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Whooo is in there? Peeper cam lets us see what’s happening in owl cavities

May 12, 2022

Picture of a screen showing the image of a female Northern Pygmy Owl crouched in the bottom of a nesting cavity.
A female Northern Pygmy Owl crouched at the bottom of her nesting cavity.

ORI uses a cavity inspection camera, aka “peeper cam,” for our studies on cavity-nesting owls, most importantly Northern Pygmy Owls. We also use the “peeper” to study Northern Saw-whet Owls, Western Screech-owls, Barred Owls, and Boreal Owls.

The camera allows us to look inside of small cavities to see if there are any signs of owls nesting in them. The camera head is attached to a 50’ extension pole, which allows us to investigate cavities that are pretty high up in trees. Many of these cavities are too small to reach into.

This technology has allowed us to discover that Northern Pygmy Owls have synchronous hatching; to record the interval between when the female lays each egg in a clutch; clutch sizes; chick development; and much more. It has also increased our upper body strength, transporting the heavy and awkward cam and pole around to our remote field sites!

These pictures show a female Northern Pygmy Owl in her nesting cavity. Her eggs are visible under and around her feet in the bottom picture.

Huge thanks to David Luneau of North Little Rock, Arkansas, for fixing our peeper cam in a very timely manner recently, and for loaning us another to use while ours was being repaired.

Learn more about wireless cavity inspection cameras and check out his website at

A man stands in front of a tree with a long pole extended up the tree.
Volunteer biologist Steve Hiro uses the peeper cam to look into a Northern Pygmy Owl cavity.

Two women use a camera on an extending pole to look into a small cavity in an aspen tree.
ORI Intern Solai Le Fay (left) and Field Tech Chloe Hernandez (right) use the peeper cam to look into a Northern Pygmy Owl cavity in an aspen tree.


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