or logistically possible to place cameras in all the burrows on the chance that they get occupied, therefore a modular system for allowing the easy installation of standardized camera setups has been developed.



  • ·      The cameras must be as small as possible whilst still capable of hi-definition filming
  • ·      The cameras must be durable and if possible waterproof
  • ·      The cameras must be capable of filming the infrared spectrum invisibly to the subject
  • ·      The cameras must be capable of streaming video
  • ·      The cameras must be capable of streaming over WIFI
  • ·      The cameras must be remotely controllable
  • ·      The cameras must be able to record key events in HD
  • ·      The entire system must be extremely energy efficient
  • ·      The entire system must be able to run for weeks at a time without physical intervention
  • ·      The lights must be invisible to the animals
  • ·      The system must be modular and flexible for other uses


Custom Solutions:

We have developed a modular system consisting of a custom tube that is permenantly embedded either in the lid or side of manmade cahow (or longtail) burrows. The tube is then capped with a removable PVC cap.

Once a targeted burrow becomes occupied, the cap is removed and a custom sled that holds the camera, lights and supporting electronics is inserted into the tube and the cap is put back on.

The sled has a front mounted HD camera that has been custom converted to be sensitive to the completely invisible to the eye 940nm infrared spectrum and has a custom wide angle lens adjusted for focusing from 1 inch to the full depth of the burrow.

Surrounding the lens are several individual infrared low power leds situated in a way to evenly light up the entire burrow. The 940nm lighting is completely invisible to the birds, which show up in fine detail in black and white on the video, even in complete darkness.

The camera outputs a real-time video signal that exits the burrow via wire going to an external ruggedized video steaming compressor that encodes and uploads the signal to an online video streaming platform via wireless broadband provided by Northrock.

From there it is streamed to a custom web portlet that can be embedded in the Conservation Services website, integrated into school curriculums and sponsors websites.

It will also appear on flat screens in high traffic locations such as the BZS museum and our sponsors lobbies…


Other Uses:

At the end of each Cahow nesting season the equipment will be repurposed and moved to film the endangered Tropic Bird (LongTail) which nest later in the year. Through the use of custom motions sensors, it will also be used for the endemic Skink and other wildlife around the Nonsuch fresh water pond and provide a general view of the island. 

We will capture life cycle events that have never been seen before, not only as educational tools but to add significantly to our scientific knowledge.    


More project details will be posted to this blog shortly, please check back for more information.