Wildlife Watch: Using SecuritySpy for Animal Detection and Recording

Our macOS CCTV software SecuritySpy is designed to provide video security for your home or business. However, it has an array of flexible features that make it ideal for many other uses too. Our customers have been using SecuritySpy for various interesting purposes, from documenting scientific experiments, to capturing interviews, to recording musical events.

A particularly popular use among our users is for recording animals. In this blog, we share some practical tips on how to make the most of SecuritySpy for capturing the fascinating behaviours and moments of the animal world, showcasing the software’s adaptability far beyond its security roots.

Check out our @SpyTheAnimals Instagram feed for more animals captured by SecuritySpy, and please post on our forum any images or movies that you have captured with your own SecuritySpy system!


Choosing a Camera

Recording animals can be challenging, as they can be small, fast-moving, shy, and most active at night. Depending on your aims, and the particular animals you want to record, there are a few specific types of camera that work well:

PTZ dome camera – these are large cameras with mechanical pan, tilt and zoom functionality. They are great for recording smaller animals or ones that will be some distance from the camera, or just for obtaining detailed close-up images. Good brands of PTZ dome cameras that work well with SecuritySpy include Axis, Dahua, GeoVision, Hikvision and Lorex.

Dahua PTZ Camera

A PTZ camera from Dahua Technology with powerful 45x optical zoom

The quality of the optical system is of utmost importance when choosing a camera like this. A long zoom range (30x or more) will allow you to record a range of animals that may be quite far from the camera. Low-light sensitivity and auto-iris are also important for providing high-quality images during both day and night.

A long infrared illumination distance is also vital if you want clear recordings at night.

Less important features include a built-in microphone (the longer distances involved here won’t allow good sound pickup), and very high resolution (the high quality optical system, and ability to zoom in so that the animal is large in the frame, mean that resolution is less important – 4 MP will provide good results).Cat In Bushes

Turret camera with fixed lens – these are small cameras that provide wide-angled views of their surroundings, which is great for larger animals that will venture closer to the camera. Good brands include Dahua, Hikvision, and GW

A simple high-resolution turret camera made by GW

For this type of camera, the optical system is simpler and lacks zoom functionality, therefore the higher the resolution the better – 8 MP (4K) should be considered the minimum. A built-in microphone is a great feature to have, since the animals will be close enough for good audio recording.

Built-in infrared illumination will provide reasonable night-vision, however the power of such illumination is often insufficient to provide clear images of small or fast-moving animals, and therefore we would recommend supplementing this with a separate IR illuminator.

Infrared Illuminator for IP Cameras

A simple IR illuminator available from Amazon

The illuminator should be mounted a short distance away from the camera to avoid the illumination of insects just in front of the camera. It should provide a wide enough illumination angle to match the viewing angle of the camera’s lens.


Miniature camera – designed to fit inside bird boxes and other animal enclosures, these can provide a great close-up view of animal activity. The Bird Box Camera from Green Backyard is a good example – it’s tiny, waterproof, and has built-in night vision and microphone.

Image from Bird Box Camera

Mounting Position

As opposed to a normal CCTV camera mounting position, which would be above human head height pointed downwards, you will get much nicer portrait-style animal images if the camera is mounted roughly at the same height as the animals you want to capture.

Animal Camera Mounting Position

So, a low mounting position can be very effective for capturing smaller animals, but just make sure to avoid including sky in the image – this can be too bright, causing exposure issues.

Recording Settings

SecuritySpy’s motion-capture recording, combined with its artificial-intelligence powered animal detection, is ideal here. In the Trigger settings for your animal camera, choose Specific Objects as the video trigger, and enable the Animals option. This will ensure that only animals will be recorded, while extraneous movement (shadows, swaying tree branches, rain etc.) will be ignored.

In the Motion Capture settings, set a long post-capture time (for example, 30-40 seconds). Some animals may remain relatively still once they have entered the frame, and this will help avoid recordings ending prematurely.

Editing Your Animal Movies

You will likely be gathering a significant amount of footage of the wildlife around your property, and you may like to edit these movies to keep the interesting bits. The easiest way to do this is to use the movie editing features offered by QuickTime Player. For more complex editing, iMovie is a good option.


All video footage above has been captured by SecuritySpy from various IP surveillance cameras.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *