I did something like this a few years ago, but this time it’s a bit better with an IR (infra-red camera).
I got a cheap DBPower VA033K+ wlan webcam on Amazon for about 20EUR. These are pretty neat cameras with PTZ (Pan, Tilt, Zoom) functionality and IR lighting. The image quality is crap, but what do you expect for 20EUR eh? The image resolution is 640×480.
The camera is also horribly insecure… while you can set a username/password to access the web interface, it has a telnet port open which you can log into with the ingenious credentials root:123456 … (BusyBox v1.12.1 on Linux version 2.6.21) so yeah… you probably don’t want to use this webcam in a public network!
I ripped out the main board and camera from the body (discarding two servo motors, one bearing and a piezo speaker) – all can be unplugged from the main board easily, and the camera functions fine without them attached.
Then I drilled a hole in the top of a bird nest box we have hung under the eves behind our garage (east facing is good for birds nests: gets early morning warmth but doesn’t get cooked in the afternoon), and made a rough wooden box to house the main board and camera, then glued the camera in place, adjusted the focus for the lens (yes! you can adjust the lens focus on this webcam from infinity down to a few mm!), and the results look like this:
(note that I bent the notification LED upwards so that it does not glow green in the nest. You might consider snipping the leads to darken it completely)
The birds nest is hung just under the roof eves, so even though it is outside, it’s not likely to get any direct rain, and I hope the box will protect the electronics enough from the damp.
This is the resulting view:
Now we just have to wait and see who will nest there come spring time (or maybe take shelter there on a cold winter night).